In our most humanistic basic state, at any given moment we are either living in a fear and survival mode or a loving and thriving state.
Since it’s rarely 50/50, whichever feeling takes precedence ends up easily controlling our thoughts and emotions.
For children, bedtime routines and consistency equate to comfort. It is one way to ensure they feel safe in their bodies and in their space.
Feeling safe when going to sleep is a key component to REM sleep, which is the first and last stages of completing a full sleep cycle. If REM sleep is disturbed in some way, the body will continue to try and make-up that loss, thus skipping the deep sleep stages or waking early.
It’s no wonder a child who isn’t sleeping well may be moody!
I’ve never met a parent who isn’t trying to make sure their child feels safe, yet it’s hard to understand what constitutes fear in the mind of a child. It ranges from something they see to something they hear. Children tend to have astute senses and pick-up more than we do during the course of a day.
When the sky becomes dark and the lights go out, children become more in-tune with their own fears and this can rattle their sense of safety. As parents it is our responsibility to respond with empathy and compassion, rather then propelling or dismissing their thoughts.
The best fear-buster for your child can have is you.
Here are five tips to help you help your little ones release fear.
Use Accupressure Points with Intention
There’s a really, really fabulous point for helping your child feel safe when going to bed. It’s like a fear shut-off button.
The point is so accessible, your child may not even know what you’re doing. It’s this soft space between the pinky finger and the ring finger, just below the knuckles. By simply holding or massaging this point you are releasing anxiety and fears.
The reason this works is that it is a part of the triple warmer meridian—the Chinese meridian responsible for the fight or flight response. As you talk about the day, or any fears your child has, it is easy to hold this spot as you hold your child’s hand and know you are calming all fears and anxieties. You can also teach this to your child to hold themselves as they drift off to sleep.
Is your child not into it? Ask them to do this with their favorite stuffed animal and see if that shifts their response!
Clear the Air, Clear the Space
The concept of “figure eights” are known to clear the energy in a space or a person’s field.
I get it. It sounds too simple and kind of silly. But I dare you to try it. Right here where you are right now. Simply move your hands in figure eights all around your body and your space and just notice if you sense a shift.
Drawing figure eights over the bed, or in the room can clear out the energy from previous nights of lost sleep or negative thoughts. If you have a child’s wand, sword, or stick, all the better to get your children involved and empower them to create their space before going to bed.
Take Time for Yourself While They Fall Asleep
Once a child has the skill set to fall asleep on their own without your help, my belief is there is a huge difference between having the skills and needing to practice every time they fall asleep.
During times of intense emotions or when you or you’re child is needing something more, it’s ok to stay and provide safety for your children as they drift to sleep.
So, how does this equate to time for us?
By sitting in meditation in the room, while your child falls asleep, you are providing calm energy and a loving atmosphere for them and a much needed down time for you. Meditation is a time for conscious thought on breath or mantra (not tomorrow’s lunch meeting) that can be healing to our physical and emotional body.
Win. And Win.
Play into Their Imagination
If your child is scared of monsters, accept that they are scared of monsters with acknowledgement but without playing into these fears by going looking for them. Doing so is confirming that you believe you may find a monster! Instead, staying neutral allows your child to process without your own interpretation of beliefs.
Imagination can be a great tool! It is wonderful for setting boundaries, particularly in your child’s space. One of the ways we use positive imagination is to put a bubble around our son’s door. He picks the color and as we leave, we put up a great giant protective bubble around the room and his door. By us physically drawing this imaginary bubble, our son visualizes his own protection that provides safety and releases fear.
Who am I to say he doesn’t see it? Don’t like the bubble? Ask your child what they needing to feel safe and then create it.
Feel Safe in Yourself
Check in with yourself. On a scale of 1-10, how safe do you feel? Is there something you are needing? What fears are you holding onto?
Children are aware of our thoughts and feelings.
Maybe repeating to yourself at bedtime, I am safe, is what you are needing.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Stephanie Dodd
Editor: Renee Picard
Image: Giacomo Carena at Flickr