Sleeping arrangements are individual to all families. I actually love sleeping cuddled up with my daughter, and would happily do so night after night. For others it works best for everyone to have their own separate bed.
However, I began to notice that bedtime was my daughter’s ‘broken cookie’; a moment of the day that had strong feelings for her. So I wanted to help her with these feelings, as I wrote about in my last post.
Listening to these feelings for us is not about setting a rigid routine of how she must fall asleep every night for the rest of her childhood. It’s about building her confidence and checking that she doesn’t have fear and anxiety coming up in everyday situations – like falling asleep.
Last night we focused on giggles and play. As she lay down to sleep in my bed. I put her toy banana in her bed reading one of my books. Then I said, ”hey! Excuse me banana, that’s my book!” I put myself in the less powerful role, which always makes her laugh.
You might have noticed that when children are feeling nervous to separate from us they call us back because they need something. Their covers are all wonky, or they need the toilet suddenly, or a drink of water.
I decided to play around with that neediness of children to call us back if they want something. I told my daughter I would leave soon, and I said in a very light, playful tone, ”and please don’t call me back if you want…. ten socks.” She laughed. I repeated the sentence again, telling her I was going to go, and then saying, ”and please don’t call me back if you…want to go bring a real-life elephant to bed.” I kept coming up with all sorts of crazy scenarios to get her laughing, like ‘please don’t call me back if you want to… go to the supermarket, eat an ice cream, go to a disco, use some Lego as a pillow etc. The sillier the scenario the better. She fell asleep quickly and easily after that.
If your child has fears around falling asleep alone, or being in their own bed you might want to add in some giggles. Each time we laugh together we are building a closer connection that our child internalises so even if we do go into the next room, they can still feel deeply connected to us.
Working on fears and anxieties around bedtime can help children sleep through the night, because those feelings are released they don’t wake them up later. It can help prevent waking too early in the morning too. Even if your child sleeps really well you may notice that when you help them with bedtime feelings they grow in confidence in other areas of their life.
Here’s my other post about this topic, Why I Helped My Daughter To Fall Asleep Alone
To learn more about helping our children sleep well check out Hand in Hand parenting’s online self-study course, Helping Young Children Sleep