Why won't my 3 year old go to sleep at night?

Holly - posted on 02/28/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I have a routine that's the same every night, he goes pee, brushes his teeth, gives kisses and turns radio on and goes to bed. Then it starts...he cries and screams, gets out of bed, screams for a sweater then slipper then he wants another kiss and it goes on until almost 10:00 at night and it all started at 8:00. Any ideas on why my 3 year old won't go to sleep?

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Ashlee - posted on 09/27/2011

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my 3 year old son refuses to go to sleep at night. i give him his medicine a half hour before bed and let him watch tv till 9. he screams at the top of his lungs, kicks, and punches. its to the point where i have to hold him till he eventually cries himself to sleep, any advise?

Kalhari - posted on 05/04/2012

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My son is almost 3 now. still he is not in a proper bed time routine. Every day he scream when we are taking him to bed. only dark helps to take him to bed and keep him there. if he saw a light around he wants to get down. even I explain hi you have to sleep when sun is down he just ignore it. Few months back he enjoys bed time stories and songs. now he knows if he gets in to the bed and reading a book take him to sleep. He try to avoid sleeping much as he can. even we kept silent with out talking, he keeps signing and making funny noises to keep him awake. I take him to be every day 8 to 8.30 but he takes minimum one and half hours to fell on a sleep. If I took him early 8 he gets up in the middle and fresh as ever to spend another couple of hours up. its getting really hard for me now..

Holly - posted on 03/06/2011

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thank you to all the wonderful moms for all your support and advise.I am happy to report that my little man is staying in bed and sleeping through the night and only getting up to pee through the night and goes right back to bed. things are going great. be a mom is very trying but yet so rewarding...thanks again!!!

Leah - posted on 04/29/2012

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Just had one of the most helacious bedtimes in a long time. I have a 30 month old and a 6 month old. From the first day I was left alone with both kids, my older refused to nap. I started driving him in the car until he fell asleep, then transferred him to the bed for his nap. My husband usually does bedtime with our older while I care for the younger. We cosleep, and don't do the cry it out business. Well DH was gone so I had no car and older had no nap. Tried putting him to bed in the normal way, but younger woke up, so I needed to leave the room and it turned into 2 hours of up and down. I got really angry, then felt really guilty for getting so angry, he screamed for almost 45 minutes straight before finally passing out. This has me terrified because our situation is about to change and my husband will be gone a lot. Bedtime has always been a frustrating battle of wills. How do I get to the point where I can tuck him in, say goodnight and leave the room to care for my other child??

Sally - posted on 02/27/2012

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may be he cant just drop off by himself, My Grandaughter is just over 2 and a half and she has same prob, she dont cry and scream, but is up and down, has music on and even put tv in there to keep her in bed, she goes to bed at 7pm, can be 10pm before she goes to sleep. she sleeps all night once she is alseep, we stopped her daytime nap at 16 months.might be worth asking dr for something to help him sleep, thats our nxt step,

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21 Comments

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Carol - posted on 05/02/2012

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I think afternoon naps are important for kids that age. Eliminate outside disturbances totally.

Sally - posted on 02/27/2012

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My Grandaughter is just over 2 and a half, she just cant drop off to sleep at night, takes her 3 hrs, she sleeps all night when she does, not had day time nap since she was 16 months old.

Tanya-Lynn - posted on 03/02/2011

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if he is going thru a fit like that stop everything and say take a deep breathe in and then slowly let it out repeat up to as many times as you want to calm him down tell him the reasons he has to go to bed if he has lost a priveledge for a certain reason and why etc the breathing works for my 4 year old its wonderful.....

Jenny - posted on 03/02/2011

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oh, and I forgot to mention two things. My son still takes a nap, but he has always needed lots of sleep. He sleeps for up to three hours, but still goes to sleep between eight and eight thirty. We try to give him some exercise late in the day even if he's had lots up to then. Sometimes we have pillow fights (use old pillows. :) ). Also, when he was first potty training at night, we let him get up to pee by himself (after he was capable of pulling things back up by himself) and that was all it took. If he didn't get us up there to help him, he suddenly didn't have to go. I don't know if that will work for your child or not, but it helped our son.

Jenny - posted on 03/02/2011

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My son had the same problem, he is now 3 1/2. We finally got him to stop by giving him one call. He had one chance to ask for something, then if he called again, we would tell him he had used his call. We used a sticker chart as well. He gets a sticker on the chart if he doesn't call at all. that has worked well recently and about four nights a week he gets a sticker for not calling (we award it in the morning). the night light thing is good. We actually had to get three very bright nightlights to begin with because he was very very scared of the dark. We have weaned him down and there are now just two dim ones. He sleeps with an animal or two, which he gets to choose each day. But if he plays with them he loses them. Try to remember that young kids do have fears, so if your child is saying they are afraid of something, try to be understanding and figure out a way to make it a non-issue, but other than that, try to not let them call more than the set number of times. Hope that helps your 3 year old who won't sleep :) (as a disclaimer, this is what worked for my son, and it may or may not work for anyone else's child...just like it may or may not work for my second son.)

