Inside: Tired of exhausting bedtime routines with kids? Pillow talks with kids – THE RIGHT WAY – can transform behavior, build connection and create peace!
Conversations with my kids during the day, at dinnertime or after school usually goes something like this…
Me: How was your day?
Me: How are you doing? Or feeling?
Me: What was the favorite part of your day? What was interesting to you?
This isn’t the deep conversation you may have in mind when talking to your kids.
And while you don’t need to know every minute detail your child is thinking, knowing what your child is thinking and feeling will make a big difference in how you respond to behavior challenges.
Having a conversation can help reveal…
- Any unheard upsets the child had during the day.
- Something important to them that they want you to know.
- A joyous moment where you can celebrate together.
This can also prevent missed communications or unheard upsets from building and building until the child explodes or becomes very defiant.
The big question is…how do you get your kids eager to talk and share?
On This Page…
- Why pillow talks can make such a difference in your child's behavior.
- How to have pillow talks with kids - the method to my madness.
- How to choose the frequency of pillow talks.
- Starting the pillow talk off right, so your child will want to talk.
- The best way to end a pillow talk
- Final tip to avoid frustrations.
Pillow talks with kids are life changing. Here’s why.
When you get to bedtime, kids won’t stop getting out of bed or creeping downstairs to let you know that their sock is itchy, that they are thirsty or to ask you a random question.
This is all about connection and the child wanting to connect with you.
Pillow talks with kids not only help meet the need for connection, they help the child get excited for bedtime. When my kids know it’s their night to have a 15 minute pillow talk with me, they practically race at warp speed to get ready for bed.
Pillow talks are also great because…
- Kids reveal all sorts of things when the light is dim and they are laying down.
- Their bodies start to relax and prepare for sleep.
- They feel a sense of peace and contentment after sharing thoughts with you, having your full attention and knowing that you’re listening.
- You start to understand your child on a deeper level, and when seemingly “random behaviors” start to show up, they will make a lot more sense.
- Bonus: They make a great addition to any school night routine.
How to have a pillow talk with kids – the method to my madness.
1. Pick at least one night per week when you can lay with your child for 15 minutes in their dimly lit bedroom.
You can certainly do this 2 – 3 times per week if your schedule allows. How frequently you do a pillow talk with a child depends highly on how many children you have and the busyness of your weekdays and weekends.
I prefer not to make a pillow talk a daily expectation since things come up, the weekends get busy, and I like the kids to learn flexibility with routines.
Whatever you choose, it’s easier to commit to fewer pillow talks per week and add in surprise talks when time allows.
2. Start with the “Airing of the Grievances.”
You’ll often find recommendations to ask your child specific questions during a bedtime talk. Leading the conversation toward things we want to know can fall flat and cause the child to emotionally close off.
I recommend doing the exact opposite and asking little to no questions at all. This is about allowing your child to lead you where they need to go.
Starting with an “airing of grievances” helps the child get everything off their chest.
This is not meant to encourage your child to focus on the negative, but rather to help your child feel heard and understood about everything that is bothering them. This will allow the child to start problem-solving and finding solutions.
I like to start with something like this:
“Tell me everything that is bothering you. I’ll listen.”
You’d be amazed at how much you learn with this simple statement!
Kids rattle off all sorts of things you never knew upset them about the day. This is a total game-changer when trying to make sense of mysterious behaviors.
Just a few things I’ve learned in the past include…
- My son taking something from the playground and feeling guilty about it.
- Interactions with friends that my daughter didn’t like and felt upset about.
- Things that happened at school and my son felt angry.
These are just a few examples where a HUGE OPPORTUNITY presented itself to teach my kids and talk through problems. There are so many “life lessons” that can occur during bedtime talks.
If, for example, I didn’t know my son took something from the playground, I wouldn’t have been able to talk with him about how to return the item, the guilt he was feeling, and how to mend relationship with others.
3. Finish with gratitude and the best parts of their day.
After kids get all the upsets off their chest, I like to switch the talk to positive experiences from the day.
This helps bring the conversation full circle (the Yin with the Yang perhaps) and encourages kids to focus on gratitude.
I like to say something like…
“Tell me the best part of your day. I’ll listen.”
If you’re ever feeling like your child has an ungrateful heart, this can really open your eyes. Kids don’t always show gratitude on the spot and in ways we’d like.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have a grateful child! Bedtime talks are a fantastic way to help your kids show you how thankful they are!
4. Final tip: Back up bedtime for a “time cushion.”
Don’t have time for a pillow talk?
On pillow talk nights, I like to back bedtime up a bit so there is an extra 15 minutes of time.
This keeps me from getting agitated and wanting to rush through the talk. It also sets me up to actively listen and focus on what my kids are sharing.
You’d be amazed at how well this helps kids feel more at peace at bedtime.
Print this free listening checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help with listening. I always have the hardest time remembering these phrases. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join 37,000+ parents who receive my weekly parenting tips and ideas!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on bedtime with kids?
- A Quick and Easy Toddler Bedtime Routine That Works Like a Charm
- How to Build Cooperation, Independence and Listening Using a Printable Daily Schedule for Kids
- The Real Reason Kids Never Want to Go to Sleep
- How to Put a Toddler to Sleep Fast
- 2 Year-Old Sleep Regression Explained! Why It Happens and How to Fix It
- 4 Year Old Sleep Schedules – Easy to Use With Examples
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, rhythm or schedule, this email series will help you find one that will work for YOUR family. Yes, really. I've seen my sample routines work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
This free email series will help you:
- Free sample routines for your child
- Best morning routine tips and tricks your kids will actually follow
- All-time favorite parenting hacks for getting more cooperation at bedtime
- Step-by-step guide for using a printable daily schedule with kids
Having an honest talk with your children is important for their development.