Teaching a baby or child to go to sleep on their own, without the help of rocking, singing, breastfeeding, lying down with them, or other external aid, is one of the most difficult times for many parents. It’s as though getting to sleep independently is the last thing children want to do and they can carry on and resist it for hours.
Discover how to energetically separate from you baby or older child to help them sleep on their own.
When people become parents, very few have an understanding of the energetic aspects of relating with their children. Most of us are not taught about this part of communicating and so when we take the physical actions we have been told will work with dealing with our children, the results vary.
The reason they vary is that we may be doing one thing physically but energetically we may be doing another.
For example, if you have been strongly bonded with your baby, either breastfeeding or simply gazing at each other and playing, when you eventually put your baby down to sleep, you are probably still energetically enmeshed with them.
If you are not aware of this then the separation that occurs when you put your baby down can feel painful to them – literally as if you both have been ripped apart.
How I Dealt with Getting My Own Children to Sleep
Like most parents, my husband and I will usually follow a routine of bath, brushing teeth and reading books, and then saying ‘good night’. We also cuddle the kids, often lie down with them for a while, and I breastfed my children at nighttime when they were younger.
The whole routine involves us being very close, our energies very meshed with each others – it’s a classic positive mother/child and father/child bonding pattern.
(A bonding pattern is a blueprint for how human beings give and receive nurturing to and from each other. A positive bonding pattern is when the feelings involved are good, and a negative bonding pattern is when the feelings turn sour. Read more on bonding patterns here.)
So when my children and I separate as I leave the room, it can feel like we’re being torn apart – no wonder they can get upset or make excuses if this happens too abruptly.
To make it a more even transition from being close to being apart, it helps tremendously to consciously withdraw my energy field from theirs in a gradual way until I feel we are energetically independent again.
I do feel great resistance doing this from the Nurturing Mother part of me who loves being so close to them. (We all have many parts or inner selves, such as the Mother, Organiser, Adventurer, Perfectionist, and so on.) But if I allow myself to do it, I free the kids up so they can feel more comfortable being in their beds alone.
And I have found that whenever I forget to do this, the old patterns of not wanting to let go return.
Even though each of my children have had different habits about bedtime, the process of unhooking energetically has worked equally well for all three.
The Clingy Child
My eldest was the clingiest and was the kind of baby who wouldn’t go to sleep in a cot but had to be carried around to music in order to fall asleep.
And even once she was in a deep sleep she had the uncanny ability to know when I had put her down and would wake – when she was a newborn I literally ended up sleeping whenever she did because I had to keep her in my arms for all her sleeps, so to sleep myself during those times was the easiest option.
But when she was just over a year old I started to try the technique of putting her down as I separated myself from her energetically. I would begin this after reading a story and then complete it as I lay her down.
She ended up being totally happy with this – it was almost like magic.
I experimented with it and tried to lay her down while staying enmeshed with her, keeping a feeling of closeness with her in my heart and, predictably, she wouldn’t want to let me go.
The Independent Child
My next daughter was the opposite: she was happy to sleep on her own as long as she had had a good breastfeed beforehand.
And for her daytime naps, once she could walk, often she would take herself off to sleep.
She’d toddle to her cot, and climb into it on her own. It was when she was older that she wanted me to lie down with her as she went off to sleep.
For a while I enjoyed this because I missed out on her needing me for that earlier. But after I had my third child and this became unfeasable, I tried the same technique and she responded well.
The Cheeky Child
My third is more cheeky than needy and tries every trick in the book to not have to go to sleep at all, and the technique still works with her.
I’ve found that if I pay full attention to her as I place her in bed – and sometimes this is a struggle – and then tell her I understand her wish not to go to sleep and that when she’s an adult she can choose not to sleep if she wishes, and then if I calmly move my energy field away from hers and bring it closer to myself, leaving some distance between us, she will also stay in bed and go to sleep.
So if you are having trouble with your kids sleeping, I encourage you to try this. There’s more information here on the energetic aspects of relating with children.
If you still have trouble, take some time to explore whether you are finding it difficult to let your kids go and be independent from you.
Maybe you have fears about the love between you disappearing if you become less enmeshed? Maybe you have experienced energetic or physical abandonment as a child and so you believe that by separating from your children energetically you will be abandoning them? If anything like this is an issue, it is worth exploring and getting some professional help because you might be unconsciously behaving in ways that are causing you and your child difficulty.
(My post on what attachment parents can learn from ‘the other side’ will help you with this, and also my post Supernanny or Super Mama?.)
You can use this technique for separating energetically from someone when leaving anyone you have spent much time with. It will make it easier for both of you. Leaving each other when both of you are energetically independent brings a healthy closure to your meeting.
For more on how relationships in general work, including how bonding patterns and connection affects your relationship with your partner, see my book The Perfect Relationship.
Take a look at my book Enlightenment Through Motherhood for a down to earth and humourous look at how parents can grow and develop and become better at connecting with their children by actually dealing with the day-to-day challenges of parenting. (It also gives you a crash course on Eastern spirituality, explaining chakras, chanting, meditation and so on, and shows you how to get the benefits of such practices through daily family life.)