A Giggle Parenting Song To Help Your Kids Sleep

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So you’ve got your child ready for bed. Bath and a bedtime story, teeth and pyjamas are all done. Except there’s just one problem. Your child is full of energy, and ready to giggle rather than sleep.

Here’s a fun way you can help them release that last minute burst of energy. Tell your child, that you’re going to sing them a lullaby to help them sleep. You can start off by singing something in a slow sleepy voice like, ”and now it’s time to slowly close our eyes…” to give the impression that it’s going to be a very slow song, and then surprise them with an upbeat line like, .”..and then jump on the bed!”

This is a sure-fire invitation for your child to start jumping on the bed in a lively way. You can act all surprised that you sang that line, and say something like, ”hey that’s not how my song goes. I wanted a sleep song, not a jumping on the bed song!”

Tell your child you’re going to try again, and then start with the sleeply line, and surprise them again with another action line, like running out of the room, running and say hi-bye to your dad, pulling socks out of mummy’s sock drawer.

Each time come up with a crazy suggestion that is going to make your child laugh, while you act all confused about why the song isn’t coming out right. You can chase your child around the house to playfully get them back to bed and let them have the most powerful role as the giggles flow.

If this is all sounds completely wild and crazy to add to your bedtime routine, then here’s the science bit, about why laughter actually helps children sleep. And this is my introductory post about Giggle Parenting, and why beneath all that raucous play with your child you are actually building the connection they need to co-operate with you in the future. And here’s why I think staying up a little bit later to laugh, or listen to tears, can actually have benefits for your child’s overall wellbeing.

If you’re new to Giggle Parenting your child might want to play for quite a while, but if you add it in on a regular basis, your child will get their dose of wild and laughter, and won’t want to stay up playing till midnight! Check out my Giggle Parenting Archives, for more fun ways to add it into you family life.

Have you got a family challenge you’d like a Giggle Parenting solution for. Leave me a comment or send me a message on facebook, and your challenge could be the subject of my next blog post! 

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Giggle Parenting For Whining And Screaming

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Does the sound of your child’s whining and screaming drive you crazy? Here’s how Giggle Parenting can help.

The main guiding principle of Hand in Hand Parenting is that when our children behave in off-track ways it’s because they are feeling disconnected and have upset feelings. When children need to re-connect with us they tend to ask in all sorts of ‘crazy’ ways because when they don’t feel good the part of the brain responsible for rational, reasonable behaviour isn’t functioning well.

When a child is whining and screaming we are often more likely to want to run away and shove our head under a pillow than connect with them, but here’s a fun game that will have you running towards your child for playful closeness, and it will help diffuse the behaviour too.

When your child starts complaining or screaming, or making any irritating sounds to express disconnection run towards them as quick as you can and give them what we call a vigorous snuggle, (you can read more about it here). Tell them in a playful, warm tone, exactly how you feel about the sound, ”Oh my you’re driving me crazy! I need to stop those scream with kisses,” etc. Nuzzle and snuggle your child, in a playful (not overpowering way) and soon all those whines and screams will be giggled away.

After that walk away. Your child will probably enjoy the game and repeat the behaviour. Or you can invite them to play again by saying as if thinking out loud, ”I’m so glad that screaming has stopped. Now I can have a peaceful time.” Then when they start up again you can exclaim, ”oh no! Not again!” And run back over and snuggle with them, again. The benefit is that you get to release your tension and frustration by expressing how you feel, but in a playful, warm way that actually increases connection between the two of you.

After playing this fun game your child gets to release the stress and tension that caused their behaviour so it’s less likely to happen in the future.

If screaming and whining are still making you stressed check out my article Screaming For Connection to learn how listening time can help, or read What’s The Cure For Children Whining? 

For more Giggle parenting solutions check out my archives here. Have you got a challenge you’d like a Giggle Parenting solution for? Leave me a comment or send me a message via facebook

Giggle Parenting For Thumb Sucking

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Thumb sucking or using a dummy (pacifier) is a common aspect of child behaviour, and it can seem completely natural for a child to stick their thumb in their mouth, or use a dummy for a substitute. However thumb sucking is usually a sign that your child has some stored feelings that they haven’t expressed, so a listening approach can be really effective.

In Patty Wipfler’s article, ‘no more thumb, no more pacifier‘ she says, With knots of uncomfortable feelings rankling on the inside, their eyes glaze over, and they stop exploring their world… With their thumb or pacifier engaged, they mark time, waiting passively for something to change. A child’s mind is on idle while she sucks her thumb or pacifier. Doctors become concerned about thumb sucking because it can alter the structure of the child’s mouth over time. And pacifiers have been linked to ear infections by some studies. But I think the best reason to decide to help a child with a habit of thumb sucking or pacifier use is to help her regain her enthusiasm for life.

Here’s a giggle parenting game to help.

My daughter initiates lots of games where we roleplay with baby hands and mummy hands. So one day when she was sucking her thumb, I exclaimed in the voice of one of the mummy hands, ”Baby handy! Baby handy! A giant is eating your thumb, quick let me rescue you.”

