Just about every parent has experienced resistance to bedtime, from temper tantrums to the more sneaky creeping out to see what those still awake are doing. Small children can look to bedtime with a certain kind of “fomo”, or fear or missing out; they don’t want to miss anything exciting or fun that might happen while they sleep. Fear of nightmares or the dark, and even for the safety of themselves, their parents, and other loved ones, can add a whole other challenging socioemotional element to sleep resistance.
With older children, the desire to stay on their devices and talk to friends and/or the need to finish up homework -- combined with the need to wake up early for school -- can make the time leading up to bed rushed and stressful. Parent/child fights can even result in those cases. Children at any age, however, need a good night’s sleep to do and feel their best. The calmer and more consistent the ways we prepare for bed are, the more likely good nights of sleep will be. Sadly, kids are increasingly getting less and less and sleep and farther and farther from the amount of sleep they need.
So what do we do about this? How do we make calmer bedtimes that lead to better, longer sleep?
Mindfulness to the rescue! One mindfulness technique that can lead to better sleep is reflecting on the day. The act of reflecting can bring calm feelings, in body and mind, as well as direct older children away from devices. Parents partaking in reflection can also build a spirit of collaboration and unity, which can chip away at or fully replace the tension, anger, or fear that too often comes at bedtime.
Bonus: reflecting on activities of the day, as well as how much one did or didn’t do healthy mind-body practices such as yoga and mindfulness, can lead to more consistent practice of those disciplines as well as healthier habits -- and from there, better whole-person health. For kids, that means healthier development and reaching closer to their potentials.
Beyond all of that, Ran Zilca ofPsychology Todaydiscusses how when we fall asleep, our brain waves literally change. Psychologically and physiologically speaking, we need to release our minds from thoughts about our day, Zilca explains. Reflection before bedtime can help us do that before we sleep, so that when our head hits the pillow our minds (and bodies) are ready to drop into restful sleep.
Have children put devices away, turn off the TV, and sit down together. Take five minutes to fill out the form together. You can assist your children with filling out theirs, or fill out your own to model focus in and commitment to doing so. Notice how your child reacts, their demeanor after they’re done, and if filling out them every night makes a difference in the longer-term.
Keep the sheet on hand for instances when you might gather that a certain student isn’t getting enough sleep. Of course using your judgement for when it’s appropriate and welcome, ask parents if they believe their child gets enough sleep. If after that it’s clear that the student needs healthier sleep routines, share the sheet with those students’ parents and encourage them to use it to help encourage healthier bedtime habits.
The approach of this sheet is perhaps something that you can also integrate into your daily classroom routine; create a sheet that students can fill out at the end of the day to reflect on what they’ve learned, what they did, how they’ve played, et cetera. See how it goes!
What’s coming next week?
We can reconnect with gratitude with something as simple as our breath, if we’re intentional and mindful about it.
Let us know how it’s going!Tag us @flowandgrowyoga on instagram and use #selfcaresaturday when you post pictures or videos practicing! Or reply here to tell us about your experiences! Photos are always welcome!
Want to learn more about teaching mindfulness & self-care to children?
Integrating Mindfulness into the School Day: This course explores how to practice little m mindfulness. Whether you are working in a school or not, this workshop will help you create a structure around mindfulness, breathing, and self-regulation in your work with children. Take it live online, or catch the replay
Self-Care for Children: In this course, we explore a framework for self-care for children, while examining your own practices. Take it live, or catch the replay!