When I became a parent there was something that completely surprised me! I constantly thought to myself...
THIS IS SO HARD! No one warned me how tough this would be!
Doesn't this picture make you feel panicky and anxious!? Yeah, me too! Feel free to scroll down! ;)
Granted I had twins off-the-bat, but still, kids are so complicated! I had been a music therapist for a number of years and I think that definitely helped (and continues to do so), knowing the developmental process, understanding how their brain works, having music facilitate listening skills, etc. Even still, kids always manage to throw something new at us at each and every stage. They keep us growing, I suppose! ;)
If your kids are like mine, there are times when they are HYPER to the max! There is just no calming them down. I have found TWO strategies that seem to work for me in most scenarios. Again, kids are kids...so nothing works 100% of the time...but it's always good to have a lot of tricks up your sleeve!
1. Sing in a "Lullaby" Voice
The musical qualities of lullabies help our bodies relax! Try singing softly in drawn out tones. Use a lilting voice that "bends" at the end of each phrase.
Sing slowly and calmly. Sometimes I start with a few words, "Close Your Eyes", "Relax", etc. After singing the words a few times simply begin singing a vowel sound with the same melody. Keep it SIMPLE! For this to be most effective, try to read a book or play with play-doh first to engage them in a more static and still activity.
Without fail, I see my little ones' eyes close (or fight to remain open) each time I sing those lilting sounds. Do you have a "fighter" on your hands too?
Your lullaby can be this simple.....give a listen...
2. Deep Breathing with a "Twist"
There is this really cool phenomenon that occurs with music called entrainment. When we hear music or something of a musical nature (e.g. steady rhythm) we naturally entrain (or match) to it in our walking and respiration. YOU can use this to your benefit!
Lay next to your child or gently rest your head on his chest. If he's not in a calm state his breathing will be quick and short and his heart rate will be relatively fast. Start breathing deeply and try to match your inhale to one of his inhalations. Breathe in deeply and continue to do so consistently. You'll notice that in a couple minutes your child's heart-rate and breathing will slow and their system will begin to calm down. Note, this is best to use at nap time or bed time, when your child knows he is expected to lay down. This has worked very well with my kiddos, who always want more "mommy time"!
One benefit to this, is that your child will get some "cuddle time" if that's his or her thing, and that in itself can help a chid feel secure and more prepared for sleep.
Of course, if your child does not like cuddling due to sensory challenges you can try this without touch, by simply breathing in your nose for four counts, hold for four counts, and then breathe out your mouth for four counts. Sometimes hearing this sound can help a child's breathing entrain to yours.
Parenting is DIFFICULT! You are trying your best and that's what counts!
If you try the tips above, please let me know! I'd love to hear from you!
If you're looking for more insight in to managing challenging behavior,
I'd be happy to meet and help you problem solve solutions.
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You may also be interested in checking out my book "A Kid's Guide to Relaxation & Sleep", which uses a social story to teach deep breathing and a relaxing bedtime routine.
Click the book above to be directed to an affiliate link on Amazon.
Noel Anderson, MMT, MT-BC