Bedtime without tantrums may sound like an impossible dream if you’re the parent of a child with learning difficulties. But with these calming techniques, you’ll be able to tuck your kid into bed without the rollercoaster of energy and emotions.
Sleep is important for all kids of course. Sleep is when the body repairs itself and the mind makes new connections. Which is why it’s extra important for children with learning difficulties. The very fact that their brains are so busy means it’s doubly important that they get enough sleep for their minds to rest and their bodies to recharge.
Poor sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression as well as gut problems and emotional imbalance. Of course, when a child can’t sleep at night, mum and dad don’t sleep well either which leads to a household full of irritable and exhausted people the next day.
And it’s not just the amount of sleep that’s important for your child, it’s also the quality of that sleep. If you’ve ever had a night of restless, crazy dreams, and frequent waking, (and who hasn’t?) then you’ll know how much we’re each affected by what we were doing before bedtime.
Imagine how it would feel (for both you and your child) if the bedtime routine went smoothly and peacefully? How much time would you gain back from your evening? How much calmer would everyone be in the morning if they were well-rested?
I’ll tell you how much of a difference it made for me – I got 2 hours back in my life every single night. It was during those 2 hours that I started my own business and grew it to a 6-figure income. And that’s no exaggeration! Just this year, my husband and I purchased a dream home where I hired a team to build a bio-organic garden and dig/install a magnesium pool.
So to me, bedtime routines are literally a life-changing experience!
Why Bedtime Rituals Work
Rituals (or habits if you prefer) develop over time as we find ourselves doing the same thing, over and over again, until we find it awkward or impossible to do them any other way. Repeat these rituals often enough and they create muscle memory. This is why we feel like we do them automatically.
So even if they feel like a struggle at first, they become as easy as breathing over time. Rituals are also hugely comforting. That’s why we’re encouraged to return to our routines as soon as possible after a major, upsetting incident.
Try each of the following techniques for creating healthy bedtime habits that make it easier to put your child to sleep without the tantrums.
Blissful Bedtime Meditations and Relaxation Techniques
Meditations and relaxation techniques may seem a bit daunting if you haven’t used them before but really, these are just exercises for winding down. If you haven’t got your own favourites, here are a few of mine:
Take 3 short breaths and then 1 long one. Repeat as often as needed.
Breathe in slowly through the nose and then hum as you breathe out. Once you’ve mastered this step close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears. Continuing breathing in and humming out.
Hot Air Balloon
Cup your hands around your mouth and take a deep breathe in through your nose. As you blow out through your mouth, move your hands up and wide as if blowing up with a balloon.
A few moments of relaxation with these techniques will set your kids up for a settled night. Five or 10 minutes of each is probably all you need but you can always go longer if you need to.
Also keep in mind that these breathing exercises can also be used to calm your child if they’re beginning to get anxious at other times during the day.
Essential Oils for Bedtime
Essential oils are a lovely way to create a nice calm atmosphere in preparation for sleep. You’re probably already familiar with the most common ones like Lavender and Chamomile. The same herbs you find in “sleep easy” teas are often the same ones you’d use in a relaxing bath or calming bedtime routine.
I only trust doTERRA essential oils because I know they have a rigid testing process and that their oils are of the highest quality. Plus, doTERRA makes it incredibly easy with their range of oil blends designed specifically for kids. These blends come in roller bottles so they can be applied straight to the skin.
My faves for bedtime:
doTERRA’s Calmer Blend is particularly good for sleeping. It contains lavender, roman chamomile, buddha wood, and fractionated coconut oil. Apply it to the bottom of your child’s feet once they’re in bed or add it to the diffuser an hour before bedtime.
The Steady Blend is also magical if you have kids that just can’t seem to calm themselves at night. It contains amyris wood, balsam fir, coriander, magnolia and fractionated coconut oil. These plants instil a sense of tranquillity and are especially useful when applied to the feet after an event-filled day.
An alternative to using roller blends is to put a mixture of essential oils in a diffuser and either have it going in the kids’ rooms or outside in the hall or living area. I like to put lavender and copaiba oil in our diffuser and place it in the hallway so we can feel the benefits in every room.
Monsters Under The Bed…
…and in the air, the closet, and trying to get in through the window. Not the big, scary, green monsters, but the emotional and physical triggers that overwhelm your child’s body and mind while they sleep.
These are the monsters that cause kids to stress out while they sleep, wake up more frequently, and feel tired when they start the next day. And that leads to just more meltdowns until it seems like a vicious cycle that never ends.
When you put your child to bed, take some time to unplug everything. Every light, every charger, every toy that flashes, spins or even wobbles. Unplug it all, so that the room is dark without any light. What seems dark at first can become a source of stress as those little red or blue lights on nearly every device start flashing or casting a glow that gets brighter and brighter the more your eyes adjust.
Same goes for sounds. What seems like a quiet room can become a cacophony at night as your ears start to pick up the sound of every fan, whirr, tick, and tock.
Good heavy curtains that block out streetlights and other nasties are also helpful, especially if you have an outdoor light on a motion sensor anywhere near their bedroom window.
What to do if your child wakes during the night
Once you put all the above techniques in place, getting a nighttime visit from your child will become rare. But, every now and then, something might wake them up during the night. This doesn’t mean that all your hard work has gone to waste! I’ve got an easy solution for this.
Leave a roller bottle beside their bed of the Calmer Blend and let your child know it’s OK to use it themselves as soon as they wake. If they’re not able to use it, you can quickly apply it before you even wake fully, and then tuck them back in.
If you continue to have problems before bedtime, check out my other post with 6 more tips for reducing the struggle before bedtime. (This post was an in-depth look at tip #3!)
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Thanks for reading!