Helping children to let go ~ a bedtime ritual

I’m a big advocate of letting go!

At the end of the day it’s good to look back and say “I did the best I could with what I had and it was good enough”.

Each night, when she was little, I would go through a special routine with Zoe that settled her down to sleep and also gave her a way of putting the world to rights. It’s actually a psychotherapeutic intervention, but I didn't tell her that. We call it the Four Questions, here they are:

1 What was the best bit of your day? This makes us rummage through the good and bad and find something positive to focus on. A good feeling to take from the day.

2 Blow away all the bad bits? Children are really good at this, they can take things out of their heads, put it in their hands and literally blow it away with a puff a breath.

Adults take far longer.

Over my 20 plus years as a psychotherapist I have offered this process to my clients and most of them need to analyse fully anything that they are prepared to ‘blow away’. “Just let go” isn’t as useful for the grown ups. But children are amazing – they get it! They know that this feeling isn’t doing them any good and they are OK about getting rid. We can all learn a thing or two from them. I digress…

3. What are you going to dream about? Again, children are great at letting their creativity loose. Adults often look at me wide eyed with the idea that they could possibly control what they dream about.

4. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? This is a great way to get our sub-conscious mind to find something positive to focus on.

You'll be interested to hear that I was speaking at a medical conference some years back about GP’s and stress and I mentioned the Four Questions in passing. At the end of my lecture there had formed a long queue (I thought for my technically detailed handouts on the sub-conscious). But no, the doctors all wanted a list of the four questions as they wanted to use them personally and recommend them to their patients. Amazing that something so simple can have such an effect.

Have a go and let me know what you think .... I'd love to hear your feedback.

Comments (3)

Wonderful ideas. Plus there is intimate and caring time spent with the child. I have to say... I was not as good about regularly putting my kids to bed with intimacy as my kids are with their children.

I did learn one great trick though...and that was the "back scratch."

When I would take the time to sit by my kids an scratch their back... they would relax and become chatter boxes. It was amazing about what they opened up about that we could discuss. It was a wonderful time.

Kathryn, thank you for your lovely comment. I love the idea of the back scratch. My daughter loves a massage and I, like you, find that as she relaxes, she feels comfortable to chat about her day and any worries or concerns are talked over in a relaxing a supportive environment. You've given me lots of ideas for future posts. Much love xx

You have given me a happy moment after reading about the Four Questions as 3 out of the 4 are things which my daughter and I have been discussing quite naturally at bedtime for a couple of years now (she's 5). Something I am doing right as a mum, yeah!! I'll try the blowing away the bad bits tonight and see what happens. It might help avoid the answer I sometimes get to the dream question which is that she doesn't like dreaming as they are sometimes bad dreams..

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