Overview interview with Signe Johanne Rhode
In this interview we discuss the book that Signe recently has launched: “why do I have to sleep?” Signe is the author of best selling children’s books, she is a training expert in mindfulness and personal development for children, an instructor in pilates and mindfulness and she has a Master Degree from the Business School in Copenhagen in Business communications.
Could you tell me a bit more about yourself and why did you start writing?
Yes, I would love to. I am a mother of 2 children, in my mid-thirties and the book came very natural. I did not have the idea to become an author. I just had children and I had a lot of struggles with that, as you do as a mother and a father.
So it completely came from my own challenges of being a mother and then one of the first challenges was helping him fall asleep. The first book really from something that I needed myself, I wanted to help him search for the calm within himself and get through to him. He could really struggle to fall asleep.
Do you have a son or daughter? Or both?
I have two boys, one is 1,5 and the other one is six years old. It is mainly for the older sun who has sleeping trouble and the book was mainly focused on the older one, because the other one is so young.
Sometimes I would want to make it all easier instead of screaming or getting angry. I wanted to create the wanting to fall asleep from inside of him, and not me telling him what to do.
What age should the children be when they can start reading your book to them?
I wrote it for like 3-6 years old. However, I have seen some older kids who bought the book and read it to themselves in order to find the calm within themselves.
Is it just for mothers or is it for both parents?
Definitely, for both parents it is just a normal children’s book that you can read to your child before they go to bed. Many times this is the time you read a book for your child anyway.
It naturally helps them to get in a state of relaxation and openness towards wanting to fall asleep. The idea is to combine a normal bed story with a tool to help solve a problem, calm the child down and help them fall asleep.
Are you trying to reach the children by dropping your adult levels to theirs?
Yes, how I designed this series of books is to motivate them to go within themselves and ask questions like: “why do we do what we do and why do we go to sleep at night?”
These questions can provide them an internal motivation and providing them tools to be able to do these things. In the story there are some questions in the story, and these bring an understanding inside them. Also it asks the child what they think about all these matters, it gives them a voice.
It is a really mature way to let them decide about themselves
Yes, and often they teach us adults a lot, because they are so pure. A lot of times, it helps adults to go back to their own pure state, because many times they have forgotten.
Do you read the books to your own son?
Definately, I made it for him. Every time I had a struggle, I felt like I have to write a book because I needed a physical tool, like images and take the focus off him and put it all together in a book.
Then it is not about yourself but you can talk through something like a book to him. It gives him something concrete in the physical, through another channel than just my mouth speaking and that helps a lot.
Does he know that you wrote the book?
Yes, he does, but when he reads the book he is really into the story. He is very proud of me and he really wants to be in the books.
You worked together with a brain researcher and a child psychologist, tell us more!
Yes, that was mainly because I am a mother with the usual struggles and the need to do things myself. Besides that, I enjoy writing a lot. But I decided to get some expert knowledge on the subject and some proven methods. If they would approve my methods, the things I write have a lasting effect on the children.
What do you think about the western world and raising children?
I think it is difficult to be honest. Only six years ago I had my first Iphone and it changed my life a lot. It made my life easier, but it is so much more difficult to focus on my children and not be disturbed all the time. I feel a little stressed from it and I am sure that my children feel the same.
I feel the opposite from the phones and electricity is mindfulness and meditation and we need it more and more. We need more calm time, and it would be great if they could go to sleep at school, unfortunately that is not the case.
What are the greatest obstacles when getting your child to sleep?
I think the most difficult is getting through to him, and I am mostly talking about my oldest child, because he was the one who most struggled sleeping. I wanted to open him up about why we need sleep. I only get his attention when it is about warriors and action, not when it is about mindfulness. So, I was looking for a tool that would capture his interest.
The book starts therefore with something exciting and not directly to, how do I get to sleep. That has definitely been the main challenge.
Could you name the titles of the other children’s books?
The first book that I published is “Why do I have to sleep?”
Then came: “Why do I have to brush my teeth?”, “Why do I have to eat veggies?”
and “Why do I have to say never mind?” That is more about personal development. The title came from me seeing my son struggling with different emotions as feeling left out, or being upset and angry. As an adult we have tools to overcome these emotions, but as a child it is more difficult to understand and solve these problems. I thought, why wait till my child is older in teaching him, I could start with it right now.
The books made him understand how to communicate to his own feelings. Imagine if they had these subjects at school that would help a lot.
Where can people buy your book “why do I have to sleep?”
People have become curious by now and want to know where to buy your book. You can buy the book on Lift up Your Child. You can also sign up to my newsletter and then you can get a free meditation for your child. It is a sleep inducing meditation, which in the book is written, but the recording you get through signing up the newsletter.
Do you have 1 or 2 tips concerning mindfulness for struggling parents?
I would say, what really mainly works for me is to both put my son in a state where he is open. This can be done by asking him questions or having a dialogue with your child before going to sleep.
The answers will come from him instead of from me. Take the focus off your child, and their struggles and everything they are unable to do what you tell them to do, over to something else. Whatever can calm them down and catch their attention.
The Mindful Magazine: Thank you so much for coming Signe, you are such an inspiration for the world. Sharing your knowledge with everyone about children and thank you for being so honest about your own struggles and how you overcame them by writing your books and using your knowledge of mindfulness.