Just got an great report back from a family whose baby was having anxiety around his crib. I've worked with several families that have had anxiety issues and I continue to be amazed at the quick progress that babies and toddlers can have in melting away anxieties. This family mentioned that after 1-2 days of following the activities I gave them that they have noticed marked progress. I'm not surprized as I have seen it time and time again.
Simple routine changes can help with anxieties, parent attitudes and grounding exercises.
The family can spend more time in the child's room during the day playing and doing routine tasks. Some families spend little to no time in the child's room before they day they decide to start night training in there.
Be relaxed about the child's anxieties. Try to take a matter-of-fact attitude and calm yourself first before attempting to calm the child. Children can pick up on the parents stress and feel unsafe. If you think this might be an issue at sleep time, try taking 2 deep, cleansing breaths before putting your child in the crib; on the second exhale lay your child gently into the crib.
There are a number of grounding techniques that I use with parents to melt away stress and anxieties. The goal of these activities is to use simple strategies to calm the child from negative feelings. One activity that I suggest is to calmly take the child around the room and slowly point and name the objects in the room.
Another idea which most parents think sounds a little crazy is to post a life size head shot of one or more parents in the room. Younger children can relate better if the size is more realistic. Research has been done showing this as helpful for children in dealing with separations, including specific research with children in daycare settings who are giving a picture of Mom to keep in their pockets. The children will take it out and look at it from time to time and be comforted.
I get excited and celebrate every success in this area!
Anyways, I better stop rambling on and get to bed as I was up all night helping a family with a 6 month old with sleep training.
Have a wonderful day!
btw, Check out all of my upcoming workshops and free sleep clinics from Kitchener to Orangeville on my home page. I will be adding a new June workshop soon in Brampton and will have a separate event page soon.