Helping children feel secure while you are away

By Josh Lockhart, PHEc

One observation I am having when working with parents is that children who come from a two parent house seem to go to bed better when both parents are home and engaged in the bedtime routine. There is a sense of safety and security for children that when the lights go out, mom and dad are home. The same seems true for children who have grown up in a single parent house.

This may be why when only one parent is home, or after a recent divorce, or for a babysitter, children seem to be difficult to get to bed and to sleep.

With what is becoming more of the case in our fast paced world, sometimes one parent travels frequently for work, and may not be home for the bedtime routine. How can we reduce a child’s anxiety? What can a travelling parent do to help their children feel that same safety and security and reduce the anxiety despite the distance?

We fortunately live in a world filled with fantastic social technology. A particularly great tool is Skype. You can “Skype” in at bedtime and be involved with the routine. I know for my family, my wife has me on her iPod Touch so that my daughter or my son can take me to bed with them, and I am with them digitally.

A stuffed animal that has a reminder of the travelling parent may be of use. This is something that can bring a child comfort and reduce anxiety and fears when they snuggle closely to it.

If you have teenagers, simple phone calls or text messages throughout the day to your children will let them know that you are thinking about them, that you care for them, and still have their welfare on your mind.

If your trip is lengthy; you can leave little short letters behind for each day you are gone to help keep a connection for your children.

Having a family picture in each of your children’s rooms can be a reminder to them of the safety and security they have, even when one parent is travelling or away for a long period of time.

There are many ways in which a parent who is travelling for work can remain present in their families mind. By staying engaged with the family even from a distance, it will help create the same feelings of safety and security when the lights go out at home at night for bedtime.


Josh Lockhart works for the College of the Rockies in Kimberley BC. He is also a columnist with the Battleford’s News Optimist and a Co-Author with Notes On Parenting. Josh is currently a counselling graduate student atGonzaga University.