Getting her out of her own head

Stop haunting my 6yo, lady.
Stop haunting my 6yo, lady.

Since allowing Amelia to watch Disney’s The Little Mermaid on Sunday night, I have had to think up lots and lots of good ways to get her out of her terrible bedtime-anxiety-thought-spirals. She gets herself really worked up: afraid of getting afraid while thinking of the scary parts of the movie. Even though I distinctly remember struggling with the exact same thing as a child, it’s still maddening to keep trying to calm her down and then have her dissolve into panicked tears for what seems like no good reason.

It’s possible that my strategies are all crap, and the ones I think worked are just the ones that bored her to sleep — but that’s a win in and of itself, I guess. We’ve tried doing math, talking about happy moments to think about instead, planning fun outings for the summer, talking about why the story doesn’t even makes sense, etc. I even busted out my feminist critique of the story and waxed philosophical about the repercussions that might arise from trying to start a loving relationship when you had given up your main method of self-expression.

Last night’s winner: practicing her cursive writing on the mattress with an imaginary pencil. Sensory, concrete, and probably super-boring after a while.

Got any other recommendations for ways to pull a kid out of an anxiety attack? Because I have the feeling I’ll need new ideas tonight.


  1. Hi there darls, when my kids got a knot in their heads like that we would go for a really long walk after dinner, talk about everything else, then bath, then bed and read a favourite chapter book until she is asleep. To do this I would tuck her in, turn out her light, then put your chair in the doorway and read by the hall light. I usually chose books that I liked too and no voices, or expressions, just a very calm reading voice. The other good thing about sitting in the hall way to read is that they BOTH get to listen to the same bedtime book. (Which is great for dinner time chats) We would usually get through a chapter a night, then talk about that on tomorrows walk.. I hope this helps though i have a feeling you are already all tucked up in bed anyway!! Much love.. miss c

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, C! Great ideas here. I ended up working late and Tom helped her prepare for bed last night. I asked her this morning whether she got scared of being scared, and she said, “no, I thought about something else. I thought about flying!” So I think she’s also finding ways to follow through and ‘change the channel’ on her negative thoughts. I wish I had learned better how to do that when I was a child! 🙂


      1. wonderful.. clever girl! Hope your day goes well.. c

        Liked by 1 person

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