My daughter suffers with anxiety on a daily basis. It is something that she is aware of and we have learned how to cope with. There is something about night time though, that makes coping seem almost impossible. Starting about 6 months ago my daughter has developed a fear of going to bed at night. The moment we would put her in bed she would start to panic. She would get so worked up that she would come into our room hysterically crying because she was so scared. This would happen many times a night. Often it was midnight and she still wasn't asleep. We have struggled nightly with anxiety, but using the "tools" we have given her and lots of patience to help her overcome this fear we have come a long way. Some days are better then others, some things don't work but together we try to overcome her fears. Night Time anxiety in kids is a real struggle and hopefully these 5 Steps to Help Night Time Anxiety in Kids will help you out.
5 Steps to Help Night Time Anxiety in Kids
Step 1 Emotions
Let's talk about emotion for a little bit. Everyone has an emotion that they struggle with. Whether it is sadness, anger, or fear. The emotion Is real to the person experiencing it. It is important to remember that the emotion that your child is feeling as they a go to bed is real to them even if it feels frustrating and irrational to you. They need to feel your love and support as they learn to conquer this fear. Responding to them out of anger or frustration will only increase the degree of the emotion that they are feeling. It is important to react calm and lovingly so they will be in a better emotional state to learn to control the fear. As with all personal struggles, this will take time. But with the support of a parent it feels more doable to a child.
Step 2 Tools
You want your child to feel calm and comfortable when they go to bed so it is important to give them the items or "tools" needed to feel happy. These tools often are items that use their 5 senses. These tools will be different for boys and girls, and change for different ages. Take a look at what makes your child happy and that could be a tool that helps them succeed. You may need to talk to your child nightly and remind them about all the different tools they have and share with them how that item can help them feel safe when they are in bed. Here are some examples of tools:
The "TOOL" that has worked the best for us is Essential Oils and a nightlight. I was skeptical at first but was very happy after we gave it a try. Our Nighttime Anxiety Oil of choice is Doterra Serenity Calming Blend. This is my opinion and what works for best for us. Lavender is also a great choice for Night time Anxieties in Kids. Every night, when my daughter gets in bed we put 2 drops of Serenity on her pillow and two in her hand which she puts on her neck and feet. We also diffuse Serenity in the air.
Step 3 Routine
You may not think that a routine is needed, but for a child, especially one who struggles with anxiety, routine is so important. I have found with my daughter that she does the best when the evening goes smoothly, and while following a routine. If new factors are introduced, she starts to get anxious and her nervousness for bedtime increases. if her anxiety starts early, routine and patience is extra important.
In our family, we have found that 7:30 is a good time to start getting ready for bed. This might seem early for some people, but between our routine and night time reading, its often 9:00 when my kids go to sleep. We try to keep our Routine regular but remember there will be things that change and you'll have to help them adjust. You can also make it part of your routine to check on your child. Either my husband and I will go up once a night to give a surprise hug or reminder that they are ok. Here is our current routine:
Here are some ideas for nightly routines:
Step 4 Patience
I hate to say it, but I think this is one of the hardest steps. It is so hard to stay patient and loving and kind when everything in your mind is telling your that your child is being irrational, and its just not that hard! But it is hard. For them. Decide now that you will rub their back a little longer if needed, sing them songs, check on them three times, or remind them of their "tools" again, and again and again. Each day will get less and less until they don't need that any more. Your child feels comfortable knowing that you care and if you take the time to help them through their fears. One day at a time. It will help them. You may want to yell and scream, give up, give consequences or cry, but with patience and determination you can help your child get into a regular night time schedule.
Step 5 Repeat
This may sound overwhelming, but with anxiety, its a daily battle. Some nights will go perfectly and your child will go to bed with no problems. Others will be a struggle and will take longer. The best thing you can do is try the things that work for your child, again and again. Hopefully you will be able to take something from my experience that will help make yours a little easier. This time can be hard but you will grow closer to your child as you help them fight their fears.
If you are interesting in trying Lavender or Serenity Essential oils, you can visit MyDoterra to purchase. Please comment below what you have found to help with Night time anxiety. This is a process that we are still working on with our daughter so I would love to hear what you have done for Night Time Anxiety in Kids!
Note: The opinions shared above are all my own. It is my experience. I'm hoping to help others with information about what helped me. This post has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help.