Eby has always preferred sleeping in small, confined spaces. When he was young, he often chose to sleep in a sleeping bag tucked between a chair and a cabinet rather than on his bed.
One day Russ dug out the kids’ old play tent and asked Ebenezer if he wanted to put his sleeping bag inside. Eby loved it and seemed to relax in the cozy enclosure where he also put his favorite fleece blanket, teddy bear, and favorite puppy.
Years ago I read Parenting the Hurt Child and in the chapter, Nurturing the Hurt Child, the authors write about “ways to increase [a child’s] warm and cozy feelings.” They write:
Let your child sleep in a sleeping bag on the bed instead of under a blanket. It’s cozier.
They also write about setting up a small tent in the living room for a play place.
In my experience, kids who have experienced trauma often have difficulty sleeping due to their need to “stay alert” and watch for danger. By giving them a safe and cozy spot, we lower their anxiety and hypervigilance.
When we moved Ebenezer up to his top bunk, I was worried about making him feel secure at bedtime. Then it occurred to us to put his tent on top of his bed. He learned how to climb in and out the back side of the tent near the wall, and he was so happy to be in his cozy place.
Now that he’s older (and bigger!), he no longer sleeps in a tent, but the parenting journey doesn’t end. Now Wogauyu is struggling with nighttime fears, so we’re back to nightlights, a flashlight under the pillow and permission to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag with his head near the open door.
What matters most is that our children feel safe enough to relax and sleep. When they do, we all get a better night of sleep – and that counts for a lot in my book.
How do you help your children feel safe at night?
This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.