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How Co-Regulation Can help with Bedtime Anxiety




Understanding Co-regulation


Co-regulation involves the assistance provided by adults in helping children navigate and comprehend their emotions and behaviours.


This is particularly crucial for young children still in the process of developing self-regulation skills.


Adults play a pivotal role by offering a calming presence and exemplifying healthy emotional responses, guiding children towards managing their own emotions.



Significance in Addressing Bedtime


Anxiety Bedtime often triggers heightened anxiety in many young children, stemming from fears of the dark, separation from parents, or the transition from day to night.


Co-regulation establishes a structured and reassuring presence, effectively alleviating these anxieties.


Implementing Co-regulation Strategies


  1. Establish a Routine: Consistency is essential. Create a calming bedtime routine that the child can predict, incorporating activities like a bath, reading a story, or quiet time together.

  2. Stay Calm and Present: Transmit a sense of calm through a gentle, reassuring voice and relaxed body language, as your demeanor can influence the child.

  3. Listen and Validate: Permit the child to express fears or anxieties without judgment. Acknowledge their feelings, saying, for instance, "It sounds like you're really scared of the dark, and that's okay. How can we make it better?"

  4. Breathing Exercises: Teach simple breathing techniques, turning it into a game or incorporating it into a bedtime story.

  5. Use of Imagery or Stories: Craft a narrative where the child conquers their fear, or utilise guided imagery to transport them to a tranquil place.

  6. Gradual Separation: If separation anxiety is present, start by staying in the room until the child falls asleep, gradually reducing the time spent over successive nights.

  7. Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge the child's efforts in managing anxiety, offering praise and small rewards to reinforce progress.

  8. Consistency: Apply these techniques consistently, making co-regulation a predictable part of the child's routine.


Co-regulation extends beyond addressing immediate anxiety; it involves imparting lifelong emotional regulation skills.


Through the consistent practice of these strategies, parents and caregivers create a supportive environment, aiding young children in navigating bedtime anxieties and fostering peaceful nights and a robust emotional foundation.


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