Giggle Parenting Inspiration – The benefits of laughter at bedtime

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When it comes to bedtime, most advice centres on getting children to wind down and relax. It’s all about slowing everything down. No screen-time, having a relaxing warm bath, a lavender candle or a meditation CD.

This can be helpful but one of the problems with most sleep advice out there is it doesn’t focus on the major cause of sleep issues : the emotional struggles that our children go through. Upset feelings often bubble up to the surface in the evening or in the middle of the night. Feelings are often what makes it hard for babies, children (and adults too!) to fall asleep, wake in the night or wake too early in the morning.

Listening to children’s upsets whenever they occur while giving lots of warmth and connection, can help them to release the feelings that cause sleep problems. Laughter can also help too.

Contrary to popular belief we should actually wind our children up before sleep! Roughhousing, and lots of giggles, can help children release any stress or remaining tension from the day. It also helps to build the connection that children need to feel safe to separate from us and fall asleep.

So bring on the laughter! If your child runs a mile when you suggest it’s bedtime, then perhaps have a fun game of chase, letting them escape so they take on the more powerful role. Or try to dress them in their pyjamas but ‘dress’ the pillow. Read their bedtime stories in a silly language, or have the book upside down, and wonder why the words are coming out all wrong. Put yourself to bed instead of your child. Each time you make a ‘mistake’ exclaim to your child about your confusion at how you just can’t seem to get it right. Repeat as long as you have the time, (or energy!) Laughter has been clinically proven to induce melatonin, the sleep hormone, so with every giggle your child will be closer to sleep.

Don’t be afraid for things to get a little wild! Connection breeds co-operation so play and laughter can actually help to dissolve the power struggles we may get into at bedtime. The best kind of laughter at bedtime is where children are in the more powerful role (what Hand in Hand Parenting calls Playlistening) so no tickling is allowed! Tickling can make children feel powerless, and causes involuntarily laughter, rather than the natural- tension releasing laughter that helps sleep. You can read more about why we don’t recommend tickling here.

So add a little laughter into your bedroom routine, and see the difference it makes!

Need more help?
Check out Hand in Hand Parenting’s online course Helping Young Children Sleep

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39 thoughts on “Giggle Parenting Inspiration – The benefits of laughter at bedtime

  1. Such great ideas here and I’m seeing now how laughter really does help! Tonight I was putting my 3 year old to bed and every time I went in to hug him I’d blow a raspberry in his ear 🙂 he giggled and giggled and then.. out like a light!

    1. yes, I love it! I honestly think so many parents struggle with sleep, because we are taught to think laughter and wildnesss at bedtime is not a good idea.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this I am going to show it to my hubby as we disagree wildly on this. I always carry on with the kids before bed and make it very raucous and he tells me off. Now I can say see look, I am right! TY for linking up to #FamilyFun 🎉

  3. Oh great advice. I’ve been struggling at end of bath time to getting changed recently. My 11 month old seems to want to climb and explore rather than get ready for bed. I know he is just a baby, but we sang nursery rhymes after bath time and he calmed down and we could change him calmer. I’ll definately up the anti on the play and giggles and see if it works more. Thanks for sharing with #abrandnewday

  4. thanks for your comment! I try to share this as much as possible, because so much of the advice ignores the wonderful benefits of laughter 🙂

  5. I love this idea. I have always been really silly with my eldest (youngest is still a baby) before bed time. I remember once I got in his bath with him fully clothed – we laughed so hard and he’s never forgotten it. Laughter is most definitely the best medicine and I think you have made some great suggestions here. Thanks for sharing this with us on #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. Such GREAT advice – 2 of ours couldn’t sleep tonight and the eldest made the wired twin laugh with peekaboo games and silly faces for 1o mins and then both went to sleep! I am LOVING your blog btw. #fortheloveofBLOG x

    1. Hi Mindful Mummy, I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes, our children will naturally get ready for bed with giggles, it’s so amazing!

  7. I really like this idea that laughter can actually help settle children before bedtime. It also makes a lot of sense and if I think back to some of our more successful bedtimes, they probably have been the times where more laughter and fun has been involved before bed. Our little one is quite challenging to get to sleep at a decent hour so I’m definitely going to give some of these a go, great ideas! Emily #DreamTeam

  8. Hi Emily, thanks for your comment. I am hearing from parents everywhere who are trying, and it’s working with powerful results!

  9. This is great to hear, as we’re always winding our kids up & causing giggle fits just before bed, and then thinking that it’s probably a stupid thing to do! In fairness, despite knowing that people say not to do it, we actually haven’t noticed any signs that it causes our kids to be too excited for bed or unable to sleep, so I think there is definitely something in this. #justanotherlinky

  10. That completely makes sense to me. Little Button tends to fall asleep more easily after a few games of hide and seek. The quieter bedtime is, the more she seems to resist sleeping. Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam

  11. How wonderful. I’ve never seen this advice before and I love it! It is usually all about winding down, but it’s great to know that we can goof around and it’s good for them. I like the ideas you have hear about ways to make them laugh during the bedtime routine. #bloggerclubuk

  12. This is a lovely post. Mr H and me also agree that it’s good to have a giggle at bedtime. Yes it’s important to have quiet time and chill things out but having a good old laugh together is a special way to end the day. I always tell people that my mama goal is to make my girls laugh each day! #BloggerClubUK

  13. I completely agree with this. Thanks for getting it out there and doing away with the myth it must all be sedate and calm. I cannot resist tickling my daughter whilst getting her undressed. Her squirmy little toddler body will collapse in peals of laughter whatever mood she was in seconds before. She loves it and more often than not I can feel her lean in for more! I shall no longer feel like I’m causing an upset my doing it 😀

    #BloggerClubUK

  14. I’ve read something similar to this previously and am really curious to see this in action. We struggle to get our three year old to sleep at a decent time so I may acually give this a go this evening! Emily #BloggerClubUK

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