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Six-Year-Old is Afraid to Sleep

Question:

Our six-year-old daughter has always been cautious and easily frightened. This behavior has recently turned worse. She throws a tantrum if she has to be alone in any situation, including being in her room with the door closed. She hasn’t slept in her own bed for almost a month. We have tried showing her love, asking her questions, issuing punishment and giving her incentives. Nothing seems to work.

Answer:

Thanks for writing in with this parenting dilemma. Bedtime can be one of the most difficult times of a child’s day, but there are many techniques that parents have found helpful.

Establish a routine and stick with it. This should include such activities as a snack, brushing teeth, taking a bath, using the toilet, putting on pajamas, reading a story, saying prayers and rubbing her back once your daughter is in bed. This routine works best if it is not rushed and occurs about the same time each night.

You might also try leaving the door to her bedroom cracked open at bedtime and give her a night light. If she gets up during the night, take her back to her bed and repeat the final steps or activities involved in the routine. Remember that consistency is key. Stick with your routine, and your daughter will respond.

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