Parenting Tips

On Bedtime Struggles

© Victoria Todd

Bedtime struggles can appear at different ages and for different reasons.  But the most common time for sleep troubles is toddlerhood and the most common reason is separation anxiety.  Feeling particularly vulnerable at night, your child wants you by his side.  So, he tries to lure you back to him with requests for a drink or one more story.  Most children who are having trouble sleeping just need reassurance that you are there and that you will keep them safe.  Regardless of how tired you are, resist the temptation to let your child get into bed with you.  Then you will have another problem—getting him out. 

Focus your efforts on pleasant bedtime routines.  After dinner, engage in quiet activities that your son enjoys.  Bath time should include conversation, cuddles and a favorite song or two.  Then a bedtime story followed by kisses and a good night said with conviction.

If your child is truly distressed or sincerely frightened after you have done your best with bedtime routines and repeated reassurance, you may need to seek professional assistance.

Angry children often have many fears at bedtime and nightmares once they finally get to sleep.  I recall an insightful seven-year-old who said, “I think my mad comes back to get me at night.”  And he was surely right about that.