Friday, 18 December 2015

Muuum, I Can't Sleep!

“Muuum, I can’t sleep!”
I’m sure every parent in the land hears that at some point. It’s easy to get frustrated when repeated efforts to get your child to stay in bed and go to sleep fail. But how do you feel if you have a hard time getting to sleep? The chances are that your child is feeling the same way.
If all attempts to get your child to doze off fail, ask your child if there’s something on their mind they’d like to talk about. Sometimes it might be a repetitive thought, word, song or an event that had occurred during the day, which your child might, for whatever reason, be struggling to let go of. At night, we are most receptive to our thoughts (positive and negative) because things are generally calmer and quieter. Writing stuff down in the form of to “to-do” lists, journaling or even sketching can help adults, so if your older child is really struggling, why not ask them to write all their “inside words” on a piece of paper or draw what’s on their mind, then place it in a box, or fold it and put away to read another time?
Once this has been done, deliberately soften your voice and talk slowly, to help your child hear the relaxed tone in your voice (as frustrating as you might find it that you want to get on and do your own thing when your child is in bed, shouting at them will be counter-productive and you will be in your child’s room for longer, or they will become more unsettled). Asking them to lie in the bed and get cosy and snuggle conjures up images that the child is likely to respond to. Then ask them to breathe in and out slowly, have a big yawn to let any excess energy go, and ask them to count their breaths back from 5 to 0, relaxing different parts of their body as they go (you will need to adjust this depending how old your child is).
It’s also important to tap in to how you are feeling, being present in your mind and acknowledging your own feelings to release. Sometimes we have to forgo our own needs to help our children, as hard to accept as that might be. Having spent years of “shh-pat-ting” my babies and toddlers (and tweenager!) to sleep, I know how hard it can be to stay calm and not allow frustration to get the better of me when I haven’t stopped all day and want to relax. But as the saying goes: “this too shall pass!” Here is some useful information about helping children 
What are your mindful, gentle tips for helping your child get to sleep?
I teach children mindfulness and meditation. Please contact me to book a session or to find out more.

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