Bedtime: What makes some children resist?
Think about life from babies’/toddlers’/children’s perspective: EVERYTHING in their lives is NEW and FRESH and INTERESTING…who wants to stop for bedtime when there is so much to see, hear, do and experience (even if you ARE tired)?
All children are different, of course, but practising meaningful and enjoyable bedtime routines can alert the senses that it’s time to wind things down. Doing so can also help some children develop positive feelings about resting.
Gearing down to prepare for sleep:
For children AND adults, it’s unrealistic to imagine that “bedtime” means that it’s time to hop into bed and magically fall asleep (as if!). Preparing ourselves for rest is a process we ALL need to develop and practice in this busy world!
Alerting the senses that bedtime transition is happening can be helpful:
Dimming your lights, using specific fragrances, changing the temperature in your sleeping environment (opening a window), using a night light, glow-in-the-dark universe stickers…these environmental “triggers” help to stimulate the senses into recognizing on a subconscious level that rest is imminent.
Another way to introduce the concept of slowing down and resting is to play calming music for children during your bedtime routine.
Having a distinct bath time is a soothing start to “bedtime”. Brushing teeth at the same point during routine (after bath, before bath) teaches children to accept/anticipate the steps of their self-care/bedtime routines. Visualizing each part of the body resting can be a useful resting technique. Slowing down and practising deep breathing impacts the brain and body.
Music can play a part in making these transitions meaningful and enjoyable.
4 Useful Bedtime Routine Songs for Transitioning Towards Resting:
“The Bathtub” is a an easy-to-learn song that helps identify parts of the body while washing those parts: Toes, knees, arms, hands…and at the end of the song, you can imitate the water going down the drain with your finger. Little ones are usually fascinated by watching this happen!
The calm, relaxing music in “The Bathtub” song helps to create a soothing atmosphere as you wind down with a warm bath.
“Brush Your Teeth” is exactly 1 minute and 25 seconds long. This is just long enough to brush “around and around, inside and outside” from beginning to end.
If you struggle with getting your child to use the sand timers the dentist gives you, try brushing for the duration of this song, instead!
“We’ve Had a lot of Fun (Now it’s Time to go to Sleep)” is a useful tool to help children isolate and consciously relax different parts of the body. Make your fingers dance, then rest them. Wiggle your toes, then rest them. Add any part of the body/movement that you’d like when you sing this song. Once you have focussed on relaxing each part of the body, you can focus on getting breathing patterns to slow down in preparation for rest.
Parents of children who struggle with bedtime: Don’t stress yourselves out. Keep at it, do what you can, and keep these 10 survival tips in mind, too.
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