• Deirdre Brandner

Managing Bedtime

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

Managing Bedtimes can be a nightmare…for you and your children.

Managing Bedtimes can be a nightmare…for you and your children.

Ask the beginning of the school year approaches we need to get back into routines. Of course this is at the same time as their can be an increase in anxiety about the year that lies ahead and the letting go of the comfort and security we feel having spent a whole summer with our family. In addtin this year for many families who have been impacted by the bush fires……the school year may look a bit different.

What you should know about Anxiety & Sleep

The tricky thing about anxiety and sleep is that we need our sleep to be better able to deal with anxious feelings but anxiety often stops us from being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Waiting until a child is super tired before you attempt to put them to bed is never going to work….mostly because anxiety at night time is often hard for children to recognise. They don’t necessarily know what they’re worried about and when we ask them what they’re worried about their statements are often illogical and irrational…to us ….but not them.

As parents we think that we if just knew what they were worried about then we could fix it or reassure them, how many times have you tried doing just that but without success.

For children who feel anxious we are ask them to be apart from you, the person who keeps them safe. As humans we are wired to be close to others for safety and comfort. When anxiety takes over at bedtime our children can turn into aggressive disrespectful individuals as they become desperate to control the situation that they fear….going to sleep. They often try to take control of you, siblings and the home…as a parent you can feel like you’re being held to ransom. And how often do you find yourself paying the ransom…..just to get some peace.

Bedtime is the first boundary you need to set for children, anxious or not

The first step is setting a bedtime that you control…not them, even for anxious children.

Bedtime is not flexible…ever, it doesn’t matter if mum or dad are late home or they need to watch their television program. Bedtime is a certainty.


We need to find out what their fear is and its best to do this during the day. Ask them “what is the worst thing about going to bed?”. The responses I hear in my clinic are usually

I think there is something in my room…a monster, a scary person

I get worried when I hear sounds…someone is going to break in, there’s a strange noise

I'm scared something will happen when you're not with me.

Bedrooms; let you child have the right amount of light that they need to fall asleep. It is not the light that is keeping them awake its their fears. Get them to check all parts of the room so they can have their own evidence that is safe

During the day ask your child to close their eyes and listen to all the noises that houses make…get them to guess or make a list of what those noises are. At night noises appear more obvious to our children because the house is calmer.

Practice the statement : We are all safe in this house, do not say Mum and dad will keep you safe, or nothing can happen to you when mum and dad are hear. We need to promote the sense that our home is a safe place for all of us, whether they are right beside us or in the next room.

Some children need practice talking back to their worry thinking or using tools to stop their racing brain. This will be covered in my next blog.

Set about making sure their room feels like a safe comforting screens and no extra room for parents !!

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