Getting hyped-up little night owls to wind down at night can be a challenge for even the most patient of parents among us and can leave everyone frustrated and exhausted. One way to make your evenings a little calmer and help get your child ready for sleep is to include relaxation exercises in their bedtime routine. Below are some child-friendly relaxation techniques that will help your child slow down, unwind and transition to dreamland.
Progressive muscle relaxation
This is a good one to teach kids how to relax when they’re feeling uptight and may help to reduce sleeping problems. Kids can practise this technique while lying in bed and you can even do it with them. Starting with one foot, get them to close their eyes and squeeze and point their toes as if they are squishing their foot in the mud and then release after a few seconds. Follow it up with the other foot. Get them to pull their feet towards them and then let go. Afterwards, get them to squeeze their little bottoms nice and tight and then relax. Move up to their hands and ask them to imagine squeezing a little lemon really hard in one hand to get all the juice out and then relax. Follow it up with the other hand. Get them to shrug their shoulders up to their ears and then release. Work up to their face and tell them to open their mouth really wide and then relax. Get them to scrunch their whole face and wrinkle their nose as if they smell something yucky and then release. Once you’ve worked through from their toes to the head their entire little body should feel nice and relaxed and ready for sleep.
Practising deep breathing can help your child relax and get to sleep. As they are lying in bed tell them to breathe in slowly through their nose for a count of 4, hold their breath for a count of 2 and then breathe out slowly through their mouth for a count of 4. Tell them to imagine blowing out a candle (they could even hold a finger up and pretend it’s a candle). Repeat 5 or so times for the best result.
Bedtime yoga may help your child bend, twist and breathe their way to a restful sleep. Plus it can be fun to do together. Stretch out tired little muscles with a tree pose, downward dog, child’s pose, sandwich pose (seated forward bend) and happy baby pose. The see saw can also be fun to do together – sit across from one another with your legs in a V shape (bring your legs to the outside of theirs), hold hands and gently rock back and forth to stretch out the hips, back, arms and hamstrings.
Listening to soothing music
Listening to calming music may help with sleeplessness. You could play classical music, Enya or Sacred Earth as you’re both doing your bedtime yoga stretches.
Visualisation is a great technique to help kids wind down, focus and release negative thoughts and worries. It may be a great tool to add to your child’s bedtime ritual to avoid sleeping problems. You could tell them to imagine a relaxing place like the beach - ask them to visualise what it looks like, what else they can see, what they can hear and what they can smell. There are plenty of relaxation apps and online tools to help you with this technique if you’re stuck for ideas.