My boy has been going through some stuff -- having nights when sleep doesn't come easily and then stressing about the sleep not coming easily and then getting all brain-spinny about anything sleep-preventative in the room. Every little sound from the big-sound-maker T-Rex neighbors downstairs or the dishwasher or a bird outside can send him, in those long moments, into a spiral of worry and exhausted alertness.
We are working on it. Slowly.
One way is with this book, recommended to me by another mom who gets it and several others who know how important sleep, particularly restful sleep, is to kids and parents, particularly single parents who handle the terrors and worries and waking night-hours solo.
One of the most gripping parts of delving into soothing your thoughts and putting worries away for the night so a kid can sleep is talking openly about feelings -- what makes you feel afraid, what makes you feel excited, what makes you feel worried. We've taken turns discussing daily things that stir up feelings for us and E has asked me to share memories of moments when I couldn't sleep or wanted my mom in the room with me when I was a kid.
I've always known he was a deep processor, a sage child who could understand relationships and situations without much explanation, even from a very early age. That hasn't stopped me from explaining things to him -- we talked autopsies when he was three, and many big topics from gay marriage to drugs to sex to elections have been covered along the way, too. Still, these newer conversations that use a formula for talking about feelings have broken new ground.
For all my own fretting about his sleep stresses and expert advice and guidance on how to handle it from other parents and natural remedies sprayed on his pillow and possible foods that will help slow his spinning thoughts and fidgety body, I heard him use this formula and got that he can be the guide through this.
Here are the four words he's been challenged to say, and how one conversation using them shifted a lot for our little family. Including who took the trash out.