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Questions - Toddlers & Preschoolers
||More Advice about Bedtime Fears|
For the past 10 days, my almost 22 m/o is afraid to fall asleep in his crib in his room by himself. He used to be a good sleeper (slept from 7pm-7am, fell asleep on his own, etc.) Now, to get him to go to sleep, we have to sit by his crib until he is in a deep sleep and then sneak out. Otherwise, he'll stand and cry out for us. We tried sleep training again (Ferber approach), but that didn't work. In the middle of the night, he will stand and cry for hours until we go in, so we end up bringing him into our bed. We've tried additional lighting in his room, keeping the door open so he can hear us, etc. Nothing works. I can't think of anything that has changed that would lead to this, except for the fact that I am 7 weeks pregnant. Could these be connected? Has anyone else experienced this? How did you get through this? What technique did you follow to get your child back on his/her original sleep routine? Desparate for more sleep
Something that may cheer you up at least is this book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xtcB457jqQ
Some useful suggestions on different techniques on helping small children fall back to sleep on their own: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53833&page=2 ybrown
Our 2.5 yo daughter is suddenly petrified of the dark and of having her door closed. We bought her a nightlight, but she still insists on having the door open. When it's open, she wakes up much earlier than usual and shows signs of being tired during the day. If we close it after she falls asleep, she wakes up shrieking with fear. We're empathetic, but tiptoeing around the house is driving us nuts, as is having a tired child. Is this a phase she's likely to grow out of? Any advice on how to manage this now? Thanks very much! Supportive and Sleepy
My 2 1/2 year old daughter, about a month ago, starting feeling more afraid at bedtime. I know it is normal around this age to start getting night frights, so I indulged a bit and slept in her room on a couch a couple of times, then started to sit right next to the door of her room until she falls asleep. Now, we're stuck in this habit and it's making me nuts. She doesn't fall asleep until after 9pm, and while she's in the crib she's constantly asking me questions, asking me to put her blanket back on, for another book, all the rest. I do my best to ignore but it's very hard. And, I have no evenings to myself anymore, as I'm stuck by her room. I just bring a book or my laptop to try to get something done while I'm there. How do I extricate myself from this pattern, while also being sensitive to her night fears? I've tried leaving in short increments (saying I have to get something, or I have to go to the bathroom, but she immediately screams bloody murder.) Help! feeling trapped at bedtime
First, your nighttime routine. It sounds like it changes sometimes (another story, for example). Without being rigid, if you make the routine very consistent it will help settle her. Do you ease into it with calm time before bed? She may need a gradual transition from active play to going to bed. We used to go around the house dimming the lights, shutting things down for the night. Sometimes we read our story by candlelight (I'd read the suggestion and then one night our power was out so we tried it). That really helps slow my kids down. Make sure you have her water, all the things she needs, ahead of time. Once the routine is done, and you're either lying with her or sitting on the couch with your nightlight, don't let yourself be distracted. Be as boring as possible - answer her very briefly but kindly. We use a ''special'' CD once lights are out - quiet music, the same every night. We chose ''Matriarch'' by Joanne Shenendoah, soothing Indian songs. The kids are so conditioned by now that they are out very quickly.
Your daughter is still very young. Can you lay with her until she falls asleep? If she can snuggle up to you to fall asleep she may go to sleep faster. Does she still nap during the day? If so, maybe that is contributing to her being wakeful.
Otherwise, it sounds like you are doing the right thing - being a presence for her instead of leaving her alone. If you can change your expectations it would help also - she is still young and needs your presence to be able to settle into sleep. So, bring your book and nightlight or something similar, and plan to sit there until she falls asleep. If it takes her 30 minutes to fall asleep, it doesn't mean you don't have evenings to yourself (unless you go to bed right after her?). With four children, my bedtime routine takes at least an hour. View it as helping her end her day on a peaceful note, while enjoying some relaxing reading for yourself. Your role is a very powerful one as to whether she finishes her day happy or stressed. shannon
I need help with everyone's favorite topic: sleep! I don't see anything similar from previous postings...
