We will end our article series about helping children sleep tight with one final relaxation technique. We already know how to perceive our breath and body. Another way to get ourselves anchored to the present is to focus on our senses. After all, when we pay attention to what we see, hear and feel right now, we no longer have room to think about anything else.
The instructions are very simple. Put the child in bed and ask them what they can now see from where they are. A wardrobe, a night lamp, a blanket... You can do this even if the lights in the room are off. Maybe you see silhouettes of objects or realise that one part of the room is darker than another. Smaller children will probably need your help, but let older ones answer on their own. Try to keep a calm atmosphere. It’s not a competition to see who can see more things.
When the children run out of answers, move on to touch. Tactile questions tend to be more difficult to grasp, so it is better to guide children. Do you feel your blanket touching your hands? Notice how your feet touch the bed, your head lies on the pillow... Use the surrounding environment when coming up with questions. You can also add a sensation, for example, a caress.
If you find it suitable, also focus on smell. Is there any scent that you can capture? Maybe you can smell freshly washed duvets, shampoo, hand cream or the smell of food spreading from the kitchen.
Finally, ask the children to close their eyes and focus on the sounds. What can they hear right now? Can they catch any sounds? To catch them, they have to be completely silent and listen carefully. Sometimes there may seem to be complete silence in the room. But try to listen even more carefully. Isn't there any very quiet sound after all? Maybe you hear the clock ticking, the wind rustling behind the window or even your own breath. And if you can’t hear anything, listen for a moment to the total silence. In attempting to perceive sounds, most children will calm down. You can use this and let them fall asleep by listening to sounds.
The more often you repeat the focus on the senses, the less of your help the children will need. The older ones may no longer even respond to you and will only be guided by your instructions.
If you make this technique a regular bedtime ritual, the children may feel that they see, hear and feel the same things all the time. In that case, make the exercise a little more varied. Change their viewing angle by encouraging them to place their head on the opposite side of the bed or focus on details. Notice, for example, that in addition to seeing a plant as a whole, you also see individual leaves, stems, coloured flowers, and possibly other parts. If the child in question can’t name a detail, let them try to describe it. For hearing, you can add some sounds on purpose. For example, take a deep breath, shake your chair or clear your throat. But choose natural sounds so that they do not disturb the peaceful atmosphere too much. For children who are already used to the exercise, it can also be very interesting to try it in a different environment. For example, outside in nature, where the sensations are completely different than at home in the room.
And if, after the exercise, your child’s thoughts still wander and delay their sleep, why not try reading them some of our bedtime stories? They will love the one about a Night Butterfly who is awake when all the other butterflies are asleep. We hope that our tips will enrich the moments you spend with your children and contribute to feelings of greater peace and a sense of well-being. We wish you a sound sleep and a good night!