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Jayne Havens is a certified sleep consultant and the founder of Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. As a leader in the industry, Jayne advocates for healthy sleep hygiene for children of all ages. Jayne launched her comprehensive sleep consultant certification course so she could train and mentor others to work in this emerging industry.

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The Connection Between Social Emotional Development and Sleep with Danielle Greene

The Connection Between Social Emotional Development and Sleep with Danielle Greene


Danielle began her career as an elementary school teacher and in recent years, has taken on the role of Social Emotional Learning Facilitator in her school for students in grades K-5. She has completed extensive training in Mindfulness Education and since adopting a mindfulness practice and culture in school, she has seen significant changes in students’ abilities to pay attention, focus and self-regulate. Social Emotional Development and Sleep
When Danielle gave birth to her second child in June 2023, she quickly realized that she needed a change in her life and wanted more flexibility in her schedule. Not wanting to give up working with children and making an impact, she enrolled in CPSM. Since then, Danielle has spent a lot of time thinking about the intersection of mindfulness and sleep training, specifically for preschool and school-aged children. She believes that helping children to cultivate even the smallest of mindfulness practices can greatly impact the confidence they feel around sleep. 


On this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast, Danielle shares:

  • What she sees to be the connection between sleep and a child’s social emotional development Social Emotional Development and Sleep
  • How she incorporates mindfulness practices into her sleep plans for toddlers and preschoolers
  • Her plans for transitioning away from full time work in school as she grows her sleep consulting business!


Links: Social Emotional Development and Sleep

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Intro: Welcome to Becoming a Sleep Consultant! I’m your host Jayne Havens, a certified sleep consultant and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management.

On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.

Danielle began her career as an elementary school teacher and in recent years, has taken on the role of Social Emotional Learning Facilitator in her school for students in grades K-5. She has completed extensive training in Mindfulness Education. And since adopting a mindfulness practice and culture in school, she has seen significant changes in student’s ability to pay attention, focus and self-regulate.

When Danielle gave birth to her second child in June of 2023, she quickly realized that she needed a change in her life and wanted more flexibility in her schedule. Not wanting to give up working with children and making an impact, she enrolled in CPSM. Since then, Danielle has spent a lot of time thinking about the intersection of mindfulness and sleep training, specifically for preschool and school-aged children. She believes that helping children to cultivate even the smallest of mindfulness practices can greatly impact the confidence they feel around sleep.

Jayne Havens: Danielle, welcome to the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. I’m so excited to have you here today.

Danielle Greene: Thank you so much for having me. I feel like we’re coming full circle after working together with my son in 2021.

Jayne Havens: I know. It’s been so long but also it feels like yesterday. You’re saved in my phone as Danielle Greene Gaby, 4.5 months old.

Danielle Greene: Yeah, when I went to text you this morning, I saw my last text to you was a thank you for the gift you sent, which is like — it’s just crazy to think about how far, I mean, you obviously and your business have come in me as a parent.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Before we get started, why don’t you share a little bit about yourself and why you decided to get certified to work as a sleep consultant?

Danielle Greene: Sure. So ever since I was little, I had always known that I wanted to work with children in some capacity. As a child, that usually means, okay, I want to be a teacher. That’s the only thing I knew about working with kids. My teachers were my role models, and I thought that I would be great as a teacher as well. And so that’s what I got my degrees in. I got a couple of teaching certificates, a couple of degrees in education.

Since then, I have pretty much exclusively, with the exception of a couple of unique experiences, worked in a school setting with primarily elementary-aged students. When I was in grad school, a cousin of mine who also works in education, she introduced me to the concept of mindfulness for educators. I was a bit skeptical at first. Because in my head, I’m like, I don’t do yoga every day. I’m not vegan. I didn’t want to label it, but that’s what I thought mindfulness was.

Then I looked into this program for educators, and I was hooked. I work with kids all the time who struggle with ADHD or have difficulties regulating their emotions. And I thought if mindfulness can be a tool that can help them, then I’m all in. And so I took several trainings, and I started implementing all of these strategies in my teaching. Ultimately, what happened was, my role in school shifted to becoming the social-emotional learning facilitator for grades K-5.

