Institute a short “Do What You Want Session.” Let your child do her favorite activity for fifteen minutes—read, write, draw, do yoga, whatever—as long as, for the next fifteen minutes after that, she tries to go to sleep. If that doesn’t work, let her try it again. Usually, one session is all it takes.
If your child is anxious and cannot “turn off her brain,” tell her to make a “worry list,” writing down all the things she’s worried about; she can also tell you about them if she wants. This is a great way to learn about your child’s fears and anxieties and provides an opportunity to help her work through major stressors. Have her put the list under her pillow or in a special bag to make the worries go away.
Tell your child that stories are magical and instruct her to create her own “Story in Your Head.” Have her put her head under the covers (or a pillow), close her eyes, and, while breathing in to the count of three and out to the count of six, try to remember every part of her favorite movie or storybook. Often, just closing her eyes and focusing on one thing will help her fall asleep.
Warm milk with nutmeg does wonders, too.