One of the basic principles of NLP is modeling. Now I am not referring to fashion modeling, I am talking about modeling in its truest sense, which is to copy something, to imitate.

Babies watch what you do from the moment they are born and want to copy you. This is how they learn and develop the social skills they will need in life. They are so in tune with you that they will pick up on your mood and copy your gestures and facial expressions.

We’ve all experienced those moments when, exasperated or just incredibly tired and tense, we hand the baby over to someone else and their mood changes. From being rebellious, they suddenly seem more relaxed. This is because they have noticed our state of mind.

We can use this to our advantage, but we rarely do. Here’s how to do it. Put your baby where you want him to sleep, but somewhere he can see you when you go to bed. A good place is next to the sofa or next to your bed in your crib or basket. Dim the lighting and put on some quiet music. I like to use classical music, but I choose something that she doesn’t associate with singing because you want the music to be in the background.

Now spend some time looking at your baby and getting his attention. Start by copying what she does, repeat her. Avoid imitating any crying, but you can copy any hand and head movements. This is called matching and duplication. The moment she takes the initiative, you are copying her. After a while, she will be intrigued by this and join in the activity. Make your movements quite clear and defined so that he can see that you are copying what he does.

Now you must take the initiative because it is you who should be in control, not her. Start taking the initiative and make funny noises or clap your hands gently, touch your nose and make him look at everything you do. You need to make her mirror your behavior now.

It may take some time, especially if he’s crying when you start, but as long as you know he’s fed and changed, he should be ready for bed.

Once she is mirroring and matching your behavior, you can begin the sleep routine. Yawn very obviously and say things like ‘mom is tired’, ‘mom is going to sleep now’ and lie down so I can see you. Now it is important that you do not get up because she also needs to be lying down. If you sit back down, she won’t settle because now she expects you to do something else that she can copy, so turn off your phone and focus on going to bed (even if you’re dressed to go out and the babysitter is due any minute!).

Once you are lying down, breathe heavily and slowly as if you were sleeping. She will listen to this and copy you. Be very still and hold your sleep breath. I promise you this works, but the only problem is that you will most likely fall asleep too. This may be fine because you need to get as much sleep as you can when you have a baby or toddler, but if you’re about to go out, you may need to ask your partner to come over and gently wake you up!

This is just one of many uses for match and mirror and we’ll talk about others on my website blog.

By Judy Bartkowiak

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