How to Handle Big Feelings at Bedtime
Big bedtime feelings getting in the way of getting to sleep?
Just "let feelings be".
What does that mean? Don't distract, attempt to stop the crying by yelling, or let your toddler or older child feel badly that they are feeling sadness or anger.
Sometimes bedtime is the only quieter time of the day - and, if your child is struggling with something, this is when the feelings will pop out.
What can you do instead? Ride the wave of their feelings.
Stay with your child as they bawl, or rage... Say back what they are saying and include the emotions you are observing (this doesn't mean you agree with them, just that you can hear them!) "You want more milk. Oh, you are so sad, mummy said no and you REALLY want it!"
Then just let the feelings flow up and out.
The benefit? The feelings are then gone!
When we are upset and we get distracted our stress hormone (cortisol) stays high. But when we allow ourselves (and our kids) to feel the full expression of their feelings, our cortisol drops.
And you know what that means? Their brains and bodies are ready for sleep!
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Kathleen Hilchey is a mom of 3, sleep coach, and anti-bullying specialist based out of Dundas, Ontario.