Six-year-old Sam is in first grade and doing fine at school, loves to go on playdates and play soccer. But his personality seems to change when bedtime rolls around and his anxiety leads to nightly drama with his parents. When it comes time to go to sleep, Sam’s mind begins to rotate through a host of worries including being afraid of fire burning down his house, robbers coming in through his window, and the ground shaking in an earthquake.
There are a lot of children like Sam. It’s completely normal for kids to worry about things they can’t control or don’t understand. But when their worries interfere with their ability to calm themselves and place a lot of stress on their parents, it’s time to explore techniques to teach them how to work through their anxiety.
As they grow, kids’ brains form millions of neural pathways that enable complex learning and cognitive development. This process takes place through the senses—as kids develop they use their sense of taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight to build these neural pathways. So, by using their senses your child can learn how to block out the “noise” of overwhelming stimuli in order to calm their anxiety.
Teaching your child how to access inner calm starts with having a calm environment. Avoid electronics right before bedtime. Dim the lights and help them select soothing music to play. Here are some sensory techniques you can use at bedtime to relax the body and the mind:
Because these types of techniques focus your kid’s attention on a tactile, aural or visual sensation, they’re effective in diminishing worries and restoring a sense of ease and calm. And most importantly, knowing they have tools to counteract their discomfort and anxiety helps kids learn they have the power to manage their feelings, understand their bodies and gain more self-control.
Here are some resources if you want to investigate further: