A lot of children tell me they have a hard time falling asleep. Thoughts about the day, stress about schoolwork and tests, worrying about the wellbeing of mom and dad, and concerns for the future can keep them up. These distractions, plus children having their own mobile devices like smart phones, iPads, iPods, and you have the perfect recipe for staying up way past their bedtime. It can be serious, as sleep deprivation is certainly not healthy for anyone.
When I was younger, I too had trouble falling asleep. I know how distracting it is to have an over active brain. I remember many times my mom would rub my back until I was relaxed or fell asleep. These memories I still cherish to this day. The only downside to those moments with my mom was that I didn’t develop the tools I needed to fall asleep on my own. Often when we try to help kids relax and fall asleep we leave them dependent on us. Who taught you how to relax and how is that working for you now? What can be done for a sleepless child?
Eye pillows, for starters, are an excellent tool for relaxing children (and adults) and help transition them to sleep. Eye pillows can initiate relaxation of the eyebrows, cheekbones, temples, and neck. Children can initiate relaxation themselves and not rely on someone else. Now I am not saying to stop rubbing your child’s back. Rather, eye pillows can be an additional tool for your kids so that when you aren’t around, they can self soothe.
Directions to make an eye pillow (for or with you kid(s) or students:
Put the filler in the plastic bag. Don’t over stuff. Optional 1-2 drops of essential oil into the bag. Seal the bag. Place the bag in the sock. Each student can test it on their eyes to see if they want to add or take away some of the filler so it feels right for them. Tie a knot at the end of the sock. Voila! Eye pillows.
If you have enough time with your students, and if they have the fine motor skills, try using ankle socks and sew the opening shut. Another option, if you do not want to use plastic baggies are reusable snack pack bags. They often have fun designs on them.
Now give your students the experience of using the eye pillow to relax. Try having them go into a restorative yoga pose, or guide them through a progressive muscle relaxation, or offer quiet time.
It may not feel as good as a back rub, but it could be a great tool for when a care-giver isn’t around!
For more ideas on practicing relaxation with kids:
As I begin the new school year, I'm been thinking about many things while setting up the classroom. I’m getting ready to meet a whole new batch of Pre-K students, and both little details and larger questions are entering my mind:
What color should I use for this bulletin board? How do I get back that feeling of peace I felt during my summer vacation that now feels lost? How do I spell his name again? What would I like the parents' first impressions to be of me? How can I radiate on the outside what I want on the inside? What am I going to wear on the first day?
My most recent concern after a summer of not interacting much with children is, how can I switch on my "teacher speak"? As educators, we know that the way we speak to children is its own language. It's a skill and it takes constant practice. Moreover, In order to teach children effectively, I know that I need to first think about what I want to say and then figure out how to best deliver my message. I must be aware my tone of voice, controlling what comes out of my mouth, and thinking about the purpose and intention behind my words.
My students will be making new friends this year. One of the first discussions I like to have with them touches on appropriate language to use with their friends. I talk to my students about how words can leave lasting impressions on others. I teach them that they have the power to help someone with their words or hurt someone with their words. That hurtful words can make someone feel very sad all day, but kind words can make someone feel very happy all day. It's so important to stop and think about what you want to say before you say it.
As I was reflecting on how to use language with my students today, I thought, "I’m teaching my students how to speak to each other, but have I taught me to speak to myself?" Our inner thoughts run through our minds all day. Not often do we take the time to stop and think about how our inner dialogue creates a perception of ourselves and the world around us. Perhaps I can pretend that I am starting a new school year with myself, and as I watch my students make new friends by using kind gestures and words, perhaps I need to make an effort to befriend myself.
Here are some questions I’d like to start asking myself during the new school year:
I invite all of you to reflect on the way you speak to yourselves each day. The start of the new school year may be a great time to invite your self-talk to be altered. I wrote the song, “Hugging Words,” to help children be more aware of the language they use toward others.
Check out Lianne's CD. It's an amazing album for all children and especially when offering lessons in mindfulness. Lianne's album recently won a NAPPA Award -- Congratulations Lianne!
the Little Flower Yoga Team