The only sleep book that's ever worked for my child
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 March 2017
I think this book, and its predecessor, Roger the Rabbit, are quite marmite in that you love them or hate them. But I love it! And thank you so much to the author for writing a second as Roger was doing my head in. Ellen the elephant is a far sweeter tale than Roger the Rabbit, and the illustrations are more pleasing to the eye for the parent to look at (the child shouldn't be looking, though obviously they do).
'The Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep' is about an elephant named Ellen who tells her mummy she's tired and wants to go to sleep. She says goodbye to her mother and then takes her friend who's listening to the story (your child), off on an adventure through the magical sleepy forest, meeting sleepy forest friends along the way. It uses NLP and hypnotherapy techniques to encourage sleep, it's completely safe and the child will only fall asleep if they're ready for sleep i.e. they're still in control of themself. It also helps them to associate sleep with something that's pleasant and relaxing, and actually your own voice will start to act as a trigger, so if you read other stories in the same style they will start to promote the idea of sleep.
My daughter usually falls asleep by the 4th page, and it's very rare she is awake by the last page. Even if she is, she's usually calm and just remains in her bed 'reading' her other books and then drops off on her own.
This is how I get it to work for me:
My daughter knows the rules for Roger the Rabbit, or Ellen the Elephant are that she has to close her eyes, lie down with her head on the pillow, and listen to the story. She rarely follows these rules, but by having them, if she ever does mess about I tell her she has to follow the rules or I'm going to leave her to get to sleep on her own, and she instantly attempts to follow them.
I follow the instructions which involve speaking slower in parts, emphasising some phrases, and yawning when instructed.
But I've learnt a few things over the past year:
'Speaking slower', you don't have to speak really, really slowly. I used to do this and it drove me crazy with boredom. But it's just a guide, you can just leave bigger gaps between words and phrases, or just slow down these sections a small amount. It's like when someone reads a relaxation script in yoga or something.
'Emphasising words'. Initially I found myself almost shouting out these parts. This isn't necessary. I now actually try and drop the volume of these phrases and just work on actually stressing the key words instead.it work's a lot better, like when you're trying to emphasise a point to small child whilst remaining calm.
'Yawning'. Sitting in a dimly lit room it's not that hard to initiate yawning, and it's a great prompt. After a few weeks I'd find my daughter yawning at these exact points before I'd even yawned. It means as she gets older I reckon I'll be able to yawn when I think it's her bedtime and it'll start the idea of going to sleep even more so than yawning usually does.
'Using her name'. I do this up until when she starts to get drowsy/her eyes start to close, then I cut it out as I think it jolts her back to wakefulness. But she does love initially that her name is in the story, and that the rabbit and elephant are just like her (the exact same age, and they enjoy the same things as she does).
Once she's closed her eyes, I finish that section and then just read a couple of paragraphs that promote sleep and relaxation. I jump to "A calmness and relaxation spreads right through your whole body...", then the paragraph above, "The relaxation gets deeper and deeper inside your head...", then onto the last 3 paragraphs "Ellen the elephant says thank you...". This ensures she's in a deep sleep, but without me stopping abruptly, or having to finish reading the whole book (which is pretty long) to a sleeping child which was suggested in the Roger book.
Overall I wouldn't be without this book, and it goes wherever she sleeps. But if the reader isn't on board with it, or the child is hyped up or being sent to bed when they really aren't tired yet, it's less likely to work. Children pick up on their parents emotions, and hear all they say. If they hear their parent talking badly about the book, or even overhear them saying what it's supposed to do, they may well resist it. I also used to play relaxation music too, just to really get my child relaxed. It's all been worth it as now bedtime is easy and I get an evening, which was never the case when she was younger. And it works for adults too!!
Hope this helps, and good luck to all parents in need of sleep!
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