Perhaps it’s the security that the time has a finite end or a stall routine, but for some kids, bedtime is when they decide to let down some barriers. Assuming bedtime is not a trigger, it can be a time of calm which also makes it an opportune time to connect.
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Here are some suggestions to make the most of before bed calm:
- Leave time. Rather than being frustrated that your child chooses bedtime (when you’re absolutely “done”) to open up about his story, current anxieties, and future dreams, build the extra time in–anticipate it.
- Try power posing. One of our children has extremely low self-esteem and self-confidence. We have him tell us 3 successes from his day while power posing every night before bed. This time also leads the way to great conversation.
- Daily reflection journal. One of our kids really benefits from talking through her day with a parent before heading to bed. We have a journal. In the front, she tells me when she felt angry or anxious. I record them in one column, and then we talk about the truth in the right column. For example, she might say, “I’m mad I didn’t get to run. Now I’ll never get better.” I would reply, “I know you love running, and it upsets you when you miss a day. But remember how we researched that rest days are necessary for improving so your muscles have time to build themselves up?” In the back of the journal, we keep a daily list of things for which she is thankful. Reflecting back on the day in this fashion increases emotional intelligence, gives the brain practice in calm, critical thinking, helps her feel connected, and leaves her with a more balanced view of her day rather than having the day be defined by one BIG, negative emotion.
- “I Love You” Rituals. For younger children, try the suggestions in Becky Bailey’s book, I Love You Rituals.
Do you have any tried and true bedtime connection tricks?