But in doing all of that, whether I was just the classroom teacher or the social-emotional learning facilitator, I very early on in my career realized that one of my favorite parts of educating was educating parents and working with parents alongside them as they navigated their children’s academic, emotional, and social journeys. And it’s not that I just loved it. I also realized that I was actually quite good at it.

And so, fast forward to 2020, I gave birth to my first child. We worked with you when we needed some sleep support. And now this past summer, I had my daughter. And once I realized how successful I was in supporting her sleep, I was like, wait a second. I could have the best of both worlds here, right? I can have a more flexible lifestyle while also continuing to support parents in a way that I love. So I thought it was just the perfect fit.

Jayne Havens: I love that story, and I love that you have found ways to support both children and parents in a way that really lights you up and that you’re passionate about. I love that. I feel that way about myself. I think when you find something that really excites you and, as you said, when you’re good at it, it makes you want to do it more. Then you just can keep going.

I know that you’re still finishing up the course. You’re just about done. But you’ve actually already worked with two families pro bono, and I think you have an additional two families lined up for the new year, which is amazing. Would you be willing to share a little bit maybe about one of the families that you’ve already worked with? What was it like working with them? Would you mind sharing a little bit about the circumstances, the difficulties that they were having, and what sort of transformation you were able to get for them?

Danielle Greene: Sure. I was connected to this family through a friend from my son’s preschool. This family, they were first-time parents. They came to me when their daughter was three and a half months old. So by the time we finished working together, she was about four months. They knew they had goals. They knew what they wanted to do. They knew where they wanted to end up. They just didn’t know how to achieve these goals.

And so when we started for them, things were kind of all over the place. They were offering, I’d say, about 45 ounces of formula a day, which you and I obviously know that that’s a lot. They couldn’t understand why their baby was just snacking and not taking full feeds. So she wasn’t hungry. You and I have both been first-time parents before, and we know what that comes with — a lot of new anxiety, a lot of new worry. For me, because I was able to recognize that, it was super important for me to come at this from a place of empathy and compassion. Because I did understand them.

I didn’t necessarily offer 45 ounces of formula, but there were other things that I did out of worry and concern. And I know what it’s like to want to do everything for your child, but we can’t do that. We, in my opinion, our job is to offer tools so that our kids and even babies in our case can reach success on their own, obviously, with support. And so I think that they were so hyper-focused on reaching their goals that they kind of forgot to let their baby take the reins a little bit. They were trying to reach success for them rather than support the baby in reaching success.

Ultimately, what it came down to was just getting this baby on a schedule. This was a baby who was a very efficient eater, clearly only wanted to eat every four hours. Nothing less than that. And so by the time they got that down, both daytime and nighttime sleep quickly followed suit. It was as simple as that. But I think it was just they wanted to be there so badly for her that they were trying to do everything for her.

Jayne Havens: That’s a really great first story. I’m wondering. Were the parents anxious about the process, or they just wanted guidance and support and to get it done?

Danielle Greene: Yeah, they didn’t seem too anxious. I’d say one of the parents had a much easier time dealing with crying. The other didn’t love it as much. He would just walk out of the house for a little bit, and that was that. The crying only lasted a few days. But really, it wasn’t anxiety. It was just wanting to support their daughter. They just didn’t know how.

Jayne Havens: Going back to your expertise which is that social-emotional piece, I’m wondering, as an educator, what do you see is the connection between sleep and a child’s social-emotional development? I guess we’re talking about toddlers and preschoolers here when we’re really connecting their emotions with their actions and the way that all of that works together.

Danielle Greene: Definitely. I think that there are a couple of connections here. During a child’s first few years of life, they develop cognitive, social, and emotional skills at a crazy rapid rate. You blink and then all of a sudden, they’re walking. They were crawling yesterday, and now they’re not. Very quickly. This is happening mentally and physically. When a child faces some type of adversity, whether it be something extreme like poverty, malnourishment or, in our case, inadequate sleep, then their ability to regulate themselves emotionally can become really impaired.

This is super problematic because emotional regulation is an extremely necessary skill for a child to obtain in order to ensure healthy growth and development, both physical and mental development. There have been many studies done that have pointed to the fact that both sleep quality and duration, usually in a 24-hour period — because at this point, older kids aren’t napping, so it’s just that nighttime sleep — they’re both associated with our mental development and emotional regulation.

