Why A Nighttime Routine Can Be Helpful For An Anxious Child
We have learned so much about anxiety this year. We went from homeschooling to public school and the boys are both finally doing well, but both showed anxiety in their own ways and we have found that they deal with it in their own ways, too.
Anxiety about new things is normal. I think I kind of expected the boys just to skip gleefully into school and not have any issues at all, but I was just holding my breath and hoping for the best instead of being prepared. My kids are anxious. I was an anxious kid and still deal with anxiety today. It is okay though. It is okay and “normal” to be anxious. I think we are given anxiety to help us to be cautious and careful…and to protect us. But too much anxiety is not a good thing. So how do you help an anxious child with new, scary situations?
Start with bedtime
A bedtime routine is so important for the anxious child. I know that getting to bed at the same time and doing the same thing every night can be SO hard in the busy world that we live in, but a bedtime routine gives kids security. They can count on this time of their day and can count on extra hugs and snuggles. I know this is the time of the day when we, as parents, are out of energy and just want to be able to say “good night” and walk away, but forming a routine can be so, so beneficial.
The bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated. I remember reading baby books when the Captain was little and some suggested doing SO much every single night. Bath, baby massage, put on pajamas, read two books, snuggles, feeding, sing a song, do a dance, recite the alphabet….blah blah. Do you know how hard it is to keep that up with a four month old??? Seriously. Don’t make it complicated.
Every night at around the same time, we tell the boys that it’s almost bedtime. We allow them to have a small snack (don’t judge…dinner is at 5 and bedtime is at 7:30 or 8.) They have a certain amount of time to get their snack eaten and then the kitchen closes. Then they put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and they have to be in bed before we all join them and read from a daily devotional book or their bibles. Then we have a prayer using our PRAY wall for help remembering who needs our prayers, say Amen, have hugs and kisses, then we turn off the light and they (usually) fall asleep fairly easily.
For a long time, we would actually have something we called “worry time” built into the nightly routine. This was a time when they could tell us what they were worried about and we would talk about how they might deal with it. Then we would pray about it and “throw our worries away” and give them to God. This was actually suggested by a teacher and it worked very well. We do still talk about anything that is bugging them at this time, and try to devote our attention to their concerns, but most of the time they do not need a time devoted to talking about their worries anymore. They have adjusted well, but still have anxieties, of course.
Give kids something that is their own for their own special part of the nighttime routine.
Both of the older boys have always had their own bible because we have always felt it was important for them to have something that was theirs that they did not have to share. The boys can follow along in their bibles as we read, or they can read on their own at any time. They are proud of their bibles and actually, are pretty proud that they have different bibles!
We were recently sent the Under the Sea Holy Bible and since the Captain received a new bible last year, we decided it was time for D to move up from the one that he had. He was thrilled, to say the least! His first real bible with the traditional bible pages, with a fun under the sea theme. He loves it! He is still a beginner reader, so he does need assistance reading it, but he is so proud that we believe in him enough to be able to read from it! His favorite part is the books of the bible graphic, since he is learning the books of the New Testament and diligently studying them!
There are a few cute inserts throughout, like this Ten Commandments for Kids: