#3: I Don’t Want to Go to Bed!

Lesson #3: Behavior is an attempt to communicate something !  

            Talk about separation anxiety, the nightly bedtime ritual for my son caused great anxiety for me and my husband. Each night before bed, my son was fed, bathed, and put to bed. After a few minutes, we always heard a loud “bang,” “bang,” “bang.” Guess what he was doing? He was kicking the window. This scared me to death. Why in the world would he kick the window? My overly active imagination went crazy as I imagined a little bloody foot covered with glass hanging outside the window.  

            My husband and I started charting the bedtime routine and making adjustments. My husband stayed with our son until he fell asleep. The poor guy slept on the floor next to our son’s bed, then he moved to the next room, and after a few months we started to ease the separation anxiety we believed our son was expressing. We got to the point where we could read a bedtime story and play classical music softly in the background and our son would drift off to sleep without kicking the window.

            We increased the bedtime ritual by about 45 minutes, that time was adequate to allow our son more time with us, and it eased his anxiety. He had no language, so we gradually surrounded him with comfort, and after months we saw real results. He would relax and sleep in his room without his dad! He was trying to tell us something – "I’m frightened, I don’t want to go to bed, and I don’t want to be alone!" These were the messages we interpreted from his actions. He was trying to tell us something from his behavior. All behavior is an attempt to communicate something. The best thing to do in these cases is to listen, make changes gradually based on your data, and “hang in there!”


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