Worries at bedtime are common for many children, so if your child tends to be anxious when going to bed then please know that you’re not alone. Your natural response may be reassure your child and tell them that there’s nothing to worry about. However, instead of trying to solve the problem, see this as an opportunity to deepen your connection with your child.
Spending some time creating ‘feeling characters’ is a great way to help children open up about their emotions. This can be done over a period of time as the different feelings make their appearance. It’s also a great tool to teach your child how to work through their uncomfortable feelings in a healthy way.
Encourage your child to create a character for their worry, nervousness or any other feeling they’re struggling with.
Keep it light by getting them to draw a picture of their character, giving it a silly name and a silly voice.
From there you can start to ask more questions about this character:
Where do you feel it in your body?
Is it heavy a heavy, light, fizzy, spiky, etc?
What colour is it?
What do you think this feeling is trying to tell you?
What does it need to help it feel safe and calm?
Through this you’re helping your child learn that their feelings are like visitors. Sometimes they like to visit us for a while, they come and then they go again.
From here you can then explore a few self-soothing activities that your child can do to help their feeling character feel calm, such as breathing practices or drawing or writing their worry on paper which they place into a jar for you to keep and look after, etc.
By taking the time to explore their feelings, you’re giving your child the opportunity to accept and notice them, and they also start to understand that they can feel their feelings but they are not their feelings.
Download our kids sleep guide, written for parents and teachers.