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FROM: squishafish
CATEGORY: Sleep
SUBJECT: Fear of bed time

I am a new foster parent for infants and toddlers. Because of the abuse and trauma some of these children have suffered, bedtime is a very scary and even traumatic time. How do you calm their fears and help them sleep? I understand the method that Jo uses but would I deal with trauma and fear the same way? Thanks.

Hi Trisha,

I think the most important thing for any co-carer or foster parents is to create the trust and security within the relationship first. And as you're well dealing with children with post-traumatic circumstances, laying down very consistent, reliable, loving, environments for these children is a priority. You certainly would not want to hug and hold a child who has been raised to fear the unknown every day.

I would suggest to build on your trust during the day and tweak the sleep separation technique, so instead of starting off on the floor, start off lying aside them in their bed. Then go to being on the floor next to their bed, then go to the foot of the bed, and wean yourself slowly out of the room.

It will be important to take into consideration the information you would have received from the social worker regarding their trauma and fear. That way, you can work alongside each child and their unique situation. Also, it may be a case that you simply use the phrase, "I am here, I am here." You may find for the fist couple of weeks that you use those words repetitively if they call out your name. As the trust becomes better during the day, you will have no need to verbalize communication during the night.

Best wishes and keep up your marvelous contribution to childcare!
xJo

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