One of the core principles of NLP is modeling. Now I don’t mean modeling fashion, I’m talking about modeling in its truest meaning which is to copy something, to mimic.

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

We’ve all experienced those times when exasperated or just incredibly tired and fraught we pass baby to someone else and their mood changes. From being fractious they suddenly seem more relaxed. This is because they have picked up on our mood.

We can use this to our advantage but rarely do. Here’s how to do it. Put your baby where you want her to sleep but somewhere where she can see you when you lie down. A good place is by the sofa or by your bed in her cot or basket. Turn down the lighting and put some quiet music on. I like to use classical music but choose something she won’t associate with singing along to because you want the music to be in the background.

Now spend some time facing your baby and get her attention. Start by copying what she does, mirror her. Avoid mirroring any crying but you can copy any hand movements and head movements. This is called matching and mirroring. At the moment she is taking the lead, you are copying her. After a while she will be intrigued by this and engage with the activity. Make your movements quite clear and definite so she can see you are copying what she does.

Now you need to take the lead because it is you who should be in control, not her. Start to take the lead and make funny noises or clap your hands gently, tap your nose and get her watching everything you do. You need to get her to mirror your behaviour now.

It may take some time especially if she is crying when you start but as long as you know she is fed and changed, she should be ready for a sleep.

Once she is mirroring and matching your behaviour you can start the sleepy routine. Yawn very obviously and say things like ‘Mummy’s tired’, ‘Mummy’s going to sleep now’ and lie down so she can see you. Now it’s important that you don’t get up because she needs to be lying down as well. If you sit up again, she won’t settle because she’s now expecting you to do something else that she can copy so turn your phone off and really focus on going to sleep (even if you’re actually dressed to go out and the babysitter is due any minute!).

Once you are laid down, breathe heavily and slowly as if you are sleeping. She will hear this and copy you. Keep very still and keep up the sleeping breathing. I promise you this works but the only problem is that you are very likely to fall asleep as well. This may be fine because you need all the sleep you can get when you have a baby or toddler but if you’re about to go out you may have to ask your partner to come and gently wake you!

This is just one of many uses for matching and mirroring and we’ll talk about others in my website blog.

By Judy Bartkowiak

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