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Sleep Talking to solve behavior problems

By BRIGITTE ROZARIO

Sue, aged four, had selective mute syndrome. She would choose when and who to talk to. Her parents didn't know what to do and in the end they opted for a relatively new solution – the Goulding SleepTalk process.

What it involved for Sue's parents was merely learning how to feed their child positive messages for about two minutes every day, shortly after she had gone to sleep. The positive messages of encouragement were fed to Sue's subconscious mind as she was sleeping. These messages succeeded in boosting her confidence and discarded any insecurities and doubts that she might have had.

Sue's mum, Veronica Lim of Petaling Jaya, says, “When I first started SleepTalk, the results were slow. Now Sue has become more confident and she has been talking a lot lately outside the home. She also has more friends and frets if she can’t go to kindergarten when she’s sick! When the new school year was about to start this year, I knew there would be no more crying and clinging on to me. Sue has been asking when she can see her friends again!”

The Goulding SleepTalk process, created by Australian Joanne Goulding more than 30 years ago, helps parents to feed positive messages and boost their child's confidence while the child sleeps.

Explaining the SleepTalk course offered to parents, Joyce Hue, certified hypnotherapist, licensed Hypno-Band practitioner and Sleep Talk consultant with advance dynamics asia (ADA), says:

“Normally, we will talk to the parents to find out what the child is going through now – how are they behaviour-wise at home and in school. Based on that, with the parents' input we will compose a set of statements for them to repeat to the child as he or she sleeps.

“In the SleepTalk course, we empower parents to help their children overcome problems. Very often, if you bring the child in to see us, the child won't trust us as we are strangers to them. They would trust the parents, so it's better if the parents inject the positive messages into their subconscious.

“At night when the child is asleep is the best time to talk to them because the conscious mind shuts down and it is easier to talk to the subconscious mind. At that point when you inject positive thoughts into your child's mind, they will accept it and believe it.”

According to her, the positive messages are only given for two minutes every night and it is done during the beginning part of the child's sleep.

There is a certain time frame when SleepTalk should be done. There's also a certain procedure and template on how to do it. Every child is different which is why parents need to be coached by certified SleepTalk consultants on how to do it.

Parents only need to meet the ADA consultants twice and after that they stay in touch via email for about three to six months.

Ellis Soo, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner and SleepTalk consultant, says that ADA works on issues that the child is having – such as separation anxiety, bedwetting, nailbiting and confidence.

Hue (left) and Soo of ADA offer SleepTalk courses to parents.

Hue explains that SleepTalk works best on children aged two to about 14. The kindergarten years would be the best, although they can still do it at primary school. As the child gets older, it is a little bit more difficult because smaller children have a less complex filtering system in their subconscious and tend to believe what is told to them. This is why the process is harder to conduct on teenagers and adults.

Having said that, the oldest child who went through SleepTalk with ADA was 18 years old.

According to Soo, in the beginning when the issue is bigger, parents are advised to do SleepTalk every night. But after some time, as the problem diminishes, parents can skip a night or two if they have to go out at night.

“Frankly, it's just part of the process of putting a child to bed.

“One of the things we teach is how to record the parent's voice and play it back when the child is asleep, because sometimes parents go abroad and might have to leave the child in the care of a grandparent or minder. In which case, the grandparent can play back the recording. This is a worse case scenario if the parents can't be there. Of course, it's best if the parent does it himself or herself, for efficacy and bonding reasons as well,” she adds.

Hue says that ADA only teaches SleepTalk to parents who want to conduct it on their children. Normally the child doesn't know what the parents are doing. When the child is asleep the parents will talk to the child without the child's knowledge.

“We only teach this to parents as they are the ones the child trusts. If we were to do it for the child, it would be unethical as we are strangers to the child.

“The parents want what's best for their child so they would give their children positive statements via SleepTalk. If parents don't know what to say, then we would help them. In fact we do guide them on what to say as, depending on how you phrase your sentence, the child might misinterpret it.

“It's all about how you word the positive statements,” she says.

Hue and Soo believe that instilling positive messages in the child will also affect the child's academic performance in the long run. This is because of the domino effect that starts with a child who is emotionally secure. It will lead to the child being happier in school and this will help them focus better on their studies.

Despite the fact that both hypnotherapy and SleepTalk work on an individual's subconscious, Hue asserts that SleepTalk is not hypnosis.

“The only way it is similar to hypnosis is that they both work on the subconscious mind. I am a hypnotherapist and I see a lot of people who have issues which started at childhood. I think it's best to deal with these issues at childhood before the children grow up and have to deal with the issues in adulthood,” says Hue.

The fee for the SleepTalk course with ADA is RM500 upfront for the whole six months where ADA finds out the challenges involved, helps train the parents and guides them as to how to conduct SleepTalk.

ADA has been offering SleepTalk courses for a year now. According to both ladies, they have seen a lot of improvement in the children who have gone through SleepTalk.

Among the satisfied parents is Stephen Koh of Shah Alam, who says, “I signed up for SleepTalk as I was desperate because my youngest son Yee Hui, six, would always fight with his elder siblings. He would only stick to my wife and me and never played with his siblings. Even if he did, he would be a sore loser and would cry and scream if he lost. But SleepTalk was amazing. I slowly noticed that he started to talk and joke with his siblings. He does share toys and plays with them now. Even if he loses (he is bad in games) he only pulls a long face and wants to play again. My children are happier now and there is more peace at home.”

ADA's website can be found at advance-dynamics-asia.com/.