Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

The Love of Lullabies

By Lea Keating
SPD mom, advocate, blogger at La La Language and founder of Sensory Street Kids.
I have a really annoying speaking voice.  No really, I do! I HATE hearing my voice narrating home videos and I constantly get telemarketers asking to speak to my mommy.  It's a throwback from my cheerleading days, and the more excited I get, the higher pitched my voice goes.
But I'm a champ at "Motherese" - the high pitched, high affect "babytalk" that makes me quite popular amongst the toddler crowd.  I have no problems gathering up a group of little ones and leading them in an exciting high energy game, or acting out a story book, or pretending to go on a group adventure.  We giggle and squeal and get super excited - SUCH fun for a high energy afternoon.  But at bedtime ... Not so much! 
I have a sensory seeking little man.  High fun and HIGH energy.  He typically has 2 modes - super high speed running and crashing into everything, or meltdown mode - laying on the floor in hysterics because he is over tired and over stimulated.  My challenge has been to find that moment between hyperdrive and meltdown and teach him how to navigate through it.  Find his way to calm and relaxed. Our sensory diet made a big difference in ourdaily lives,but bedtime was always a challenge. We stuck to a routine - Bath, brush, book, bed.  If only it was as simple as that!  He loves books, and would lay quietly through three of them, but a soon as they were done ... Pop! Up and out of bed AGAIN. 
As frustrating as it was for me to wrestle through bedtime, I could see how frustrated he was as well.  He was SO TIRED.  Overtired - but he couldn't calm himself down.  In and out of bed, all the while me explaining to him why he was so tired, or pleading with him to just try to rest.  One night I noticed that the more I talked to him (in my already established annoying voice) the more worked up he got.  Seriously, my voice is like speed to this kid!   This had to change!
Through Sensory Street Kids I'm lucky enough to have a group of experts to consult with.  During our "round table" discussions where we collaborate on curriculum, I brought up my bedtime concerns.  Kristy Miller, our speech therapist, explained that "motherese" was all wrong for bedtime and not really great for high energy kids in general.  I was right - my voice was amping him up.  I needed to slow it down and drop 2-3 octaves.  We then discussed general relaxation techniques, meditation, deep breathing, mantras ... Ummm, yeah that's all great, but did I mention that he's only 5! Adults have trouble with all this, there is just no way that my active little man (who is still in speech therapy for communication issues) is going to learn these relaxation methods. Or so I thought.
What I didn't take into account is the power of the lullaby.  What better way to lull a little one to sleep than a soothing quiet tune. Add relaxation suggestions and some deep breathing and you have a home run. Just remember the three S's: Sing Slowly, Sing Softly, and Sing Simply.
Sing Slowly:  Slowly.  I mean slllllooooooowwwwwwly.  Draw out your syllables and take breaths between every couple of words.
Sing Softly: Sing quietly, and also sing in a deeper voice - by the end of the tune you could be singing in a breathess whisper.  Your tone sets the mood!
Sing Simply:  Keep the words simple.  Humming or "LaLaLa's" work great.  We've chosen the word "quiet" as a mantra.  "Quiet" works especially well because we generalize it into other aspects of our day - we cue "no running" by saying "quiet feet", "no talking" is "quiet mouth" - etc.  Some nights I just sing the word Quiet slowly to the tune of Silent Night.
Well, I'm yawning just writing this, so I'd better sign off.  Next time I'll introduce you to "The Quiet Song" - and talk a little about incorporating progressive relaxation techniques.
La La for now,
Lea  =)

1 comment:

Dena Page said...

Great post! When my daughter was young, and my niece before her, I sang them to sleep with a same/different lullaby every night. I'd sing "Hush Little Baby, Don't Say a Word", but by the 3rd verse, I'd be making up my own words. The slow, soothing familiarity of it was great for triggering thoughts of sleep for them, but I'd keep myself sane by coming up with different rhymes each night. It was an exciting challenge, and a great help when my niece (SPD) needed to be sung to for 20-30 minutes or else she'd pop back awake.

Post a Comment