I’ve been doing a daily debrief with daughter each evening since before I can remember. It’s never to late to start doing one with your child! A daily debrief is essentially a time to process the day’s events and prepare for bed and the next day. I love this time of day and I’ve found it be beneficial to both of us!
When to do a daily debrief?
This is a lovely part of a bedtime routine. We do our debrief during daughter’s songs. The lights are out and she is cuddling in one of our arms. I rub her back and start chatting softly. You could easily do this with older kids while they’re in bed. With your teens this might be a routine you start in the evenings in the kitchen while you’re having a bedtime cup of tea.
Start the debrief with what happened that day.
I like to go in chronological order, but that isn’t necessary. I don’t go through every single detail; I pick out highlights or things that she loves. Often I’ll start with breakfast, and then move on from there. She likes to interject comments along the way. It’s fun to see what things she notices (it’s usually little things I don’t even remember!). I’ll be saying “we went to the playground this afternoon and you loved climbing the stairs” and she’ll say “pinecone!” because we found a pinecone on the playground that day.
Talk about the positives and negatives.
This is a great opportunity to help reframe anything that was hard about the day. I’ll say “Remember when you fell and scraped your knee? You were crying so much and Mama gave you cuddles. Then we go it all cleaned up and now it’s feeling better!” This type of language helps them think about the event in a more positive way. You can also use the sandwich technique where you put a hard thing between two positives. “You got a surprise chocolate cake in your lunch today at school! And then I know you had that hard math test you were worrying about. I know you did your best. I’m glad when you got home this afternoon you had time to go for a bike ride with me. That was so fun!”
Segue into bedtime.
This is especially helpful for young kids that are having a hard time at night. Maybe talk about all their lovies or animals that will be cuddling with them while they sleep. Maybe mention what you will be doing: “When you go to bed I’m going to go read my book and then get ready to go to my bed!”. Some kids benefit from talking about why we sleep: getting rest, allowing bodies to grow, helping the brain process the day, etc. Some kids need lots of reminders that they are safe and loved. This part of the daily debrief can even be helpful for older kids and especially teens: it’s so important that they are all getting enough sleep! Encourage your teens to get to bed at a good hour!
Prepare for the next day.
I keep this part of the daily debrief pretty short. I pick out anything that might be a highlight, both positive or negative, in order to prepare beforehand. Often I’ll mention what we might have for breakfast the next day or ask her what she’d like to have. Especially for young kids this is something concrete to think about. And then I’ll end with “I’m looking forward to such a good day with you tomorrow!”
I think this practice is so beneficial for our kids. It gives them an opportunity to process their day: all the experiences and emotions. It models emotional processing and positive thinking, which is helpful for kids of all ages. A daily debrief helps them prepare for what is coming the next day. And for kids who are struggling with going to bed, this is a helpful way to support their transition to bed.
Do you already do a daily debrief with your kiddos? Is this something you might incorporate into your routine? I’d love to know!