One night, my (then) four-year-old daughter was very restless at nap time. I knew she was tired, but she just could not sit still. Call it normal child restlessness or the urge to avoid sleep at all costs - who knows? Whatever the reason, I knew I had to do something about it.
First, I tried reading her favorite Dr. Seuss book "Fox In Socks", which was generally a nap time favorite. However, after the story was over she was still fidgeting and she also did so throughout the entire story. I wondered what to do next. "Hmm", I thought to myself. I then tried gently massaging her neck and shoulders, which tends to help on days like this. Nothing.
I was forced to think deeper and get more creative. I had it! I laid down beside her and whispered softly in her ear "Close your eyes and pretend you're a pretty butterfly flying high in the sky." She smiled. And closed her eyes. Success! It worked. Within mere seconds, she was fast asleep.
Since that day I used the same technique on all of the children many times, with success (until they got old enough that they didn’t want or need it). Each time, I would give them something new to think about. It became somewhat of a game. They’d eagerly await their nightly or nap time suggestion with a look of anticipation on their innocent little faces. Despite the regularity, the looks on their faces were priceless each and every time.
I noticed that the suggestive thoughts helped them sleep more soundly. Did they dream them? Did they give them peace? I can't say for sure, but I know that once they had their thought, my kids always slept without tossing and turning and would wake rested and cheerful for the day to begin. They would also drift off to sleep extra fast, seemingly eager to picture the thoughts in their heads.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network