Parents ask me all the time about sleep problems. For example..."You say that sleep issues are a major concern for kids today. How can parents use imagination to help their children fall asleep quickly and easily?"
No matter how old a child is, trouble falling asleep is the most common complaint, followed by trouble staying asleep. 30 to 70 percent of kids have a sleep problem at some point. I'd like to share Sophie's story. You might recognize some of her issues in your child.
Eight-year-old Sophie was exhausted and exasperated. When I met her, Sophie told me exactly what her problem was. She said, "I can't turn off my brain. Stuff keeps spilling out." She drew a picture of her life - dark, rainy, with no love. But when I asked her if she could imagine what her life would be like when she could turn off her brain and sleep easily, she transformed that picture. She imagined a land of Love with the sun shining and flowers growing. She said her crabbiness would be gone and she'd feel really happy and proud of herself. This simple spark of her imagination was the first step toward change. Then we took the actions to get there.
The Imagination Tools that worked best for Sophie were...
(1) The "Balloon Breath," breathing deeply into her tummy to calm herself.
(2) Imagining a "Special Place" to fall asleep. She loved to imagine falling asleep peacefully while floating on a fluffy white cloud or in her favorite vacation place. She was lucky enough to go to Hawaii the year before and loved swinging on the hammock in front of her room.
(3) Meeting a wise "Wizard" who gave her "Gifts." Sophie imagined a Harry Potter type teenage wizard dressed in a cool violet skirt and a hot pink blouse with a gold crown, who gave her magic berries that helped her body relax deeply and fall asleep. And her Wizard's wise advice to her was, "If you believe you're already sleeping, you'll be asleep in a minute." Of course, that was clearly coming from Sophie herself... which is the point.
Your child has the wisdom and answers inside. All you have to do is choose which of the Nine Tools work best.
Charlotte Reznick PhD is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA, and author of the LA Times bestselling book The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success(Perigee/Penguin). In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens, and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children's imagination. You can find out more about her at http://www.imageryforkids.com