If you compare a child in school who gets great sleep every night without waking up in the middle of the night, then they’re probably going to be able to regulate themselves much better than a child who’s getting inadequate sleep. Now, this sounds obvious to us. But for a lot of parents and even educators, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind, right? You’re thinking about all of these other things, not sleep. Because we’re not with our kids when we sleep, so we’re not noticing all of these things. And so I think that that’s one connection.

Another really important connection here, which I actually think can apply to babies, is that there’s a simple idea of teaching our kids to persevere and do something hard. Sleeping is a skill. And like any other skill, we need to sometimes learn it. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it can be really hard.

We’re adults. We also learn skills constantly. Sometimes we learn skills because we want to. Sometimes we do do learn and develop them because we have to. For a lot of kids, sleep is one of those skills that they learn because they have to and not because they want to. Oftentimes that comes with needing to practice over and over again. When we give our kids the message, “Hey, Joe. You can do really hard things. Don’t give up. Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a bit, and then you’re going to get it,” we’re contributing to their social-emotional development at a very early age. And it’s critical.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think that that’s a really great way of putting it. I do think that it’s so important for even little babies to learn to do hard things. I mean, moms will send me videos all the time. I work with a lot of babies who are three, four or five-months old. They’re right in that stage where, first of all, sleep is really, really important. Because their sleep cycles are maturing, and they’re starting to rouse more overnight. And if they don’t have the ability to get themselves back to sleep without so much support, they’re literally up crying every single hour.

Parents will send me videos of their babies on the floor mat learning how to roll. They’re crying, and they’re upset. They’re trying, and they’re contorting their bodies in all of these weird, funky ways. It’s so interesting to see that parents are comfortable with their babies being uncomfortable during learning how to roll, right? They’ll send me these videos like, “Look, he’s trying so hard.” Meanwhile, he’s so upset. He’s crying. He’s so frustrated, but he is trying. And parents will be comfortable with that. Then they’re uncomfortable with babies learning how to fall asleep independently. And really, they’re sort of the exact same thing, right?

Danielle Greene: It’s the exact same thing. I think, look, part of it is we want to go to sleep. So you just want your kid to go to sleep so that you can get to sleep. But really, that’s not going to set them up for success. I think it’s really worth being uncomfortable for a bit so that you can get comfortable really soon for the long term.

Jayne Havens: How do you plan to incorporate mindfulness strategies into your sleep plans for toddlers and preschoolers? Can you give us an idea of what that might look like?

Danielle Greene: Sure. I definitely plan to incorporate mindfulness strategies into some, if not all, sleep plans for older toddlers, preschool, school-aged children. By the way, it might not just be mindfulness strategies. It could be any strategy that can possibly contribute to a child’s mindset shift or their social emotional development. So it’s not just mindfulness. Mindfulness is one tool that can be used to contribute to this.

You also have to consider the child. There might be a child who really doesn’t want to go to bed. They’re protesting. They’re screaming. They’re crying. They need one more drink of water, and then I’m going to bed. Okay? That’s my son’s go-to sometimes. For them, they need a strategy that’s going to help calm their body. They can’t go from freaking out to sleep. They need something in between there to help them respond appropriately and then get into bed. But then, there are going to be some kids who might be totally calm. And for whatever reason, they just can’t fall asleep. They’re lying there. They’re tossing. They’re turning, and then they get frustrated. So the strategy you use will obviously be context dependent.

The first thing that’s going to be super important is explaining what mindfulness is at all to parents. Mindfulness is pretty much noticing what’s happening right now. You’re really developing this awareness. After that, you can explain why is it important to develop an awareness at all. Ultimately, we want a child to be able to recognize the sensation in their body what it feels like when they’re tired. Because if they’re not even able to notice what their body feels like, well, then why would you want to go to bed?

When we notice that our body feels weaker, that it wants to lay down, that our bones and our limbs are limp, well, then the logical thing to do would be to lay down and go to sleep. But if they don’t recognize that feeling, then they’re just going to want to hang out. They don’t recognize that it’s not going to be fun to wake up groggy the next morning, right?