Marlyse - posted on 03/02/2011

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Hi Holly,

I have the same problem! My 3 year old won't go to sleep and I've come to terms now that the day nappying of two hours at school has to stop! She only goes and sleeps at 10pm everynight... it's crazy. If she does not have her nap by 8pm she's fast asleep. She is so winded up still at 9, running around looking for juice. I know the feeling but we need to stop the napping.

CJ - posted on 03/01/2011

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Odd question, but did any of this advice work? I am having a similar issue with my daughter who is 2. We have been potty training her for a little over a month now, and she'l start screaming that she needs to pee almost immediately after I've left the room, even though she pees right before she gets into bed. It used to be that she'd scream that she needed water, until we got her a sippy cup to put by her bed. Then it was that she needed her diaper changed, now it's that she needs to pee...or even more recently that there's something scary. We also have music on for her, though it's usually a cd I made with lullaby-type songs. She's always listened to music when she sleeps though, and seems to take longer to get to sleep if I forget to turn it on. Lately if we try ignoring her she'll either get up and bang on her door screaming at us (we have a handle cover on her knob since we sleep in the basement and don't want her leaving her room if she wakes during the night.) And often takes her diaper off(she still wears them at night), and if she really does need to pee, ends up peeing all over the bed. So if anybody's advice really does help, please post your results, I'd love to know anything you try that works for you.

Sarah - posted on 02/28/2011

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When your 3 year old won't go to sleep and he cries and screams for the different things do you give in to his requests? One rule that has helped in my house is that once we say prayers (which are done once they are tucked into bed) then there are no other requests for the night. For you it could be once the radio is turned one then that means there are no more requests. He will still cry and ask....what I would do is to ignore the crying and screaming. If he gets out of bed and is asking for different things, don't say anything just take him back to his room and put him back into bed without saying a word. What he is wanting is your attention because if you come in or talk to him then that means he does not have to go to bed. Once he realizes that you are not going to come in or talk to him he will learn that it does not work.

Erin - posted on 02/28/2011

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the routine sounds good has he got a night light he might not like the dark my son would stay in his bed until we got him a dinosaour night light he is now happy to just lay and play with it has he got any teddies or any quite bed time toy that is ok to play/cuddle with the only other thing i can think of is keep putting him back in bed he will soon learn that bed time is sleep time and not play time. I've started bathing my kids before dinner and only leting them look at their books or sit and watch a movie to help them settle down so that after dinner all they have to do is wash the hands and face clean teeth and brush hair yes not always they go straight to bed but its been the easiest thing for me

Jackie - posted on 02/28/2011

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And after i wrote my initial response I was thinking I should have added what Judy said about the radio, the white noise machines can work wonders if the goal of the radio is trying ot get the child to 'tune out'

Jackie - posted on 02/28/2011

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Ok well I doubt you need to stop a nap that is only 2 hours...he may actually still need it. This does sound crazy, but he might be too tired at 8pm though....if they get overtired they can get hyper...you could always play around with moving bedtime up by 20-30 minutes and see if that helps.

Judy - posted on 02/28/2011

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Jackie's advice is good.... If your 3 year olds still need rest, even if they don't sleep. But if he is sleeping more than 2 hours, I would wake him. As for the radio, I understand what Jackie is saying, it does however help some children to relax, if the music is soothing and low volume. Another sound soother is one of those sound machines that makes a rain or white noise sound. The rest of what you describe when your 3 year old won't go to sleep is typical behavior to test your boundaries. If he is up till 10:00 when he went to bed at 8:00 then I am thinking those stall tactics are working for him and as long as he is sucessful he will contiue to engage in them. Jackie is correct, you need to have anything he might use as a stall tactic addressed in advance, then when 8:00 rolls around, we're done. The answer is no more water, no more potty, you need to stay in bed. My mom went so far as to put a hook lock outside my door, and lock me into my room as a child. It seems a bit extreem, but she unlocked it when she went to bed and knew I was asleep for the night. It worked, I gave up getting out of my room and pestering her for ....whatever....

Jackie - posted on 02/28/2011

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How long is his afternoon nap and at what time does it start/finish? What time does he get up int he am?

Holly - posted on 02/28/2011

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do you think that I should omit afternoon naps as well as being persistent with routine?

