Getting young children into the routine of early bedtime can be a nightmare for some parents. Here are some top tips to help you out.
As bedtime approaches, prepare your child’s body for rest by turning the lights down a little, discouraging stimulating activities such as TV, computers and loud music.
Introduce some relaxation exercises
You may like to burn some calming lavender. Try to encourage your child to enjoy calming activities such as reading stories, jigsaws and colouring rather than rough and tumble play.
You may like to practise some relaxation exercises or simple yoga stretches. Establish a routine that your child becomes familiar with and knows he has to stick to no matter how much he resists – make a decision what time he goes to bed and stick to it.
Let the routine include a lavender bath, a milky drink/fruit picnic, brushing teeth, toilet, and a soothing bedtime story (you could try the beautiful Aladdin’s Magic Carpet by Relax Kids) and finishing off with a long cuddle and lots of reassuring words.
Try to let this routine be as calm and gentle as possible. If there is a deep resistance, have a chat with your child and find out what the underlying problem is – it maybe that she really has a fear of being alone, or is scared of the dark or feels lonely or feels that she is missing out.
Talk about their fears
Talking about her fears and getting lots of attention, understanding and assurance from you will help immensely. Stay as patient as you can and keep the atmosphere as positive as possible – children who feel they have upset their parents as well as facing the night alone, find it even more difficult to relax and sleep.
Make bedtime magical
If you can make bedtime a magical time, let her choose her favourite story and cuddle her favourite teddy. Sprinkle invisible fairy dust in the air or draw a circle of protection around them. Allow time for children to blow away their worries and fears.
A drop of lavender on a tissue near the pillow will help calm him down and be ready for a good nights sleep. A night-light will bring a touch of magic to the room as well as alleviating any fears of being alone in the dark.
Incorporate massage into your routine
You may like to incorporate a little massage into their routine. This will deepen their feeling of security and feeling loved and cherished. Try stroking their face gently or softly circling the inside of their palm. After their cuddle and kiss goodnight, develop a mantra such as goodnight, goodnight or sleep tight hope the bed bugs don’t bite. (for younger children).
This mantra or repetitive saying will help your child settle. After saying goodnight, be gentle but firm that the time for playing is over and its time to go and play or have an adventure in dreamland.
Make sure your child feels he has had your undivided attention and feels totally loved and safe. Dim the lights so she knows it really is time for bed – you may like to play some soft calming music or pop on a relaxation CD.
The Relax Kids CDs are also a valuable for giving children a tranquil bedtime experience.
Try out the following exercises at bedtime.
Lie down on your back with your legs and arms apart. Stay very still and imagine you are a sleepy starfish resting at the bottom of the ocean. Breathe in and as you breathe out relax you arms.
Breathe in and as you breathe out relax your legs, breathe in and as you breathe out relax your head. See how still you can be at the bottom of the ocean, resting like a sleepy starfish. Repeat to yourself I am silent, I am silent… Squeeze and Relax
Take in a deep breath and as you breathe in, squeeze all the muscles in you body. Now, breathe out and relax all the muscles in your body. Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times… Bubble Breaths Imagine you are blowing bubbles of peace or happiness or love into the room…
Take in a breath and imagine you have a pot of bubble liquid. Slowly and gently blow bubbles into the room. As you blow out the bubbles, imagine they are filled with peace and the whole room is filling up with peace. Do you feel peaceful?
Close your eyes, be very still and imagine your body is a piece of elastic. Just relax to start with and enjoy being a floppy piece of elastic. Allow your legs to be floppy and relaxed, let you arms be floppy and relaxed, let your stomach be floppy and relaxed and finally, let you neck and head be floppy and relaxed. Now very slowly imagine someone is very gently tugging your head and someone else is pulling your feet at the same time. And the elastic is becoming tighter. Your muscles are becoming more taut. Your whole body is getting longer and longer. Enjoy this wonderful stretching feeling as you are growing longer. Then … ping….let all the muscles in your body relax as the elastic band is released. Relax back to being a floppy bendy piece of elastic again. Enjoy this wonderful feeling of being totally relaxed and floppy.
Close your eyes, be very still and imagine that you are holding a big balloon. It is very light. It feels very smooth. The balloon is in your favourite colour. Now hold the bottom of your balloon, and feel the balloon gently rising into the sky.
Each time you breathe in and out, you gently glide further and further into the warm summer sky. The deeper your breath is, the further you can travel. Enjoy this feeling of weightlessness. Enjoy the feeling of being completely free. Your body feels weightless and free and your mind feels totally free.