An except from the book Through a Child’s Eyes: A guide for parents
Tucking a child into bed at night is a way to give a child security and love and to wish them a goodnight. The literal term tuck in would imply you physically secure them for bed, ensuring the sheets are tucked and tight so they are cannot get loose while the child sleeps. The quote for this section is a child asking to have their parent’s company, well wishes, love and attention at night prior to them going to sleep at night. Many families begin a routine of singing and rocking a baby to sleep from birth. As the child get’s older, parents may read or tell them stories prior to sleep. There comes a time where a parent may think their child is too old to be tucked in. Paying attention to a child asking for their parent at night, for them to be tucked in is important as their actions are telling you something.
What are they telling you? They still need their mom and dad!
There will come a time where the child will tell you that they no longer require your care, but for a parent to make that decision, while the child desires their company is ignoring their child’s needs.
I find that parents make decisions for their children when they feel “it is time” for them to move past a certain stage. Just because a child is 5 years old does not mean they should be able to ride their bike without training wheels because the neighbor’s child is already doing so. There are so many other factors that determine why the neighbor’s child is able to do so prior to your child. If you force your child to learn to ride their bike without the security of the training wheels when they are not ready, more harm can be done than good.
Night time can be difficulty for children as well as adults. That’s when most worries and fears are presently on the mind. People lie down to go to sleep thinking about the day they had, mistakes they made, worrying about the work that needs to be done tomorrow, scared of what lurks in the dark, remembering and missing people who have passed away, fearful of the nightmare they have been having returning that night, and so on. Children experience these fears and worries as well. Having their parent there gives them security; they are safe from many things when they feel the comfort of their parents there.
Here is an example of a parent, a good friend and colleague of mine, choosing to be available. (This was posted on her Facebook page).
“Two nuggets of wisdom from my child before bed tonight. I don’t know who needs this but I did! This girl is preaching!
Child: Mommy, can you come in here while I brush my teeth?
Me: Baby, you don’t need me in there. Please brush your teeth so that you can go to bed.
Child: I know I don’t need parental supervision. Sometimes I just want it anyway.
(Note from Me: Our kids just WANT us. Yup, she said parental supervision!)
Child: Mommy today at recess I climbed on top of the circle thing and was stuck. I was scared to get down. No one even helped me even though they saw me asking for help.
Me: Aww baby, I’m sorry to hear no one helped you. Sometimes in life when we struggle with things others won’t lend a hand. It can be hurtful at time.
Child: Yea. But I had to get down so I told myself it wasn’t far from the ground and I just jumped. I just did it. And guess what … I landed on my feet!
Me: (Gave her a high five) Yes! Baby you just learned a lesson that some adults don’t have figured out! Every once in a while, you just have to JUMP! And you may even land on your feet.”
The message here is if you tell your child that they are fine, or they don’t require you or better yet, they are too old, you are telling them that the feelings they are having are not important enough for your attention. That sends a message they cannot rely on you to help them when they are feeling insecure. They may not be able to tell you that they “want parental supervision” but asking for you is the same thing. Acknowledging that what they are feeling is important, is the second step. Her mother was available to listen to what she needed to say and process. If she decided not to go into that bathroom, the moment would have been missed.
Our jobs as parents are to take care of our children, but no two children are the same. The rules for one sibling may be slightly different when raising the other. The key is to pay attention to what they are asking you to do as they still need you. Eventually you will not be needed to tuck them in at night, but until then being there for them is significant.