Q: My son gets so squirrelly in the evenings that he just can't seem to settle down at bedtime. We've tried music, stories, warm baths with lavender, massage, calming teas, and every other soothing aid we can think of, but he just seems to become more determined to bounce around or shout or throw things around. What else can we do?
A: Here's a different angle to try: wrestle and play other highly physical games with him to allow him to playfully experience resistance and warm, fun physical contact with you. It might seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes when kids wind up in the evening it's due to a backlog of unexpended energy or some unprocessed emotional experiences that have accumulated during the day, and if that's the case, calming activities don't seem to settle them down (f anything, they sometimes have the reverse effect and wind them up even more!)
Wrestling (but not tickling!) can give kids a healthy, connected way to "fight their demons" and emerge victorious and ready for sleeping. If this seems like something you'd like to try, there are some good suggestions and support on www.handinhandparenting.org. Just do a search on bedtime or sleep. You might also search for 'vigorous snuggle' which is great any time of day.
Since it sounds like he might be trying to release accumulated energy by vocalizing, you might also try a singing or yodeling contest (you against him), or playing opera, or making up silly songs together about his day and singing them loudly together, or playing with the echo in the bathroom by shouting funny words together during his bath.
Hand in Hand also has an active and well-moderated yahoo group: handinhanddiscuss
hope this helps!
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