I use Story Massage as an approach to help toddlers get ready, relaxed and calm for bedtime, it is a practical and simple way of introducing positive touch into the bedtime routine, particularly for the wriggly child (you know if you have one) who would benefit from the release of the love hormone (oxytocin) but simply won’t sit still for full on massage techniques.
What is Story Massage:
Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, nurturing touch with the fun and creativity of storytelling. Perfect as part of the bedtime routine.
There are 10 key strokes that the company who I trained with uses, however parents can design their own ‘bank’ of strokes.
Here are some common examples:
Rest one hand on your child’s shoulder. With the flat of the other hand, make a large circular movement on the back. Try to use the whole of your hand so that you have as much contact as possible. This can be in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.
Using your fingers to patter all over your child’s back from the top to the bottom and back up again if desired and fit with the story.
Rest one hand on your child’s shoulder and one at the opposite side at the bottom of their back and using the whole of your hand gently but firmly move your hands up and down their back.
Hear is an example of peer to peer massage with School age children, this can also be done parent to child and visa versa.
Benefits to Sleep:
I have personally seen how introducing simple and short story massages into a toddler’s bedtime routine helps with how quickly they take to fall asleep, the story massage helps to boost connection, can involve the whole family and does not require any creams or oils and children can have their pyjamas on too, then just pop straight into bed afterwards.
The positive impact of the ‘feel-good’ hormone, oxytocin, is now a key factor in research into the physical, emotional, social and educational benefits of positive touch.
Oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. Within 40 seconds of nurturing touch, the hormone is released into the bodies of those giving as well as those receiving gentle touch. So everyone gets the benefit!
Research by the Touch Research Institute in Miami shows that oxytocin has a positive effect on reducing anxiety and aggression, and promoting relaxation, well-being and attentiveness.
Research also shows that it helps with bonding and developing trust and social interaction with others.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg, author of The Oxytocin Factor, Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing and she shared the many positive effects of oxytocin and how this simple touch approach can indirectly support better sleep, this is because when the body has a high level of cortisol and/or adrenalin (which can be naturally high in toddlers by the end of the day) make it more difficult to fall asleep, positive touch releases oxytocin which can have a balancing effect on these other hormones and result in the feelings of calm and relaxation thus making it easier to fall asleep (as long as your toddler is tired enough of course)
Incorporating Story Massage into your child’s routine:
After your usual bedtime routine…
1. Put pyjamas on
2. Sit together
3. Read the story you will base the massage on (Optional)
4. Gain permission “would you like a nice relaxing massage?”
5. Base it on a favourite story or nursey rhyme (best to have something prepared)
6. Encourage your child or children to take turns and include you in the massage too.
In short, this simple, practical and fun method of introducing touch into your toddler’s bedtime routine can help them to fall asleep easier. Why not download the example, design your own or get the book and try it for a week then let me know how you get on?