Sound familiar? I’m really struggling to sleep right now. My anxiety levels seem to be quite high. Even after my trusty Epsom salts bath which usually works a treat, I cannot seem to let go. I think taking my iPad into the bedroom is not helping. I need it to do my meditation but the screen lights up my brain. I think it’s time to invest in some wireless speakers so I can be screen free.
Children often come to coaching and tell me that they watch TV or the iPad to go to sleep. I don’t blame them: I’m finding it hard too. These little machines are addictive aren’t they? It makes you wonder how we coped without them.
It is a total myth that any type of screen relaxes us
They actually light up our brain and disrupt our quality of sleep. They may help distract us or check out from reality temporarily but they are not good for us at night time. Does it surprise you that us Coaches are really good at helping other people but when it comes to us, we have to try a little bit harder. I’m getting better at caring for myself…honestly! It’s something I wish I could have learnt at a young age.
If I could have learnt how to self-soothe and relax
If I could have learnt more about what was going on in my body when I was anxious, I wouldn’t have struggled so much. This is why I want to help kids who find it hard to settle at night time. I’ve just finished recording some beautiful guided visualisations for my little Wild Heart clients who cannot sleep at night. I wanted to help these children let go and feel safe enough at night time to relax.
So you see; the not sleeping is nothing new because as a very sensitive Wild Heart (strong-willed sensitive child), I’ve always battled to switch off my busy brain at night time. I am a story teller and so it’s no surprise that I too, have an amazing imagination (this is one of the gifts and curses of being a Wild Heart). When we don’t learn to use our imagination in the right way it stops us from going to sleep. In my Smiley Sweet Dreams Pack I’ve got a fab coaching exercise with a printable journal sheet to help your child manage their worries so they don’t keep them awake at night.
Anxious children need to feel safe
Ultimately this is what these children need but I also know what they need to hear and what helps them. I really enjoy writing the scripts for my Bedtime Relaxation Pack and for the personalised visualisations that I craft. One Mum said to me: “It makes me sad when he is lying in bed yawning and he says, ‘Mummy, I don’t know how to sleep, help me’.”
How can you create and role model a more simpler and less stressful life for your child?
Here are the top 3 reasons the children I coach find it hard to settle at night. Wild Heart children are so sensitive to their environment which makes it particularly hard for them. Imagine trying to go to sleep when you’re full of stuff some of which doesn’t belong to you!!
Night time is the perfect time for you and your child to re-connect. Being apart when they are at school means they want that closeness and to top up their love tanks again. It helps them to feel loved and secured. Instead, though it often becomes a battle ground of unmet needs (yours and theirs). You want Mummy time and they want Mummy time too.
If you create a daily habit of connecting with special time (my ebook How to Rediscover the Magic of Parenting in a Busy World can help you with this) then the relationship will feel more secure. When your child is defiant or needy, it’s because they have unmet needs or are wanting more of an emotional connection with you. All behaviour is a way of communicating with you how they feel.
Children with separation anxiety find it incredibly hard to settle themselves without you but they can do it. This little boy found it hard to settle himself and so his Mum was surprised she could leave him to it (it feels like somebody is in the room with them). You could even record your own message and play it to them.
2) Full Emotional Back Pack
Wild Heart children are very sensitive and they are very susceptible to picking up on energies, subtleties and other people’s emotions. Imagine what they are carrying in their emotional back pack after a day at school with all those other children. Often when children first come to coaching, I get them to draw and talk about what they are carrying. It surprises them to see just how much. Having an awareness of our feelings enables us to be able to process them, but what if they are not ours?
This is why I coach children to zip up and protect their energy and to be able to set boundaries. It’s so hard for these children not to get sucked into what is going on around them. They feel things very deeply. I often describe them as velcro – you know: everything sticks to them!
Daily meditation or relaxation is a great way to dissolve their feelings and connect back to themselves. A sign of a full emotional pack pack is a child who is constantly on the edge of meltdown. They are full to the brim and need some help to offload those big scary feelings. I have something to help you with that.
3) Scared of the Dark
In my Bedtime Relaxation Pack is a beautiful guided visualisation called Twinkle in the Darkness where all the stars come out of the sky with special messages. You cannot see the stars unless the sky is dark and so this somehow makes the darkness less scary when you hear what wonderful things these stars have to say to your child!
Lying alone in the darkness with nothing to do is when these children’s brains disappear into thought holes. They ruminate on the day or worry about what may happen tomorrow. It’s the ‘what if’ game. There is a Smiley Thought Card which tells you to swap ‘What if…’ for ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if….’ instead. It actually shows you that you have a choice to think in a different way.
When children are afraid and they are seeking safety, it’s important you don’t dismiss their feelings and you meet them with empathy. To help you, I’ve written a whole blog post about children who are afraid at night time. Routine and consistency also help children feel secure. As does believing in their ability to help their own bodies to get to sleep.