Jackie - posted on 02/28/2011

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The routine is def. essential and sounds very familiar to ours...except the radio part. Why are you turning a radio on for a 3 year old? It definitely may be distracting him, especially now that communication is really increasing and he's starting to understand more. Not to mention music makes most kids energized and want to dance.



All of the other things that are happening when your 3 year old won't go to sleep sound like typical stall tactics. My daughter does variations of that, or attempts too, soemtimes, and we just stick to our routine. (She will do it on the way to brushing teeth usually). We just calmly say no and reinforce what step we are on. We NEVER give in to her and if we have to repeat the process 100 times with the same result, we do. Just don't give any kind of reward or sense of success to the unecesssary requests. Leave an extra blanket at the foot of the bed and lay it out before brushing teeth time that there is no more food or drink until morning and you will say goodnight once so he knows what to expect, then STICK TO IT. If you are consistent 10pm should turn into 9:30, then 9 etc etc.

Jenny - posted on 03/02/2011

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My son had the same problem, he is now 3 1/2. We finally got him to stop by giving him one call. He had one chance to ask for something, then if he called again, we would tell him he had used his call. We used a sticker chart as well. He gets a sticker on the chart if he doesn't call at all. that has worked well recently and about four nights a week he gets a sticker for not calling (we award it in the morning). the night light thing is good. We actually had to get three very bright nightlights to begin with because he was very very scared of the dark. We have weaned him down and there are now just two dim ones. He sleeps with an animal or two, which he gets to choose each day. But if he plays with them he loses them. Try to remember that young kids do have fears, so if your child is saying they are afraid of something, try to be understanding and figure out a way to make it a non-issue, but other than that, try to not let them call more than the set number of times. Hope that helps your 3 year old who won't sleep :) (as a disclaimer, this is what worked for my son, and it may or may not work for anyone else's child...just like it may or may not work for my second son.)

Marlyse - posted on 03/02/2011

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Hi Holly,

I have the same problem! My 3 year old won't go to sleep and I've come to terms now that the day nappying of two hours at school has to stop! She only goes and sleeps at 10pm everynight... it's crazy. If she does not have her nap by 8pm she's fast asleep. She is so winded up still at 9, running around looking for juice. I know the feeling but we need to stop the napping.

Sarah - posted on 02/28/2011

2,602

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1081

When your 3 year old won't go to sleep and he cries and screams for the different things do you give in to his requests? One rule that has helped in my house is that once we say prayers (which are done once they are tucked into bed) then there are no other requests for the night. For you it could be once the radio is turned one then that means there are no more requests. He will still cry and ask....what I would do is to ignore the crying and screaming. If he gets out of bed and is asking for different things, don't say anything just take him back to his room and put him back into bed without saying a word. What he is wanting is your attention because if you come in or talk to him then that means he does not have to go to bed. Once he realizes that you are not going to come in or talk to him he will learn that it does not work.

Judy - posted on 02/28/2011

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Jackie's advice is good.... If your 3 year olds still need rest, even if they don't sleep. But if he is sleeping more than 2 hours, I would wake him. As for the radio, I understand what Jackie is saying, it does however help some children to relax, if the music is soothing and low volume. Another sound soother is one of those sound machines that makes a rain or white noise sound. The rest of what you describe when your 3 year old won't go to sleep is typical behavior to test your boundaries. If he is up till 10:00 when he went to bed at 8:00 then I am thinking those stall tactics are working for him and as long as he is sucessful he will contiue to engage in them. Jackie is correct, you need to have anything he might use as a stall tactic addressed in advance, then when 8:00 rolls around, we're done. The answer is no more water, no more potty, you need to stay in bed. My mom went so far as to put a hook lock outside my door, and lock me into my room as a child. It seems a bit extreem, but she unlocked it when she went to bed and knew I was asleep for the night. It worked, I gave up getting out of my room and pestering her for ....whatever....

Jackie - posted on 02/28/2011

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The routine is def. essential and sounds very familiar to ours...except the radio part. Why are you turning a radio on for a 3 year old? It definitely may be distracting him, especially now that communication is really increasing and he's starting to understand more. Not to mention music makes most kids energized and want to dance.



All of the other things that are happening when your 3 year old won't go to sleep sound like typical stall tactics. My daughter does variations of that, or attempts too, soemtimes, and we just stick to our routine. (She will do it on the way to brushing teeth usually). We just calmly say no and reinforce what step we are on. We NEVER give in to her and if we have to repeat the process 100 times with the same result, we do. Just don't give any kind of reward or sense of success to the unecesssary requests. Leave an extra blanket at the foot of the bed and lay it out before brushing teeth time that there is no more food or drink until morning and you will say goodnight once so he knows what to expect, then STICK TO IT. If you are consistent 10pm should turn into 9:30, then 9 etc etc.

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