Then one of the mummy hands would gently pull the baby hand out of her mouth. The mummy hand would say, ”phew! I saved you!” I would repeat this game, making a big deal out of saving the baby hand from the giant. Sometimes one of the mummy hands would very gently tug at her nose or chin. Then the other mummy hand would say, ”hang on mummy handy, that’s not the right, that’s not baby handy!” One time the mummy handy pulled off one of my daughter’s socks instead of pulling the baby hand out of her mouth. My daughter laughed and laughed at these mistakes, and pretty soon voluntarily took her thumb out of her mouth.

So if you’re concerned about thumb sucking, check out Patty Wipfler’s article, and try some giggle parenting. No lectures about teeth or dentists required!

Find our more about Giggle Parenting in my introductory post here

5 Ways To Encourage Independent Play

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Independence is something we want to encourage in our children. We want them to grow and venture out into the world to make the most of their lives. And in the short term we would simply like 15 minutes (or even 5!) to finish our household tasks without interruption.

I recently read a post by someone who said that children don’t need to play with adults. Now Hand in Hand parenting is an approach that really values the connection between parent and child. It’s not just about cooking, and cleaning up after them, and reading bedtime stories at night. It’s also about getting down on the floor with them, having a glimpse into their world, and an understanding that the power of our attention can be deeply healing.

An adult can’t replace a child’s need to have friends, and playmates. But an adult can connect in a way that meets a child’s need to process, and recover from any stress and upset in their lives.

Using the Hand in Hand parenting listening tools, naturally fosters independence in our children. With a big dose of connection they can internalise us as a safe base to go off and explore the world, whether it’s across the room, or away on a play date or sleepover.

Here are 5 tips for using Hand in Hand parenting to encourage our children’s independence.

  1. Get Some Listening Time For Yourself – How do you feel about your child’s ability to play independently? Do you feel frustrated by their clingyness and constant demands to ‘play with me!’? The emotional part of our children’s brain contains mirror neurons that reflect and pick up on the moods of the people around them. If we’re getting frustrated at their clingyness or constant need for attention, they’ll sense something is wrong and might respond by becoming even more clingy! When we get listened to we can clear out our minds, of all the feelings that get in the way of thinking clearly about what to do. Then we’ll be in good emotional shape for the next steps.
  2. Give Your Child Some Attention – Larry Cohen the author of Playful Parenting
    says, I’m always amazed when adults say that children “just did that to get attention”. Naturally children who need attention will do all kinds of things to get it. Why not just give it to them? When we try to get our child to play independently by saying ‘go play,’ or telling them we’re busy this can be counterproductive. If their requests for play are constantly rebuffed they may start asking for attention in more challenging ways. They might then go and hit a sibling, or pull the cat’s tail. If we can respond by saying yes, when children ask to play their connection cup gets full so they’ll be more chance of them playing independently in the future. I found this Ted talk by Shonda Rimes incredibly moving. She talks about how for one year she said yes every time her children asked her to play. I actually don’t think we should say yes every single time (see my further tips!) but saying yes as much as we can is a good aim to have.
  3. Do Some Special Time – Make special time a regular part of your life. It could be that a fixed time each week works for you. It could be that you notice the moments when your child feels disconnected, and use special time to build a sense of connection again. Sometimes when special time is over they will continue to play contentedly as happened in my story here. Special time helps our children internalise our presence so they feel safe to explore by themselves.
  4. Listen To Big Upsets – So you just did special time and found that your child did not happily continue playing with their Lego as per step 3!  Instead they started lying on the floor and tantrumming because you told them you had to go and tidy up the kitchen. Contrary to popular belief, crying is not necessarily a sign that your parenting methods aren’t working. Sometimes it’s actually a sign that they are working. As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, crying is a healing process. If you have played and given your child attention then they sense that you are available to listen to their bigger feelings. They use your limit as a trigger to release these feelings. Holding the limit while listening and staying close lets your child release feelings that get in the way of them feeling safe enough to play independently. Whenever upsets come up, it’s always good to stay in the moment and listen, rather than trying to distract or fix. Releasing big feelings in your presence allows children to connect deeply to you, and with that connection internalised they feel safer to play independently.
  5. Use Giggle Parenting You might find that you finish special time and your child doesn’t happily continue playing by themselves, nor do they throw a big tantrum. Instead they whine and moan, and follow you around. In this case, they may need to build their sense of connection with giggle parenting. If you’re going to tidy up, you might like to invite them to be ‘untidy’ to get the laughter flowing, as I did in this blog post here. Or you might want to put items away in the wrong places and then start exclaiming, ”oh no! That’s not right! Where does that go again?” get confused at your mistakes. Soon enough they’ll either be happily helping or you, or decide they’d rather play by themselves.

I hope these tips help your process the feelings that can get in the way of them playing independently. Do let me know how you get on in the comments below!

Further Resources 

A Little Special Time In The Morning – How Starting the day off right encourages independent play.

Giggle Parenting Inspiration for a clingy, ‘shy’ Toddler  – How a little laughter can encourage independent play.

10 Ways To Use Special Time To Transform Your Day – Adding little moments of special time throughout your day can encourage independent play.