It can serve as a way to download whatever has been troubling them and to sort things out. Otherwise the chances are they will try to sort it out in their head when the lights go out and they may lie awake or pay you a visit in the erly hours saying they had a bad dream or can't sleep.
Sometimes reading stories can trigger something in a child that reminds them of an unresolved issue, or it may relax them enough that they thoughts come out in their own good time.
Even if things are okay, it is good to incorporate the following into your time with your child.
1. Tell them they are in a safe place where they will come to no harm. Some kids find it hard to switch off at night. Something may have happened and they feel threatened or unsure of themselves. Reminding them they are in a safe protected space is very important.
2. Tell them they are loved and that will never change except grow. Feeling loved does not come from the amount of material things you give to a child but comes from the presence of being their unconditionally for them and from forming a deep bond or connection with them. Sometimes you may use tough love but whatever lesson that a child will learn once it comes in a loving nurturing way, will ultimately have the desired effect.
3. Tell them that you are there for them no matter what happens, even if they are at fault or have done something they shouldn't have done. We all mess up and kids do test boundaries and push them every now and then. Its one way how they learn to interact with the world around them and see where and how they fit in. They are not at the stage where they can rationalize like adults and they do not have our experience to know what will most likely cause problems or more importantly the consequences of these problems. So it is important to help first before allocating blame! Solve the problem first then dissect and review afterwards. Easier said than done, I know!
4. Tell them it is okay to ask for help or report something serious because that is the right thing to do. It is important to keep the channels of communication open no matter what happens so children feel they can approach with any troubes they are having. Imagine if the fear of punishment was worse than them confiding their worries. They would feel helpless, trapped, isolated and alone. No-one wants this and no-one benefits either.
5. Tell them different things they did to make you proud and explain why. This is a great way to end the night,but can and should be done anytime, filling their thoughts with positivity, not bloated ego just positivity, there is a difference. Explaining what they did that was so wonderful, even small things is a good way of re-inforcing positive behaviours and outcomes and helps prioritize in a childs mind, more positive events to model. Orla Kelly