Bedtime Routines: Finding Mindful Moments at the End of Each Day

Bedtime Routines: Finding Mindful Moments at the End of Each Day

Most parents don’t think of bedtime as an opportunity to connect with their child. Typically, we as parents associate bedtime with a frenzied battle zone in which we are trying to get our child to cooperate and complete tasks such as taking a bath, brushing their teeth, or putting on jammies. In order to make the most of this window of time, I suggest two things:

Tip #1: Use a Bedtime Routine Chart

Having a routine/responsibility chart will create more clarity and consistency, which can help make bedtime smoother, especially when your child would rather be doing other things. Researchers believe that the brains in both humans and animals have evolved to feel calmed by repetitive behavior and that our daily rituals and habits are a primary way to manage stress. This is especially true in unpredictable environments or situations where we feel pressured, have a lack of control, or are threatened in some way.

Using the chart will help keep your child engaged and focused without you having to say no or redirect them. Their involvement in the creation of the chart will definitely create a sense of ownership and commitment. Using a routine chart will also send the message to your child that you believe they are capable and will start to reinforce self-responsibility.

It’s important to get your child involved in coming up with the 3-8 tasks that will be on the chart and have them design the cards for each task. Children love pictures of themselves doing each task or pictures they have drawn of the task. Then let your child hang the routine chart where he or she can see and reach it. Involving children in the creation of their routine chart not only increases their sense of belonging and significance but also reduces power struggles by giving them more power over their lives and increases their willingness to follow what they have helped to create.

Tip #2: Include a Bedtime Ritual of Mindfulness

Be sure that the last task on the routine chart is a ritual that helps your child to calm their body, reflect on their day, and connect to you. Using mindfulness or meditation as a bedtime ritual will allow your child to reconnect with their body. Using this practice before bed can also help your child to turn off the monkey mind (jumping from thought to thought) that can keep them up long past their bedtimes. Guided meditations can help them to reconnect to their present state and their physical bodies. This ritual also helps teach your child self-awareness by guiding them to look inside themselves and can lead to improved attention and concentration, creativity, and better social skills.   

It can be even more beneficial when your mindfulness ritual includes a gratitude meditation. In addition to the benefits of using mindfulness, when you use a gratitude meditation you not only get to know and understand your child better, which leads to deeper intimacy in your relationship, but gratitude practices also lead to increased happiness and protection against stress.

Here are some great Mind Yeti bedtime sessions to try:

A routine chart that includes a mindfulness practice is a winning combo if you are seeking to make bedtime a smoother, more enjoyable experience.  What are you willing to try to make your evenings a win-win for both you and your child?

Want a few tips on how to create a routine chart with your child?  Download the guide below. 

Responsibility/Routine Chart

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About the Author: Melissa Benaroya

Melissa Benaroya, LICSW, is a Seattle-based parent coach, speaker and author in the Seattle area (MelissaBenaroya.com). She created the Childproof Parenting online course and is the co-founder of GROW Parenting and Mommy Matters, and the co-author of The Childproof Parent. Melissa provides parents with the tools and support they need to raise healthy children and find more joy in parenting. Melissa offers parent coaching and classes and frequently speaks at area schools and businesses. Check out Melissa’s blog for more great tips on common parenting issues and Facebook for the latest news in parent education!

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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