Our current bedtime issue for our daughter, 2y 9mo, is that she repeatedly says ''I don't want to be in here [her bedroom] by myself'' when we leave her room at night. It's a logical complaint, and my husband recalls hating being left alone at night. (With many siblings, it wasn't an issue for me). She wants one of us to sleep with her, which is not acceptable to us, but is sometimes the only way we can get her to nod off. The dog would love to sleep with her, but she says she wants a ''real person.''
As a baby and young toddler, she was always able to put herself to sleep. but last month when visiting family, she and I shared a bed - out of necessity - for 9 straight nights. She grew accustomed to that, although there have been several nights since when she's done just fine. It's only been this past week that her sad but logical request leaves us completely stumped for a response. We have a nice bedtime routine, and we've tried removing any potentially-scary elements from that (certain videos, books) and those nights I mentioned where she did fine? Well, we had a reward system set up and she earned a pretty cool prize from it. I feel I can only bribe her so much.
I hope someone out there can help. Our oldest daughter (2 yrs, 8 months) is having serious fears when we put her to bed. Up until about two weeks ago, she was going to sleep pretty well on her own, after our bedtime routine of tooth-brushing, stories, singing, and then a lullaby CD. We've had a nightlight in her room for some time, but starting a couple weeks ago, she started getting more scared of the dark. We solved that problem, but now she's afraid of noises (airplanes overhead, cars outside, house creaking, etc etc). We're trying very hard to be empathetic, but it's hard. We've given her animals to snuggle with, which helps a little, but not all the time. The end result is that we leave her room after our bed-time rituals between 8:30 and 8:45, but she can be up for another hour or more calling for us.
We go in and try to calm her, but as soon as we leave, she starts getting upset again. We were co-sleeping with her until about 6 months ago, and I'm sure we could get her to sleep if one of us stayed with her, but we're not keen on going down that path again.
We also have a 3 month old, so that might have something to do with this, though the night-time fears only came recently.
Any suggestions would be great! Empathetic but tired....
Last month my husband left to tour with Ozzfest for 2 months. In preparation for the prolonged parental absence, one of the things we did was to have Daddy make a recording of himself talking and reading stories. Well, the tape has become the charm we needed to help our son go to sleep. Sometimes he does need to have me rewind the one-sided cassette once, but he always falls asleep to it eventually. I place ! the tape recorder on the top of the dresser where he can see it and hold his hand for a few minutes. I tell him that I will see him in the morning and Daddy's voice will stay with him until he falls asleep. It works wonderfully. Maybe the sound of you and your partner's voice will block out other sounds and help your child feel like you are still with her. Hope this helps. Heidi
Ok, so I'm getting the idea that this is typical for this age, but what do we do? None of the previous posts seem to hit our situation on the nose. My daughter was, up until about a few weeks ago, sleeping through the night most nights, with the occasional wake-up due to a poop or for a random reason. But every night now for the past week and most nights last week, she is up 3 to 5 times in the night, saying she's had a bad dream or that there's a ''scary thing'' that won't let her sleep. And now also getting her to fall asleep at bedtime has become nearly impossible unless she's so worn out from the day that she just crashes during songs. (Our bedtime routine is stories, then songs, then one more song in her bed with soft pets on her head.) She asks us to stay in her room repeatedly, her eyes look so scared and it seems that whatever rituals we go through, she is still not completely satisfied that she's safe. (Together we ask all the bugs on the mobile by her bed to watch over her and protect her, and we tell all bad dreams and scary things to go away, once in each corner of the room.) She is in a toddler bed and so will often just come into our room and try to get in bed with us. At first it was cozy and sweet but we don't want to make a habit of having her in our bed with us, so we take her back to her bed, and then have to go through the whole ritual of making her room ''safe'' and then basically staying with her until she falls asleep again.
