Staylistening at bedtime helps build connection
author By Emilie Leeks,

We've all been there - it's the end of a long day, and your children just don't want to get ready for bed. So what can you do, that doesn't involve setting down harsh limits, threatening punishments, or shouting? Here's a great story from an amazing Journeys in Parenting mother, who managed to listen to the feelings her daughter had about getting ready. This mother, who uses Listening Partnerships regularly to fill her cup and build her resilience, thought creatively, exercised great patience, and found the connection she built with her child made it completely worth the hard work she put in.

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At bedtime one evening, my two-year-old daughter decided she didn't want to get undressed/ready for bed. I managed to get her undressed but she refused to put her nappy and pyjamas on. She was kicking, screaming, pushing me away etc. Previously I would have tried a few different ideas to get her pyjamas on then got angry with her and forced her into them. On this occasion I just listened. I empathised and told her I was there for her. After over an hour I could see she was getting very tired so I tried some Playlistening with the pyjamas by putting them on me in funny ways. This didn't work so I went back to Staylistening. A little while later (an hour and a half in total), she reluctantly let me put her pyjamas on her and went to bed. The following day, she was much calmer and back to her happy self. She also gave me a massive hug and said "I love you" which was the first time she'd just said this to me. She felt listened to and our connection was left intact - what more could I have asked for?

heart hands tiger

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Useful resources:
Here are some other resources and stories which might help if you want to learn to listen to your children's upsets, so that they can let the hard feelings out. I've also put in some links to other creative ways to help with those all-too-challenging routines:

What to say during Staylistening - practical ideas of what to do and say when your child is in the midst of big emotions

The science behind the Hand in Hand Parenting tool of Staylistening

20 Things to Say to Your Child Instead of "Don't Cry"

Life is easier when you listen

Using the tools to help with toothbrushing

The benefits of laughter at bedtime

A fun way to get bedtime to happen

A word or two about Journeys in Parenting: a blog about our experiences on the path of peaceful parenting…

We are a family of 5, living in Berkshire in the UK. I (Emilie) am married to the rather wonderful and (thank goodness!) supportive Stuart, and we have 3 young children, aged 9, 6, and 4. I decided to start this blog after a few enquiries from friends and acquaintances about what our parenting style is all about. I hope that writing about the peaks and pitfalls of our peaceful parenting journey will help others in a similar position - i.e. wanting to make changes to their parenting, but not quite sure where to start! It's very much an ongoing journey for us, and in no way do we claim to have all the answers, but we hope that reading about trying to support our children in a peaceful, responsive way that works for our family will perhaps inspire others to find their own path too.

And to all parents out there reading this: I hope this will be a mutually supportive resource. It is not intended to be a comment on any parenting style which is different from ours, rather it reflects what is working for our family and that which might be useful for others - the article I Am Not a Better Mother Than You says it better than I ever could! I fully welcome respectful comments and questions (e.g. in the vein of "I have found X works well for me" rather than "You shouldn't do it like that") - please try to avoid judgement of others when posting. I have no problem with my ideas being politely questioned, but if our overall parenting style is not for you, please do feel free to go and find other resources which are a better fit for you. Best of luck to everyone, as I know we are all doing the very best that we can for our children, no matter which paths we take!

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