Another thing is developing a mindfulness practice of any sort is not necessarily easy. It sounds easy, but it’s not. And so I always encourage parents to develop their own practice in some way, whether it’s just taking five deep breaths and noticing what that feels like every day, so that then when they practice with their child, they know exactly what to expect as well. And so without getting into too much detail, I’m happy — if you think we have time — to just share one or two strategies that I might offer.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, sure. Share them.

Danielle Greene: Sure. For the kid who, like I said, is really calm and is having a hard time just falling asleep and they’re getting frustrated, there are a couple of things that I might offer. This is not necessarily for a toddler but for an older preschool or elementary-aged student. There’s something I call ‘permission affirmations,’ and a lot of this is just a mindset shift. You might not fall asleep right away. But if we shift our mindset, you’ll probably fall asleep faster.

Something that I like to say is: I give myself permission to sleep. Just repeat that over and over and over again because it will become a mantra. You will start to believe it eventually, and it will also tire you out. Giving yourself permission to sleep kind of lets go of all that frustration and brings in more positive energy.

The other thing that I’ll say is, tell a kid repeat this to yourself. Rest is okay. Sleep will follow. Rest is okay. Sleep will follow. Because the truth is, we need to rest anyway. The rest always comes before the sleep. We’re resting, and then you fall asleep. So you’re giving them an out of saying, “You don’t have to sleep now. It’s okay to rest,” without allowing them to get out of their bed also. So it works in a lot of ways. Rest is okay. Sleep will follow.

Then an actual mindfulness strategy that I think could work really well with these kids is, I’ll use you as an example, Jayne. How old is your youngest?

Jayne Havens: Seven.

Danielle Greene: Seven. Okay. Say, you and your seven-year-old are lying side by side. You could lie side by side together in the bed. You could lie on the floor, as long as you’re not touching and cuddling. I just recommend being on some sort of flat surface, either on your back or on your belly. And so what you’re going to do is a body scan.

How this is going to work, you’re going to lie there preferably with your eyes closed. Sometimes that makes some kids uncomfortable. Totally cool if they just want to stare into space. You’re going to lead this as a parent. And so you’re going to choose. You’re going to either start at your feet, or you’re going to start at your head.

You’re going to be lying there. You’re going to say, “I want you to notice what your feet feel like on your bed, on your mattress, on your floor.” Maybe they feel warm. Maybe they feel cozy. Maybe your toes are wiggling. Maybe they’re not. You’re going to be taking deep breaths throughout this. Then you’re going to move up your body to your legs and notice what that feels like, in your fingers and your arms, until you get to your head.

By the time you’re done, you should hopefully be feeling the state of Zen and calm, which will hopefully allow kids to drift into a really peaceful sleep. That will also help them to understand what it feels like to be tired. They’re not going to be going from TV to bed. They’re going to be going from TV to wind down time to bed.

Jayne Havens: I love that. I feel relaxed just listening to you.

Danielle Greene: Yeah, I encourage you to try it. It works great in the classroom, and it definitely works in the bedroom too.

Jayne Havens: I think this is the type of thing that really takes — as you said, this is not you just do it one time and it’s over. This is a practice. This is a ritual. This is something that has to become a regular part of your evening for kids, for parents who are struggling with it. This isn’t just something you can try one day, and it’s done. This is every day. This needs practice.

Danielle Greene: Right, and you do a little bit at a time, or as a little bit, or as much of it as you want. And I have to say, something that I’ve noticed as a teacher is — you know. You have young kids — kids are very scheduled today. Sometimes over scheduled. For some kids, that works fine. They can come home from whatever after school activity they do, go to dinner and go to bed. That’s great. For some kids, that doesn’t work.

So for those families that are super calendar-oriented and have something planned for every hour of the day, it’s going to be just as important to quite literally schedule wind down time for those kids. That’s when you could do a body scan or any of the strategies that I might offer.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I might try that tonight.

Danielle Greene: Yeah, do it.

Jayne Havens: My kids might think that that would be really fun.

Talk to me about your plans for marketing yourself. When you decide to put yourself out there as a sleep consultant — which I think is already sort of happening, but it’s going to happen officially really soon — how do you plan to incorporate these strategies into how you talk about your business? I would imagine it’s going to be to your advantage to build this into a copy on your website if you have one, or in your social media content. Have you thought about that? I want families to know that this is how you’re going to help them, because it’s a really interesting and unique perspective.

