Calming and sleeping
Using gentle music and songs can be a great way to help children to relax. You can use lullabies, distraction songs in the car, or even just something familiar and repetitive that can help your child feel safe and secure.
Lullabies are an ancient traditional method for soothing babies to sleep. They are used across cultures and are simple and repetitive in order to reduce stimulation for the child.
- Children are often really good at responding to the emotions and energy levels they see in others, so make sure to sing nice and slowly and with a soft, gentle tone. You might like to imagine singing along to a slow, resting heartbeat.
- Children love to hear the same song sung over and over again. As you repeat the lullaby, sing a little bit softer and slower to help lull your child to sleep. You may even like to hum the song during the last repeat.
Gentle repetitive movements like rocking and swaying can calm your child’s nervous system. This gentle movement can simulate a feeling similar to being in the womb, safe and secure. Movement and touch can also give children a sense of where they are, grounding and comforting them.
- Try rocking or swaying as you hold your child during lullaby time. This combination of your voice and the gentle movement is a real winner for relaxation!
When your child is upset, singing a favourite song may help distract them and provide comfort. It might be useful to have a list of your child’s favourite songs on a playlist on your phone, or a CD.
Creating your own words to a well-known tune can personalise the song and strengthen your relationship with your child.
- As part of your lullaby, or while singing favourite songs with a distressed child, try including your child’s name in the words, or even their favourite toys.
Bedtime routines help your child to relax and fall asleep more easily. They are also opportunities to share special moments of closeness and connection with your child every day.
- Singing the same song every night before sleep will help your child recognise when it is time to wind down.
- You can even change the words of certain songs to include bedtime activities ‘This is the way we…. (brush our teeth/say goodnight/stretch our arms) late in the evening’
Massaging or stroking your child along to lullabies or gentle music can help them to relax. ‘Deep pressure’ touch can be a great trick for calming your little one, as it can help to regulate the nervous system and make their bodies feel relaxed.
- Try giving a massage to your child while you sing. Be firm, but do not push too hard. Be attentive – if your child shows signs of discomfort, stop the massaging, and just sing.
Although it is a great idea to have a bunch of recorded calming songs on hand, no-one’s voice is quite as special to children as their parents. Your child has been listening to your voice since before they were born, and that familiar sound can be really comforting to them. Try singing to them whenever you can to strengthen that bond. It does not have to be perfect! To your child the fact that it is your voice is enough.
Here are some nice simple relaxing songs that you can use at home
- My Bonnie lies over the Ocean – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf5cUbVtjhU&feature=youtu.be
- 5 Little Ducks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UotCdw2XqKY&feature=youtu.be
- Little One – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35NOQSW9rJk&feature=youtu.be