Filling Your Toddler’s Love Tank - Sleephaven Sleep Consultation: Helping Tired Families Sleep

You know the “dance” already. Your growing baby is curious and eager to explore the world. She ventures away – but not too far. Soon, she is running back to your side for a hug or reassurance that you are “there” for her (especially in new situations). She may check back in with you by just glancing up from her play. Her relationship with you gives her the strength and security to venture out. This “dance” has been termed The Circle of Security – and it looks like this:

Circle of Security

It should come as no surprise that your relationship with your child affects every part of life – including sleep! Her “security bank” or “love tank” needs filling – and if it doesn’t happen during the day, then children may look for opportunities to be close and secure with you at night. Unfortunately, the result can be broken sleep for all.

Many parents feel caught: they want to experience secure and healthy attachment with their child, and yet wonder how to set reasonable boundaries for behaviors when their child resists going to bed.

First, remember that there are many opportunities to build healthy emotional connections through the day.  Dr. Becky Bailey ( calls these I Love You RitualsI Love You Rituals can happen any time of the day:  wake-up, parting, greeting, diaper changes, mealtimes, bath times – and most definitely at bedtime.  I Love You Rituals are your own special ways of saying, “You are valuable to me and I will keep you safe”.  Here are the 4 things that I Love You Rituals have in common:

  • Touch
  • Eye contact
  • Your undivided attention
  • Playfulness

So, have a look at creating some simple I Love You Rituals to sprinkle throughout your day: sing a song, try some finger rhymes, plant a kiss and a promise…. Your I Love You Rituals will be unique to your family.

Second, remember that your growing baby is designed to explore new possibilities and find out where the boundaries are in her world. That means testing behaviors and challenges to the limits you set as parents. Here’s where the Circle of Security fortifies parents – to be bigger, stronger, wiser and kind – with your child’s best interests in mind. I think you will enjoy this story of how one mom tackled bedtime and practiced being bigger, stronger, wiser and kind:

Happy snuggling!

Margot Byer
Sleephaven Sleep Consultation
“Helping Tired Families Sleep”
… in Edmonton, Alberta and beyond!