You are doing some really lovely parenting. What a lucky little girl to have you as a connected conscious Mama!
I’m sorry you have hit a bit of a rough patch with bedtime. Here’s the deal about bedtime – it is a time of SEPARATION – Therefore a lot of FEAR can get kicked up – which keeps them from being able to relax and fall asleep easily. Since your sweet girl has had a lot of transitions and changes lately, it’s completely understandable that a big chunk of fear has gotten stored in her emotional backpack – or limbic system. Thus she’s got a bit of an emotional project> going on.
The good news is that our Tools are perfect for helping her release that fear, so that she can separate and sleep well. The other piece of good news is that you can work on separation, even bedtime separation during the DAY!
The steps involved in working on an emotional project are:
1) YOU get listening time with a LISTENING PARTNER. YOU need a place to offload your own FEAR and worry. There is something magical that happens when we get to offload our frustration. Often I find my son shifts without me seeming to have to do anything. If you don’t have a Listening Partner there are lots of good parents in the membership program who are eager to exchange Listening Time. Since it’s FEAR that is causing this behavior, you want to be able to be calm, connected playful and patient and ANCHOR your sweet girl in your nonverbal belief that she will get through this.
2) Ramp up the SPECIAL TIME – it’s best to do Special Time more frequently in smaller doses – 5-7 minutes several times each day if you can. Make sure you use a TIMER. That gives her a LIMIT to bump up against. More Special Time will pour in more safety and connection. And more endings will give her more opportunities to offload. Special Time can be an opportunity to work on Separation. When the timer goes off, you PROPOSE that you have to go into the other room to do something. Proposing that you need to separate may be enough of a PRETEXT for her to have a tantrum. That’s a good thing!!! Then you can STAYLISTEN to her feelings during the day when you have lots of energy.
3) Do lots of rough’n’tumble physical PLAY where you take the LESS powerful role. She needs this skin-to-skin contact to help her FEEL you; feel your connection. This rough play helps counter her feelings of powerlessness and fear. You particularly want to do this at night before bedtime. The more connection and play you can put into your bedtime routine the better! Fill her connection cup!
You can also play some separation games during the day. Laughter is also offloading fear and here are some games you can play
4) Set little limits early and often. Look for little limits to set during the day – again when you have more energy to staylisten. Set a Little Limit on something you might normally work-around…. For example, normally you might give her a different piece of toast if she complains, or put on her shoes so you can get out the door. Instead of doing a work-around, if you have time, Set A Limit. It’s not about the toast or the shoes. It’s about giving her more opportunities to cry hard and release some of the fear. When you BRING the Limit, then you will calmly STAYLISTEN to her tears. The more you listen to her feelings during the day, the easier bedtime may become. Here’s an example:
Here are a few more ideas specifically about bedtime. I notice that you are fulfilling a lot of her requests at bedtime. I am going to recommend that you do Special Time, 5 mins of rough/n/tumble play and then BRING the limit that it’s time for lights out. That’s the clean limit. She’s already had a snack before Special Time. She’s had a drink of water and used the potty. Now, you hold that limit and say a nice warm ‘no’ to everything else. You say ‘no’ to more snacks and a big warm ‘yes’ to your confidence that she can do this. You PROPOSE that you are going to leave and you take a step back. You are looking for the ‘sweet spot’ – not so close that she can tamp down her feelings, but not so far away that she runs out of bed. Here is one Mom’s experience with setting a limit and staylistening at bedtime.
The key to all of this, good mama, is YOU getting emotional support. in Listening Time. You need a place to dump your resentment that she is no longer drifting off to sleep without you. If you get some good Listening Time then you will be able to be creative and playful and set limits and Listen. Your sweet girl is longing to dump this fear, and you are just the smart mama to help her do it.
Let us know how it goes and how we may continue to support you.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi