Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review: The rabbit who wants to fall asleep


The latest book to top the charts was designed to help children fall to sleep. Could it really work? Some claim that children are falling asleep before the story is even completed. How could this be?

  The rabbit who wants to fall asleep - a new way of getting children to sleep, by Carl-Johan Firssen Ehrlin, created this book using psychological techniques.



My experience related to helping children calm down is with mindfulness practice, guided meditations, and body scans. I think all of these are evident, to a degree, in this book.

There is also suggestion throughout the book. This makes it a bit difficult to read. One of the affirmations repeated is the word "now." It is often a stand alone statement meant to emphasize the previous one. If one tried to read this book like any other story book, then it sounds dramatically out of place and uncomfortable

DAY ONE
 This was a fantastic day to test this book. My son, age 5, was crying, rolling on the floor, and throwing pillows because he was simultaneously "too full" from an apple eaten 2 hours earlier and "too hungry" to function. He was also too tired to eat, which he demonstrated by slowly knocking his milk over with the back of his hand as he cascaded across the dining table.

 After waiting for him to clean up the above mentioned messes, it was time to take this baby for a test run. I skimmed the directions while he got settled and while snuggling on the couch, I read.

 While reading his eye did get a little droopy, but that is our normal reading/snuggling time and he didn't nap. Throughout the story he asked questions like, "Where is my name?" "Why do you keep yawning?" "Why are you talking like that?" "Just read it NORMAL!"

 He was still awake at the end of the story, but went straight to his room. Usually I sit with him, rub his belly, and listen to his end of the day thoughts as his night time routine. This can last anywhere from 5-20 minutes, or more, and ends with him telling me to come back in 10 minutes. Followed by him yelling across the house for me to come back.

 Tonight, I sat with him for about 2 minutes, said goodnight, then he said goodnight and curled up in his blankets before I got to the door.


DAY TWO
 Today was the polar opposite from yesterday. After bath time, my little cheerfully got dressed and brushed his hair & teeth. He then bounced into the living room, saw me folding laundry, and declared, "I can help!"

Then he did.

For 30 minutes.

Yeah? Right? Seriously? He folded and sorted like a pro. It was amazing. Then he went and got "the bunny book" and asked me if we had time for a story. We read snuggled on the couch. I did all of the fake/real yawns as cued, inserted his name into the story, read slowly and louder as indicated. He sat wide eyed and asked me to point to his name every time I said it.

[ name ]

Unfortunately, that is what it looks like when you "read" their name. For my son, that made him question why it said that and not his actual name. He also laughed, complained, or told me to stop every time I yawned. Whether that is because it made him want to yawn or was just annoying is unknown.

After the story, we had a typical going to bed night. He wanted me to stay in his room, he wanted his belly rubbed, he had to come find me to show me the *insert random body part here* that hurt, he needed water, etc etc... That lasted about 10 minutes before he went to sleep. Not too shabby, but not falling asleep mid-book either.

DAY THREE
I fell asleep on the couch before bed time, then ushered the children to bed half asleep. No reading today.

DAY FOUR
"I really don't want to read that story again..."

DAY FIVE
*glaring at the rabbit book before bedtime*

DAY TEN
"I should probably try reading that again to see how it goes..."

DAY TWENTY
"Yeah... I'm not going to read that again..."

SUMMARY
 This book was written with many good intentions - mainly Mom & Dad getting some quiet time. Sadly, I think it is more likely to have Mom & Dad fall to sleep while reading it. It is very clinical, even though it does have a plot. There are images, but I don't find them appealing. The images seem dated, somewhere between cartoon-ish and realistic? It is very long for a bedtime story. It takes around 20-25 minutes to read.
 There are good things. Part of the story does a mini-body scan. A body scan is a method of calming your body one area at a time. I think it could be it's own story.
 There is also guided imagery, a method of story telling to provoke positive images. That is basically what the entire book is, but it is also highly suggestive. There are lots of references to going "down," which I assume is supposed to make the reader/listener feel themselves relaxing into their pillows. Personally, it felt very strange to repeat "go down" to my child over and over.
 One reviewer on Amazon even says that it is like hypnotizing your children. At first, I thought maybe the negative reviews were from people who may not be familiar with the techniques used to develop the story. After reading it myself, it is odd. There is strange punctuation; I assume that is because the author wants you to emphasize certain words and pause for dramatic effect.

 Overall, the concepts used to develop this book make sense. Mashing all of these techniques into one story made one, long, boring, weird book. If you want to help your child get to sleep, then I suggest finding a book that you both enjoy and make that part of the routine.

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