3.5 years old, will not sleep alone

Kerry - posted on 05/21/2016 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My 3.5 year old will not sleep by himself. After some hard work, we've been able to get him to fall asleep in his own bed, around 8p, but he wakes up 2-3 hours later (then 2 hrs after, then 1 hr after etc etc) 'needing' my husband or I to sit with him until he falls asleep. Then he freaks when he wakes up and we are not there - comes downstairs, disrupting our time. Tonight he continued to carry on after my husband spent (another) 45 mins at his first waking and he still wouldn't go to sleep, so we put the gate up in his doorway. He carried on for hours, completely destroying his room, waking his 1y/o brother (keeping him awake for about 90 mins) and finally climbing out and downstairs. Presently, my husband is laying down with him in his bed (I refuse to 'reward' him with our bed - which is what he wants) so we can get the baby to sleep! ... Sadly, I really enjoy having him come into our bed and wouldn't mind it if he joined us in the middle of the night but he doesn't. All he does is ruin the few hours I the evening that my husband and I have together or time to get things done around the house. We have tried toys in his bed, lights on in case of fears, rewards ($1 for every night falling asleep in his bed) & punishment systems (taking away toys), even educational games on the I pad while he's in bed - NOTHING works! I am so tired of it and find myself getting so angry at him. I hate feeling this way :( .. Any words of advice?! Please???

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Sarah - posted on 05/25/2016

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My son would run out of the room and shout "I'm here!" It was so hard not to laugh.

Kerry - posted on 05/24/2016

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It's a great idea actually! We have yet to find a gate he can't open, or climb over! It's pretty defeating when you finally set your mind to it that once and for all you're going to let him cry / scream and here he comes galavanting down the stairs with a smirk! Ugh!

Sarah - posted on 05/24/2016

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It is actually a positive sign that his sense of independence and wanting autonomy are developing! Frustrating, but necessary. He actually might not even fall asleep in the bed, he may wind up sitting by the door and fall asleep there. My first was very much like your son, up and out of the room as soon he he could climb out of the crib. We put him in a toddler bed because he could climb out and we needed the crib for baby no. 2. What worked for us, and it would not be the choice for everyone, was to put a doorknob cover on the knob on the inside of the room. We could get in, he could not get out. This came after several failed attempts with a baby gate and I wasn't as experienced with kids at that time. An adult can easily open the door with the cover, but a toddler cannot. So there were a few nights of him rattling the door, and me telling him it was night time. We'd wait til he was quiet and then go in and he would be in bed, on the floor by the bed, or even curled up with his lovey by the door. Looking back, would I do it that way again? Maybe, it certainly fixed the problem in just a few days, but I didn't have to do it with any of the others so maybe I could have done without.

Kerry - posted on 05/23/2016

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Great advice Sarah, I am absolutely going to find a few days when I am off from work so I can do this, not sure my husband can handle it :/ it is definitely something we all need to endure for improvement. Sadly, I'm sure I won't be leaving his room / the upstairs hallway because he probably won't even lay his head on the pillow for the first few hours. He really is THIS stubborn! It's pretty impressive at such a young age :( ugh!

Dove - posted on 05/23/2016

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Sarah's advice is excellent.

Personally speaking though... I never had this problem w/ my girls (twins) cuz they had each other and I've always co-slept w/ my son... so I wish you luck in enduring!

Sarah - posted on 05/23/2016

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When he learns that getting up gets him neither positive or negative attention, he will stay put. After bedtime routine and a tucking in is complete, if he gets up, you take him back to bed silently and calmly and put him back in the bed and tell him one time, "it is time for sleep" get up and leave. No petting him, rubbing his back, no more stories, no drink; those pleas should all fall on deaf ears. If he gets up again, you silently take him back and put him in bed and say nothing. No emotion, no anger, no begging, nothing. You may need to repeat this a number of time in the first few nights, but he will learn "getting up gets me nothing" and he will stay in bed. If, after five, ten, twenty, fifty times out of bed; you cave and let him sleep with you, what has he just been taught? To stick to it until you give up. So if you try this method, you have got to be ready to see it thru. If it means one or two sleep deprived nights, isn't it worth it in the long run?
While I found the link provided to be helpful I disagree with this advice:
"If your child is getting up several times during the night, take steps to encourage him to return to his bed and stay there. Instead of scolding, ask questions like, "What do you need in order to go to sleep?" This will give your child a sense of empowerment"
If you open the door to his requests, then he is back in charge and the list could be endless: I'll stay in bed after a drink, oh and now a kiss, oh wait i need a blanket, oh I will stay for one more story, wait now i have to pee, i am thirsty again, one more kiss?" I do agree that you can discuss this way before bedtime, and mesh his request into the bedtime routine. Then at tuck-in you remind him, you had your story, kisses, blanket, snuggles, a drink and you went potty; so it is time for bed. Kiss and leave.

Kerry - posted on 05/23/2016

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Thank you so much for the information! I am definitely exhausted, but mostly just tired of the constant nighttime bickering & stress! We actually just talked about a CD player yesterday, great to see it recommended - can't hurt right. Hoping to resolve this soon, for all of our sanity! Much appreciated!

Strong - posted on 05/22/2016

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I’m sorry to know that sleep time is such a battle at your home. I know how exhausted you must be because your situation reminds me of our little girl. I came across this information (http://bit.ly/27PRQ07) and I think you might find it helpful, too. *Love. Prayers. Hugs.*

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