Danielle Greene: Yes, I’ve definitely started to think about this a bit. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to use social media in any of this just because it’s not really who I am. But a website, for sure. I think that it’s going to be really important for me to get the message across that I use a whole child approach. This is not just about sleep here. We are working towards enhancing your child’s regulatory skills and emotional development. And through working on your sleep struggles, well, we’re also going to be working on that.

The mindfulness is very specific to older toddlers and preschool and elementary-aged children. Obviously, or not obviously, I also plan to work with babies, so I can’t just market myself as like this mindful sleep coach. Because it’s not just who I am. And so, on my website, I’ll definitely have a section for those older kids and say, this is what you can expect to get out of this. It’s not just going to be sleep coaching, but we’re also really going to work towards their mental and emotional development as well. And like I said, that’s still building.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I’m sure there are also — a lot of these strategies that you’re implementing with these older preschool-aged children, elementary-aged children, parents benefit from this, too, right?

Danielle Greene: Totally.

Jayne Havens: That’s why I was asking in the beginning about that family with the four-month-old if the parents were anxious. Because I would imagine that if parents are really struggling with sleep training and their baby crying in ways that they’re not used to hearing, sometimes incorporating some of these mindfulness strategies and centering yourself, breathing, I think that that’s all really helpful for parents in stressful times too.

Danielle Greene: 100%. It’s so funny you say that because last night, as I was just going through some of my notes and looking at some of my own mindfulness work, my husband said to me. He’s like, you know what? It’d actually be really cool to offer parents, especially of newborns, some of these strategies and techniques. Because obviously, their newborns aren’t going to be taking deep breaths in and out. But their parents are definitely going to need that and benefit from it. So even offering this as a tool for parents can be really, really helpful.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, absolutely. I know that your plan is to finish out the school year and then maybe make a decision about either scaling back to part time work or maybe leaving your job to pursue sleep consulting full time. I’m wondering if that prospect excites you to think about? Does it make you nervous? Where’s your head in all of this?

Danielle Greene: Look, I mean, it definitely excites me on so many levels. I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I just never exactly knew what I was going to do. And I’m super happy that I found something that I love, that I’m passionate about.

Of course, there will be things I miss like my colleagues and seeing them every day, and the friendships that I’ve made and not being able to solidify those constantly on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, I’m looking for some more flexibility in my life. I know that this is going to be one of the things that can help me get there.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, absolutely. I know that — at least for the people who I speak with who are interested in becoming sleep consultants — a lot of them are teachers, therapists. They work in school settings or in office settings. The idea of launching their own business, starting something new, working on their own, all can feel a little bit overwhelming and daunting.

Are you excited about the business building piece? Are you excited to grow your own business? What do you think that will look like for you as a mom of two little ones?

Danielle Greene: Sure. Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But there’s also something really energizing and exciting and motivating about being scared to do something that you know you’re good at or that you want to do and you’re meant to do, right? So it’s a very different type of scared than you being scared of the dark. This is something that I want to be scared about because it’s just going to push me to be better. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to work for myself. So it’s worth being scared for a little bit.

We talked about being uncomfortable until we can get comfortable. I think it’s totally worth it. And as a mom of littles, I just want to be there for everything. I can still picture my parent’s faces on the sidelines in every audience and that front row for all of my recitals — voice recitals, school performances. I want my kids to be able to picture my face there when they’re my age. I don’t want to miss out on anything. And so while I love this work and I’m so happy for myself, I’m equally excited to be doing this for my kids.

Jayne Havens: Yeah, I totally get that. I think you’re going to build whatever business works for you and your family. I’m really excited to see you make that happen for yourself. And I just can’t believe we’ve now known each other for what, like, three years through—

Danielle Greene: I know.

Jayne Havens: —in helping you with your son’s sleep, all the way through now you’re starting your own sleep consulting business. It really has come full circle, and I can’t wait to see you get started. Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me. Maybe we’ll check in in six months or a year and see how it’s going.

Danielle Greene: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support.

If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode.

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