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Monday, November 18, 2013

A to ZZZZZZ - A Good-Night Game

Occasionally one or more of my three children has a difficult time falling asleep.  Usually the reason is what I call "Restless Brain Syndrome."  I tried to research this topic on line and found articles related to actual sleep disorders, ADHD, and various diagnoses.  None of these applied to what I will share with you today.  We all have moments when concerns prevent us from "turning off" our brain at the end of a long day.  Children experience these moments too.

My six-year-old, Sebastien, has way too many ideas going on for someone so young. Throughout the day he typically comes up with ideas for new superheroes, what they will wear, their character traits, and how they will be incorporated in his next movie script.  He creates elaborate drawings of buildings, his future tree house, and martial arts gear. I can't keep enough paper, glue, and tape in the house to sustain the tremendous creativity that emanates from this tiny being.  And I wouldn't have it any other way!  Sebastien often competes with his eight-year-old brother, Nathan, for how many journals he can go through each month.  Those books are filled to overflowing with a treasure of amazing and intricate structures. Perhaps someday it will help them determine the course of their future career interests.

For now, I am responsible for the daunting task of assisting my zealous bunch in decompressing at the end of the day so that they can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle school each morning. Mondays are especially challenging since they have had two days of "free-style" activities coursing through their veins.  So last night Sebastien needed a little extra assistance winding down and getting to sleep.  I am grateful at these times that I worked with awesome Pediatric Occupational and Physical Therapists back in the day who made me aware of Sensory Integration issues and how different children respond to stimuli.

In the interest of sharing some intriguing Parenting Tid Bits...

  • What Is Sensory Integration? - › … › Sensory Integration Dysfunction
    This article explores sensory integration: what it is and what problems relate to it.

  • Sensory processing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Images of sensory Integration

    Although my children have not been diagnosed with "Sensory Integration Disorder"  I can appreciate many of the concepts and have adapted our bed time routine to accommodate my children's energies, activity levels, and tendencies toward sensory over load at bed time.  To help them de-camp from their list of unfulfilled activities and dreams of future creations, we came up with a Good-Night Game to distract them and help them relax:

    You are probably familiar with this game in some form.  I call it the A to ZZZZ Good -Night Game.  I ask Sebastien, Nathan, or Isabella to imagine that there are little lambs or another type of animal who are still out in the farmer's field.  It is getting late and it is time for them to come home so we can put them to bed.  Each animal has a name beginning with the letter A,B, C...etc.  We sometimes use this as a memory game too and list all the animals each time we add a new one.  (think of the game "I'm going on a trip and in my suitcase I will pack...)  Same concept!  It's fun to hear the names they choose.  One night, Sebastien just wanted to make a list and not say all the names every time a new name was selected.  I knew then that he was already tired.  Works like magic!  Here's why:
    • It allows the children to participate in one last activity before calling it quits for the evening.
    • The repetition and refocusing of thought process allows the brain to relax similar to meditation.
    • It provides the children with a strategy that can be adapted for future use.
    • The children have control over the type of animal and the names.
    I once worked with a teacher with whom I shared my dilemma regarding how to help my children decompress at the end of their day.  She shared her story about how she was the same way as a child.  Her mother let her talk about her day before bedtime or read a story to her...anything to help get her mind off the many things she would think about late at night.  As an adult, she still experiences these same issues and was very helpful to me when I would arrive to work tired after dealing with my sleepless child.  Just hearing her express how she felt as a child helped me gain awareness of my own children's concerns and come up with some strategies.

    Another strategy I came up with can be found in my blog post:
    Hope you have a wonderful Monday and Find Inspiration to Feed Your Spirit this Week!