Should Parents Debrief the Day Before Bedtime? Exploring the Pros and Cons

Debriefing the Day Before Bedtime

Bedtime is an important part of a child’s day, as it’s a time when they can wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. It’s also an opportunity for parents to connect with their children and spend quality time with them. One common question parents often have is whether they should debrief the day before bedtime. In this blog, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of debriefing before bedtime to help you make an informed decision about what’s best for your family.

Let’s first define what we mean by debriefing. Debriefing is the act of discussing and reflecting on events that occurred throughout the day. This could include talking about things that went well, things that didn’t go as planned, and any emotions that were experienced.

Benefits of Debriefing Before Bedtime

There are several benefits to debriefing before bedtime. First, debriefing can help children process their experiences and emotions from the day. By talking about what happened, children can gain a better understanding of their own thoughts and feelings, and learn to express themselves more effectively. Doing so can help to build emotional intelligence and promote healthy communication skills.

Second, debriefing can also provide an opportunity for parents to connect with their children on a deeper level. By taking the time to listen and engage with their children, parents can build trust and strengthen their relationship.

Third, when children are feeling connected, they also feel a sense of security and support for children, which is important for their overall well-being. This sense of security can also help children feel more relaxed and calm, which can lead to better sleep quality.

Drawbacks of Debriefing Before Bedtime

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to debriefing before bedtime. First, if a child is feeling particularly upset or emotional and sharing upsetting events, it may not be the best time to discuss what happened. Doing so can be emotionally draining and not beneficial at that time. It’s important to consider the child’s emotional state and whether they are ready to talk about the events of the day.

Second, we often carry whatever we are feeling and thinking right before bed into our sleep with us. If we are upset, it can disrupt our sleep.

Third, debriefing before bedtime might not be effective for all children. Some children do not respond well to debriefing and may not find it helpful for processing their emotions.

Finally, it takes extra time and effort from both the parent and child to debrief the day. This might not be feasible for every family – especially before bedtime. And, worse, if debriefing becomes a long and drawn-out process, it can cut into the child’s bedtime routine and disrupt their sleep schedule. It can also turn into a frustration point for parents, which we want to avoid. Ideally, we want everyone to feel content, connected, and secure at bedtime.

To debrief or not?

Ultimately, whether or not to debrief before bedtime is a personal choice that will depend on your family’s individual needs and preferences. You may want to find another time of day to debrief – especially upsetting events and emotions to reap the benefits of promoting emotional intelligence and building stronger connections with your child on the one hand but avoiding the heaviness of those experiences that can follow us into sleep.

If you do decide to debrief before bedtime, here are some tips to make the process as effective as possible:

  • Keep the discussion brief and focused. Try to limit debriefing to 10-15 minutes, so that it doesn’t cut into bedtime too much.
  • Ask open-ended questions to encourage conversation. Instead of asking yes or no questions, try to ask questions that encourage your child to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.
  • Validate your child’s emotions. Let them know that it’s okay to feel a certain way and that you’re there to support them.
  • End on a positive note. Try to end the discussion by highlighting something positive from the day, such as a fun activity or a personal accomplishment.

Ultimately, it’s important to consider your child’s emotional state and be mindful of how much time you spend debriefing so that you don’t disrupt their sleep schedule. Additionally, know your child: Not all children find debriefing effective for processing emotions, so it’s important to gauge whether it works for your child and adjust accordingly.

You may want to experiment and see what works best for you and your children!

Want to hear more, listen in on Caroline and Andrew‘s discussion about this topic on their podcast, Parents of the Year.