by Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt, CI
Sleep deprived. That's what so many new parents learn is their new way of life after baby comes! Soon baby learns to sleep for longer periods of time but just when you think it is getting better, along comes teething and our sweet little one is up at night even more. , Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution is a very effective and baby-friendly way to help your child learn to get to sleep and sleep well throughout the night.
What if your child is older; a toddler who needs more than a bit of encouragement to enter dreamland? A good solid bedtime routine and some special tools help tremendously. My own Hypnobabies students who are pregnant and have a toddler as well have expressed the need for a way to get their child to sleep at night and naptimes so that they can do their Hypnobabies practice in peace, so I created the Toddler Sleepy-Time Script. (See accompanying script.)
It can be made into a tape using the parent's voice which the child will respond to most readily, and played as he/she is going to bed. The suggestions on it help your little one to fall asleep easily, stay asleep throughout the night and wake up happy and refreshed. These benefits then extend to you as the parents.
There are steps you can take to help ensure success with your child's Sleepy-Time tape.
Running Dialogue: Begin right away talking to your child about everything that is going on throughout his/her day, using their name or nickname as you do, and describing in detail what is going to happen next in a calm, encouraging way. Even babies and very young children understand much more than we give them credit for, and will learn more rapidly what words mean and what is expected of them if we talk to them in more detail.
Using any person's name when talking to them helps them to pay more attention, and the "waking suggestions" we are giving them are more effective. Examples of this are: "Oh look Suzie, now I am going to get you dressed so we can go to the park. Here are your shorts and pretty shirt, and the shoes that have little ducks on them. See the cute little ducks? (As you dress your child...) Your shirt is pink with polka dots on it, and see, your shorts have a pink stripe on the bottom and I'm putting them on you now. They fit so nicely! They are so comfortable. Now I'm putting your shoes on your feet -- great! Now we're going to get your snacks ready and pick out some toys to take with us. I know you can help me.... Good!" Etc.
Explaining to your child what is going on just before you do it actually helps "program" them to go along with it. Children up to about the age of 6 to 8 years are very suggestible and these "waking suggestions" become part of their inner consciousness so that getting them to understand what we are saying and do what we want them to do becomes much easier. It may take some effort in the beginning, but soon talking to your toddler in this way will become second nature and you'll see its benefits as your child grows.
Sleep-time Training: In regards to going to sleep, if your child is used to this running dialogue, it fits right into the program to use it for bedtime as well, without using the words, "bedtime, naptime, nap or sleep". These words may already have a negative association to them, so we just avoid them and use other words with the child.
"OK, Bobby, it's time to pick up our toys now and put them away until tomorrow. Look how we work so well together -- that's right, you're putting the books on the shelf, and I'm putting the blocks in the bucket! Great, now you're going to have a nice bath and you are going to love the warm water...it's going to relax you so much and get you ready to rest and listen to your special tape..." Etc.