Just last night she woke up at 2 am crying, so my husband went in, was in there for about 40 minutes and came back to bed, then 20 minutes later she was up again, a wreck. So then it was my turn. And so it goes through the night! At 5 am we just let her come sleep with us, so that we could all get some sleep. Needless to say, we are SO TIRED. But there's got to be another way!! Can anyone give me some magical advice on how to deal with this? Do we just see it through, and like any other phase it will just resolve eventually? Is there a homeopathic remedy? I was scared of the dark as a child and my parents never really validated that fear. I don't want to do the same thing to our daughter. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. one tired mama
Bedtime is a different issue, but you could try the same approach. We did something different because our daughters share a room. The one who was being disruptive got moved out of her room into the family room, where I guarded the door -- literally sat outside the door and read a book -- to make sure she stayed in bed until she fell asleep. She was allowed one dolly and one potty visit, and after that I told her to pee in her pullup, I did not care. At times I had to hold the door closed, but I did not go in. After 5 nights of staying in bed all night and no bedtime shenanigans, she earned her way back to her room.
Not a fun process but we got back on track. Hope this works for you! Mom who took back the night
My three and a half year old daughter is having a difficult time with sleep. She FREAKS out every single night, many times a night, that she is scared to be alone. She has a night light, sleeps with her closet light on and the door of her room wide open. She has a sound machine and her ''night night music'' that play all night. She sleeps with all her ''friends'' every night (Sesame Street friends, teletubbies, care bears, etc), has her beloved blankie, her cup of water, photos of mommy and daddy in her bed. What else can I do to stop all this drama around sleep? She is now refusing to nap. Sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she gets up and plays with her dollhouse for hours.... and then is a miserable wreck the next day. I also have a 19 month old daughter and a 4 month old son who also need me at times during the night. The baby is still nursing and fortunately my middle child is so easy. What am I supposed to do about my non-sleeper who screams and cries half the night? I have tried EVERYTHINg. She always has a good, soothing night time routine, lots of hugs and kisses and reassurance. However, I am getting very fed up and very impatient. Should I just ignore her? What should I do? Any advice welcome. Stephanie
It was really a great help to me along with a yahoo group named hscbook. I had all sorts of issues with my son that were greatly helped by the book and also emails from other parents dealing with the same things. They typical parenting book stuff didn't work at all for my son--backfired really--but the ideas in this book were immensely helpful.
Good luck! Laurel
Normally, I always try to give my daughter the rational explanation for things rather than some made up story to pacify her, but I remember being very young and having my parents give the old 'there's no such thing as monsters line' and never really feeling comforted. At this age, there's a pretty fine line between what's real and what's imagined and I don't think the grown up explanation that there's nothing to be afraid of suffices for the kid who wakes up terrified in the middle of the night. So we went with the ''magic feather.'' So I'd suggest asking your daughter to decide on a talisman of some kind and undertaking it with due seriousness, even if it sounds totally ridiculous. Other similar solutions I've heard of: ''monster repellent''--a mister bottle full of water spritzed in your child's room right before lights out or a lotion; or a pre-bed time parent and child check under beds, in closets and in other places where monsters reside just to make sure none are there. k
My nearly four year old daughter suddenly is too scared at bedtime to go to bed in her room. She asks to sleep in my bed or for me to sleep in hers. This is difficult I can't linger indefinately in her room at bedtime as I am also putting down a baby.
I need help understanding her fears in order to come up with a plan to help her deal with them. Up until now I have hestitated to either let her sleep in my bed or for me to stay with her. For one thing, she has a sister who shares her room who will then also want either to sleep in my bed or for me to alternate sleeping with each of them.
I don't know how to help the frightened girl as I'm not entirely clear what is making her afraid. When I ask, she gives me a differnt reason every time: ''I''m afraid of my clock'' (I took it off the wall), ''I'm afriad of that picture'' (which is face down now). ''I'm afraid of the entire room.'' (hence the need to sleep in my room)
We have a night light, we sing ''monster go away'' songs (which used to work well) and we make the house magic so that no mean things can come in. Now, the only remedy is to sleep in my bed. While I've sometimes wondered if this request (and the claim of fright) was a ploy to simply sleep in my room, her reaction to eventually being left in her room after about 20 (failed) changes to it was that she was genuinely hysterical the other night. I'd like to find a way to help her over this.
