Have you always wondered if truly helpful relaxation techniques exist to calm kids before bedtime? Putting the kids to bed can be a nightmare for many parents. Some children resist bedtime so much that every night turns into a power struggle. As a result, both parents and children get poor quality sleep, which may impact a family’s health. But bedtimes need not be stressful, so following are some relaxation techniques that will help calm children down before it is time for bed.
Here Are 5 Relaxation Techniques to Calm Children Down Before Bed
“Any situation we don’t control can trigger anxiety and stress…” – Beth Block
1. Use bath time to kick off the relaxation routine
For children, warm baths might simply be a way to get cleaned, but you can make this daily routine count more. Use bath time as a bedtime tool. A soak in the tub can be very relaxing for any age, including children. Too often, parents tend to rush their kids to get out of the tub. A bath time can be the start of a good ritual and relaxation technique before going to bed.
It’s beneficial to let your children indulge in a bubble bath with essential oils like lavender or chamomile to help their body relax. Lavender works to calm the nervous system, as per a study in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Chamomile, on the other hand, has calming properties as well. It can reduce tension in the body so that your child can calm down and sleep better at night.
Just make sure that your child doesn’t turn that bedtime bath into a playful soiree because it might supercharge their energy. Make it clear to your child that this bath is a time for calm, and carefully supervise this routine.
2. Read a sleepy storybook in bed
Having a ritual where you read a storybook to your child out loud before bedtime creates a lasting memory of family time in your child’s mind. It can boost the child’s positive behavior and attention development, according to Dr. Alan Mendelsohn in the journal Pediatrics.
As a relaxation technique before bedtime, however, make sure to choose stories that have calming and light-hearted themes to help the child get a more pleasant sleep. If you have older kids, let them read a paragraph from the book.
Make your voice low and full, and emphasize on the inflections in the story to sound interesting to the child. A story that will trigger positive thinking can definitely make bedtime relaxing.
3. Listen to calming music
Try playing the same track of music at a specific time night after night before your child goes to bed. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lullaby, as you can play any soft music to trigger the sleep routine. Preferably, play the songs after you have done your bedtime reading.
This is actually a clever trick, especially for older babies and toddlers because they will learn to associate the music with bedtime. It will also help create a bedtime habit that your child can practice even as a grown-up. It will condition his body for bedtime at a specific hour every night, thus he won’t likely have trouble sleeping.
4. Try breathing or meditation
Teach your child breathing or meditation techniques to do before going to sleep. This is not just a form of physical exercise. Meditation can also improve the condition of a child with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study in the World Journal of Psychiatry.
Let your child lie down with his back straight on the bed. Ask him to close his eyes and be aware of the sound of his breathing. Let him count to 20 as you breathe along. Expect some hesitation or giggles from your child in the beginning, but be patient about it and persist on this exercise. You will both get the hang of this ritual eventually.
After counting to 20, let your child stay quiet, still, and with his eyes closed. Ask him to raise his hand slowly and be aware of the soft sound of his movements. Let him repeat this process at least five to ten times. Then end the exercise by letting him count his breathing to 20 again, but backward.
Sometimes, this form of relaxation techniques will make children fall asleep even before they can finish counting.
5. Let them keep a bedtime journal
For older children, perhaps encouraging them to keep a bedtime journal might help calm down their body and mind when it’s time to sleep. They can write anything on their journal; any thoughts that are racing in their minds, or feelings that are causing them worries or anxieties. They could even draw on their bedtime journal and be as creative as possible.
Jotting down thoughts and feelings can clear your head. A child who cannot easily fall asleep might benefit from a writing exercise because a clearer head can signal the body to relax. Psychologists told The Guardian that writing exercises trigger positive thoughts and make the brain happy.
If your child still resists bedtimes despite these relaxation techniques, consider consulting a pediatrician. Your child might actually have a sleep disorder and early intervention will ease your concerns and correct the problems.