Separating at bedtime has been a struggle for our 2-year-old for quite some time and I have done a lot of Staylistening with him on this emotional project of his.
But lately, he hasn’t been having any Staylistening at all and, depending on who puts him to bed and how tired he is, he seems to separate a little easier.
I think what's been helping him are two games we play to help build connection at bedtime and release his fears. We recently introduced a ‘Family Time’ before bed game. We do Family Time most nights right after dinner, where all five of us do something that's usually high energy and full of laughter and that connects us all. There's more about the benefits of laughter before bed here.
It's a time that the boys have come to expect as part of their daily routine and they very much look forward to it.
The “Get To Bed Now” Game
The past couple of weeks we have done a few nights of Family Time where we playfully “make” all three boys go to bed, although, of course, it’s not actually bedtime.
They immediately jump back out of bed and then we chase them all willy-nilly throughout the house trying to get them all “back into bed.”
I pretend to guard the door and they slip past while I brag that, “No one will get past me!” Then, after they’ve all escaped, I turn around and pretend to be very surprised that they’ve all gotten out again!
They think this is great fun, and there’s lots of laughs and excitement.
Our 2-year-old has requested the game again, so we know he feels it’s helpful with his bedtime issues.
The “Are You OK,” Game
Something else that is getting the giggles with him at bedtime is when I tell him I will check on him.
I walk out the door then immediately turn around and ask with exaggerated concern in my voice, “Are you OK, son?”
He laughs and then I say, “OK, just checking. Good night, sweetheart.”
I step out the door, then quickly rush back in, very “worried,” and do it again! I do this over and over, six or more times, and he thinks it’s hilarious.
It’s always good to get the fear taken care of through giggles before they settle down for the night.
From The Hand in Hand Toolbox:
Find out How to Help Kids Face Their Fears with Play and then read How I Faced Bedtime Fears With Play to get the giggling happen at your house.