I am willing to let her sleep in my bed but if I do, for how long and what do I say to her sister who will want to also (who is three) (will this then create a similar hysterical reaction in the sister?) I am also willing to come back into the room once the baby is down for extra snuggles but not to stay all night (which is what she wants and on hard nights she can't go to sleep). I not only do household chores after the kids go to bed, but it is my only quiet time and I' hoping to not have to give it up. Dad works long hours and can't help much of the week. Any insight is helpful mom of scared child
All the things you mention that you've tried deal with the child's environment. That's all fine but your goal is to empower the child within that safe environment. Talk with your daughter some time during the day when her anxiety is at its lowest, perhaps, ''You've been having trouble falling asleep on your own lately. You could do that when you were three-and-a-half, and I know you will do it again soon. So what can we do to help you do it again?'' If her only suggestion is to sleep in your bed offer her others, but it may be that when she is problem-solving during the day time she'll come up with great ideas.
Here are some things that have helped my son: His anxiety in falling asleep usually comes during times when he has nightmares. In order to feel safer in the face of nightmares, we turn one of his stuffed animals into a dream animal who will go with him into sleep and help him. If he has a bad dream, I try to work with him during the dream--he usually wakes up scared--reminding him that he is strong and safe, and that his dream animal is there to help. Then I ask him ways he might change the fear to something else: what is the monster's favorite ice cream? If we shine a light in the cave, does it sparkle with gems? He can rarely answer, but the suggestions that he is strong and safe and has power to change the dream really help.
All this did not help much last night, so I tried something different. I askedhim how he would help one of his stuffed animals who was having trouble sleeping? Would he sing to it, tell it a story, stroke its back? Maybe he could try those things for his animal. The idea was to give him the power to settle the animal, which of course was the part of him having anxiety. It still took another fifteen minutes, but he did not need my help after that. I hope this helps Carolyn
For the past few months, my 4 1/2 year old son has been afraid to sleep at night, but recently the situation has worsened. Not only is he afraid at night but during the day as well. He has stated to me that ''monsters come into his room and step on him while he is asleep.'' At first, I told him that monsters do not exist but he refused to believe that. Since he did not buy the ''monsters do not exist'' line, I told him that I had ''thrown the monsters'' out of the house and that they could no longer come back in. He somewhat bought into it for one night, but the next day he said he did not believe my story. He said ''the monsters have keys to the house.'' I've also tried ''spraying the monsters'' away for good. Nothing seems to be working. He wants me to sleep with him in his room. Obviously I cannot do that every night. Every night I stay with him in his room until he falls asleep, but at around 2:00/3:00 in the morning, he wakes up afraid and in need of telling me the type of ''bad'' dreams his had. I then take him back into his room and end up sleeping in his room until morning. I am thinking of purchasing an air mattress to keep in my room, so that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he can just come into my room and sleep on the air mattress. As I mentioned earlier, he is also afraid during the day. He follows me everywhere around the house. If I am upstairs and need to go downstairs to the kitchen, he follows. He does not want to be or feel alone for one second, and is constantly calling out for me to make sure I am near by. He is my little shadow. I don't know what else to do and am very concern about what my son is going through. I am in need of new advice for I have ran out of ideas to remedy this situation. Any advice that anyone could provide me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, R
You can't really fix what you cannot see. He gets that you don't see them and feels alone and terrified. It is possible he is seeing shadows and thinking they're monsters. I did this as a kid.
At any rate, you need to empower him to fight them off himself. After teaching him how, let him be in complete control of this, because he'll have no power if you fix it for him. Teach him to not give into the fear (because that is a losing proposition). Teach him a little secret that monsters really are very scared themselves, but they don't want kids to know that. Teach him to growl and roar angrily, and fiercely yell at the monsters to get out of his house and that they are not welcome here. If sounds travel well in your house, teach him how we can do these things in our heads, and not outloud. Tell him monsters get very scared when they get yelled at and they run away.
Teach him to be mad at them, not scared of them. You can guess which posturing would hold more power - the anger.
Depending on your success, you can talk about ''fake power''. Say that the monsters are like big balloons, but really they are full of hot air and not really that big. Tell him to poke his finger toward the monster and ''pop'' the balloon, letting all the air out, making the monster shrink small, while taking his own power back to have his bedroom for himself only.
Basically, he needs to be taught that he doesn't have to be vulnerable, and how to stand up to these monsters himself. Ali
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