A Cure for “Over-Tiredness”
. . . let every child, before going to bed, hold a high court of revelry, let him have an hour—the Children’s Hour—devoted to romp, to dance, to shout, to sing, to riot, and to play, and let him be the master of the revels . . . .
- Dr. P.H. Chavasse, Advice to a Mother, 1878
During a typical busy day, your child accumulates a collection of unhealed and partly healed hurts, frustrations, and tensions. They are likely to resurface in the evening as “over-tiredness.” The main feature of over-tiredness is crying.
The main feature of the cure is also crying. If you cooperate, your child will quickly clear away her over-tiredness, usually in three stages:
First, she runs around laughing and shouting. Parents often misunderstand this stage and try to suppress it. They know from experience that it will lead to crying, and they worry that their child is “getting all wound up just before bed.” In fact this wild behavior is just what she needs, and is winding her down, not up.
Second, she cries. She may use a trivial incident to get the crying started—a minor disappointment, or a stumble that would not have fazed her earlier in the day. She cries and cries.
Third, she talks. She asks thoughtful questions and evaluates the day’s occurrences.
What to Do
Your part in the cure is simple, and can be enjoyable once you get used to it.
During the running-around stage, do not worry that your child seems to be getting “all wound up” or that she will soon be crying. Just enjoy the hijinks, and join in if you like. Once you stop worrying and trying to control the situation, this can become one of the high points of your day.
During the crying stage, watch and listen. Remain calm and relaxed. Be available to hold your child. Refrain from interrupting her crying with questions, arguments, or advice.
During the talking stage, listen and respond. The talking may be interspersed with yawning. Your little one may go peacefully to sleep, or she may emerge from her cure feeling refreshed and alert, yet calm. Her over-tiredness will be gone and she will be an angel for the rest of the evening.