Tips For Childhood Anxiety At Bedtime
“Don’t leave” “one more book” “5 more minutes”
All children go through a period of difficulty at bedtime. Whether it is monsters under the bed, “bad guys” coming to the house, or being afraid of the dark, stress of school, children’s imagination and anxiety can run wild causing them to be awake - and therefore you too. When the children don’t sleep neither does the household which equates to an overtired cranky mess. So, how can we help them?
Tips for helping children overcome their anxiety
● Pillowtalk: Spend some time and talk about whatever is on their mind. Try not to talk too much; sometimes just being there and listening can work out their anxiety. Let them explain what is on their mind and address it. Set a time limit to
this talk and stick to it nightly.
● Let your child regulate their bedtime: Now this doesn’t mean letting them go to bed whenever they want. It is important to be consistent when they go to their room but they can read a book by dim light if they are not ready to sleep. Keep their wake up time the same daily and if they are tired during the day they might
start falling asleep sooner at night.
● Remove screens before bed: Screens emit blue light which stops the production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone we produce that makes us sleepy and we want this to be on our side to help get sleepy. Remove all screens
an hour before bedtime.
● Bedtime routine: Bath, brush teeth, book, bed. Consistency is comforting to children so find what works for your family and stick to it.
● Story time and guided imagery: This is a time to refocus the mind in a positive manner as well as the added benefits of reading out loud. Recommended imagery and books related to childhood anxiety listed below.
● Sleep Environment: Go around the bedroom with your child and let them point out anything that causes them fear. Remove any “dolls that come to life” or objects that create a “scary shadow.” If your child is afraid of the dark use a small
soft yellow night light. Sound machines can also be helpful to block your child from hearing the creaky floors of your house.
● Avoid stimulants: It is important to avoid sugar, caffeine and energy drinks throughout the day. Keep a food log for a week and look at the days sleep is especially hard. Caffeine is found in soda pop, chocolate, and even second-hand smoke.
● Check with a pharmacist: Some medications have side effects of anxiety or sleeplessness. If your child is on any medications please review all side effects.
Recommended guided imagery
● Lori Lite - Indigo Dreams guided imagery for kids available on iTunes and YouTube
Recommended books to address childhood anxiety
● Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
● Help your Dragon Deal with Anxiety by Steve Herman
● Outsmarting Worry by Dawn Huebner (for 9-13-year olds)
● Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook
Questions? I am happy to help – Call Paramount Pediatrics 604-560-8709 and set up an appointment!
-Jenn Leckie, RN