Does your child ‘cling, cry and stall’ at bedtime? Try asking them these 3 ‘check-in’ questions this child therapist swears by

Parents have praised the questions for helping them to build better nighttime routines for their kids

Child doesn't want to go to sleep
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A child therapist has shared the bedtime 'ritual' she always does with her kids, highlighting three simple 'check-in' questions she always asks them to reduce the effects of separation anxiety at night.

Bedtime can be a struggle no matter how old your children are. Whether your kids procrastinate at bedtime, stopping them going to sleep on time, or you're a new parent struggling to get your newborn to stick to their sleep schedule and get enough deep sleep to take on the day, it can feel like a constant uphill battle to settle kids down for the night. 

With the news that the number of children taking sleeping pills has doubled over past seven years, it's clear that bedtime isn't getting any easier for both children and their parents. But child therapist Jess has now shared her three 'check-in' questions that she uses every night to ease the effects of separation anxiety at night and help prepare her young kids to sleep alone. 

Every night, at bedtime, she says to ask kids three simple questions; 

1. What's one thing that went well today?

2. What's one thing that was tricky today?

3. What's one thing you want me to know about today?

The 'profound' but simple questions which Jess has been asking her kids every night for the past seven years have, "changed our lives," she says. "It’s taught us about bullying, hurt, need for attention. We’ve learn our daughters’ interests, excitements, and more."

The check-in questions themselves are secondary, with the 'ritual' aspect of taking time to speak to your child being the most important element of this bedtime routine. Speaking about why she always makes time to talk to her kids every night, Jess says, "Bedtime signals to kids that they will be alone for the next 10-12 hours. This seperation can feel daunting and lead to clinging, crying and stalling. 

"Doing this check-in eases the transition into bedtime, calms your child's worries, and strengthens your connection with them." 

She added, "It's easy to reduce bedtime struggles to kids being bad, manipulative, or just needing to 'learn to sleep without you.' But the way we interact with our kids at bedtime has the power to change their life. These tiny moments matter."

Parents in the comments were quick to jump in and praise the insight, saying they'd tried out the therapist's tips and seen a huge difference in their child's sleep routine and their feelings towards bedtime. 

"I started doing this with my almost three-year-old and now she’ll remind me to ask about her day if I’ve forgotten - she seems to really enjoy it," one parent wrote. Another added, "I have been using your questions for a few weeks at bedtime. I’ve learned so much! My son has a goal to make one person smile each day (which I didn’t know before). I get to hear about who and what made them smile!"

In other family news, Mum divides the internet with her screen time tip, proving parents will never agree on this topic and we answer the question 'why is Dada usually a baby's first word and why don't mums get the title?' Plus, do hand-me-down clothes impact a child’s ‘individuality’ as they grow up? Here are the pros and cons, according to experts.

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.