Guided Relaxation Prayer is a method to teach a child to self-soothe and have brain-restorative sleep. Parents can use Guided Relaxation Prayer to treat pediatric insomnia in children of all ages. This is Personal Prayer Relaxation before the child has language skills. Let me describe how it works.
After following the sleep hygiene guidelines in my Bedtime Prayers blog-post, Mom or Dad offers sincere and personal prayers of gratitude, plus …
They modulate their tone and pace their voice to match their child’s exhalations, like a loving chant.
Gratitude prayers have a special effect on the brain. When we express gratitude to God for those we love, neural networks respond with a calming peace that spreads throughout the body.
Putting the brain to sleep on love harnesses the hippocampus to create a lifelong love story. As the gateway to our biography, our hippocampus records emotional memories while we sleep. Loving and happy and safe emotional memories help to create a loving and happy and safe childhood.
Tone-modulation and pacing and breath-synchronization in a loving chant helps the child’s breathing to deepen and brainwaves to slow.
“But my six-month-old daughter doesn’t know what I’m praying!”
Actually, yes she does!
Although a pre-verbal child will not have literal understanding, Mom or Dad’s salient emotions of love and gratitude will register in her brain. The deep understanding of their heartfelt prayers sets the stage for literal understanding that will occur as her verbal abilities develop.
And here’s the key to lifelong happiness – Memories based on salient emotions are much more resilient than those based only on words. Salient emotions can be positive or negative. Prayers of gratitude are positive, crowding-out negativity.
We feel what we believe and we believe what we feel.
Gratitude prayers powerfully affect the brain when we express gratitude for those we love because oxytocin fuels the language of love in our brain.
Oxytocin is a neurochemical that promotes bonding and secure attachment.
Your child (and you) was introduced to oxytocin at birth. Oxytocin triggered Mom’s birth contractions and her milk letdown and her bonding with you. As you lay wet and warm on your exhausted mother’s chest and breathed her in, you were infused with oxytocin.
And oxytocin is a crucial part of parents’ experience of loving words and touch that leads to deep and refreshing sleep for them, as well.
And so, we lay the foundation of prayer life solidly on love.
Moving beyond infancy, as the toddler becomes verbal, gratitude prayer time is shared, each taking turns being grateful. This is when the Christian parent gradually introduces God and Jesus.
At about three years of age, the child will begin to express her deep trust of God and feel the strong love that Jesus offers.
“But how can a child learn to trust God at three years of age? Does she even have a concept of God at that age?”
Well before her language develops, your child’s brain was attuned to the emotions of her parents. Whom they love, she loves.
The pre-verbal child’s neural networks in her emotional brain extend up through her hippocampus into her rational/verbal brain and begin to write her narrative, her story.
Her story begins with loving emotions and continues to be written with words, all brought into her life through the hippocampus. In a future blog post, we’ll explore how parents can help her to develop a healthy hippocampus and how that affects her character.
For more information about the intersection of faith and neuroscience in our daily lives, read Your Faithful Brain: Designed for so Much More! For more information about Brain-Restorative Sleep for people of all ages, and for counselors who would like to provide Brain-Restorative Sleep services, please contact us at www.faithfulbrain.com.