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 responsive parenting community

Emilie is a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor, and was a paediatric speech and language therapist in her former life. She provides support and coaching for parents via the Journeys in Parenting community. Emilie lives in Berkshire in the UK with her husband and 3 children.

Journeys in Parenting is a community group for parents, carers and parents-to-be, who want to find out more about parenting in a responsive and peaceful way. The community offers information, advice and emotional support for this hard work we do as parents. The vision of the group is to be a safe space, where parents are supported in guiding their families in ways which: are respectful to children; meet the parents' needs; and lead to a more peaceful planet for all.

To work one-to-one with Emilie , request a free 15-minute trial call here or visit the website for more details

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