Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

One of the best things you can do for your child

"Why is it my child always wants to have intense conversations after lights out at bedtime?!"  

"In moments of silence, you see children's souls." - Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Don't worry, your child isn't consciously manipulating you. Humans, including kids, are busy and distracted all day.  In fact, most of us go on autopilot to distract ourselves from our uncomfortable emotions, by eating, racing around, or checking in with one of our screens.  When the lights go out and the stillness settles, the unresolved issues of the heart take center stage.

You may feel like this is the homestretch, where you're galloping toward freedom as soon as you walk away from your child's bed.  But if you communicate that to her, she'll cling harder.  For your child, this is the last chance at connection before she lets go of you to find herself alone in a strange, uncontrollable dream world. She needs one last check-in to confirm your emotional availability, to give her courage, to leave the baggage of the day behind.

Setting your child's bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you'll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark is one of the best things you can do for him. Most of the time, you'll want to cuddle in silence.  Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it's something that happened at school, the way you snapped at him this morning, or his worries about tomorrow's field trip.

Maybe the darkness takes a little of the pressure off so he can delve into vulnerable emotions without embarrassment.  Or maybe he feels safe because you're snuggling him.  Maybe it even brings back that feeling of being a baby in your arms, where Mom or Dad can make everything right again. Or maybe it's that deep silence that helps us all hear the still, small voice within.

Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you will solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You'll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens.

You might even catch a glimpse of your child's soul.



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