With or without a story, with or without the TV, one thing is more important than the rest when our children get into bed and that is not to disturb them. It sounds so simple and logical and therefore almost everyone sends their children to bed every night and tries hard not to disturb them … this, especially, is when we steer them out of sleeping, and they drive us crazy.

If a child feels tired at eight o’clock, let’s say he has an internal motivation to go to sleep every night at eight. Yet every night at eight the same thing happens; together with the internal motivation to sleep, he also has another internal motivation and that is to be autonomous. The motivation for autonomy is the ambition to be independent. This is the motivation to act according to a daily schedule that God, and not his mother, ordained for him. The more motivated his parents are that he fall asleep, the stronger the motivation he will have to sleep, thereby losing the ability to recognize his internal motivation. The more we want him to sleep, the less he will want to.

We don’t want to stop our kids from falling asleep so we keep things quiet. Yet that is precisely the way that we push back the time when he will fall asleep. The quiet, aside from the fact that it frightens our children, tells them “Mommy and Daddy are trying to put me to sleep.” Children, as we said, do not fall asleep when we try to put them to sleep. This is the reason that when it is noisy, they will fall asleep faster. They will fall asleep more quickly if we watch TV or talk among ourselves and have difficulty doing so especially if we chose to read a book, under quiet pressure. I mean, of course, “good noise” because when Mommy and Daddy argue between themselves that is “bad noise” and children don’t fall asleep when there is bad noise in the background.

On the other hand, the good noise children hear is when we talk on the phone, wash dishes, or listen to the news on the TV (don’t turn it down!). This noise reminds our child that his weariness is his own. That sleep is its own. The more natural we are and the less pushy, the more our kids will hear the good noise. What do you think will send a child who wakes up back to sleep? If we whisper to him or talk to him naturally and normally?

Sometimes we try so hard to put our children to sleep but if we take them to a noisy event at night, like a wedding, for example, they fall asleep on our shoulders. Every morning we fight to wake them up, but on Saturday (the day of rest) they come jumping onto our bed at six thirty AM.
When my children were two and three years old, I remember how I talked on the phone from one of the rooms as my children got into bed. The funny thing about the story is that no one except me was on the phone. I talked to my self - but not for long because my children were soon fast asleep.

It’s important to understand that when children go to sleep they experience separation. The good noise eases the separation and at the same time gives them a message of “I have a life and world of my own.” The good noise is comforting and causes the children to fall asleep naturally, which is the fastest way I know of.
On the other hand, if we try to make them fall asleep faster, we will probably find ourselves loosing our patience and deeply involved in the fight. Now see what happens: the motivation for autonomy, that is designed to cause children to fall asleep at eight, not only wakes him up at eight but also awakens another internal motivation and this is the need to be loved by Mommy and Daddy. But Mommy and Daddy are now impatient and the child is left with an unsolved conflict. Children cannot fall asleep when conflicts are unresolved. You already know the rest.

So how is it done? In a nonchalant manner. We put children to sleep by boredom. Ten times he’ll get up and come to me - ten times I’ll take his hand and walk him back to bed, focusing on myself and my doings. I don’t get angry and don’t raise the psychological conflict. Tonight he’ll get up ten times. Tomorrow five. The day after tomorrow, twice. By a week we’re free.

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