Sleep talking to your child is similar to hypnosis and may help target your child’s subconscious to make changes. Practice saying positive phrases to your child to encourage better behavior and habits. It should be noted that no studies back up the effectiveness of sleep talking. If your child has problems that are not improving, see their pediatrician or a mental health specialist.
Focus on behaviors you want to encourage.
Sleep talking is sometimes used to raise a child’s self-confidence or to encourage certain behaviors. For example, you might use sleep talking in an effort to encourage dry underpants while potty training, encourage problem-solving when upset, or increase cooperative play.
For example, you may want to encourage your child to sleep through the night, excel at reading, wash their hands regularly, or to treat other children with kindness.
Try 1-5 things at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your child with a long list each session.
Enter their room while they’re fast asleep.
You can sleep talk to your child either once they fall asleep at night or before they wake up in the morning. Some parents choose to come into their child’s room up to an hour before they wake to use affirmative sleep talk. This is when your child is in a deep sleep, so they may be more receptive to your words.
If you can’t do sleep talking in the morning, find time at night to do it, such as when your child has fallen asleep or an hour or two after they fall asleep.
Don’t spend more than 5-10 minutes sleep talking to your child.
Repeat the affirmation every day for a minimum of 4 weeks so that they can become familiar with it and accept it. Consistently repeating the affirmations may help them stick. Use sleep talking daily so that your child can become familiar with the phrases and begin to embed them.
Set aside time each morning or night for the affirmations. Set an alarm if you need a reminder.
Preface the sleep talk.
Once you walk in, use a calm and soothing voice to talk to your child. Identify yourself and tell your child to keep sleeping. Your movements may disturb them or they may briefly wake at the sound of your voice. Telling them to keep sleeping may help them stay asleep.
For example, say, “Hello, Dotty, this is Dad. Keep sleeping!”
Affirm your love for them.
Each session, start by telling your child how much you love them and what they mean to you. Let them know that you are always there for them come what may.
For example, say, “Ryan, your mom and I love you so much. We will always love you and support you.”
Use positive phrases.
Avoid negative words or phrases. Even if you’re trying to train a bad behavior out, phrase it positively and not negatively. Focus on improving something, not pointing out something that’s not quite right.
For example, say, “Tommy always talks softly” and, “Tommy is a kind and friendly boy.” Avoid negative phrasing like, “Tommy does not talk loudly” and, “Tommy does not beat other kids.” Using positive statements will be more effective than using negative statements.
Keep statements in the present tense.
Say it as if it’s already true, not going to be true. This can help your child believe the statement as true of themselves, not something they can aspire to be. Don’t focus on what you want or don’t want, say it as it is.
For example, instead of saying, “I want you to play well with others,” say, “Tyler plays well with other children and shares his toys.”