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Hypnosis Can Help Your Children Sleep

Babies generally know how to sleep and one of the greatest achievements a parent has when the baby is six or seven months is getting the baby to sleep through the night. After two years old, when they can walk and talk, children seek a higher level of stimulation, often from whatever source they can. Their brains and their minds are also shaped by the kinds of situations they are exposed to, along with the frequency and timing of that exposure. Neural pathways are forged by exposure to experience.

What you teach your child early will determine their brain mechanisms

At six or seven months old you are trying to get your child to sleep the whole night through without waking you up for a feed in the middle of the night. Parents develop a certain amount of continuity for their child beginning to sleep through. Later when the child is more responsive and can engage in language, parents begin to let the child stay up past their bed time as a treat.

If one parent comes home later the child may remain awake until they have spent time with that parent. You think you are benefiting the child by giving them more family time but you are disturbing their sense of routine. After a while the child attempts to assert their own will, which begins very early: the child associates staying up past their bedtime with triumph and the right to choose their own destiny, so they begin to push the envelope. What may start as being something quite innocent, like more family time, becomes the root of the child’s problem of being unable to sleep or wanting to go to bed at irregular times.

Put your child to bed at exactly the same time every night

Child need routine and consistency of behaviour from their parents as this helps them forge neural pathways that allows them to sleep well at anticipated times, preventing the resistance about going to bed at the same time every night. A tired and grumpy child is a nightmare for everyone, including the child, because people do not connect well with an unhappy child and bedtime and getting up becomes an unholy battle between the adults and the child.

The environment in which you put your child to bed can induce or prevent sleep. To help your child sleep, make sure there is no television, computer devices or music systems in their room. Those devices stimulate the child so you need to make their bedroom a place of low stimulation so they can begin to calm down and associate the space with sleep at their bedtime, not watching the television or playing computer games.

Make the child’s bedroom friendly and fun but quiet and peaceful

So as your child grows up, you have to teach them to sleep at the right times in low-stimulation environments, without resistance. If you do not show consistency of approach, don’t expect your child to respond to consistently. They are, after all, following the leader so you need to be putting as much effort into inducing your child to sleep as you do getting them up and out of bed in the morning. I never help children with sleep and behaviour problems, without the parents being part of the therapy because the parents have as much to learn as the child about the child’s good sleeping habits.

One of the very best ways to put your child into the mood to sleep is to break the end of the day with a bedtime story. The ceremony around the bedtime story associates in their mind that it is time to get into bed and to sleep. It also gives them a sense of surety that you will be there while they sleep to watch over them.

Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BSc, ND is a clinical hypnotherapist and naturopath who has worked with children with behavioural problems in co-ordination with their families. She is Director of the Australian Health and Education Centre, Sydney. Her recorded Alice the Boat series of children’s’ bedtimes stories are specially designed to help children sleep. They are backed with binaural beats at a delta wave sound form that further induces relaxation in your children, persuading them to sleep. The stories are also laced with teaching tales about good behaviour and kindness and good interpersonal relationships.

For more info, one can log on to or book an appointment with me at my Sydney clinic by telephoning 02 9571 4333.

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