22 answers

Bedtime Wars

i need advice on getting my 4 year old to sleep in her own bed, she will sleep on the couche but not in her bed. the doctor said to sit with her till she falls asleep, but that is time consuming for me and she will just lay there with her eyes open because she knows i will leave when she falls asleep. please help i am at my wits end here

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi T.,
It's hard and I know some people won't like this but I had to make my son stay in his bed and just let him cry it out. It took one night and he stayed in his bed. It was terrible for me to listen to him cry but nothing else would work. You have to be tough and not give in. He has never had trouble since and he's 14 now. At the time I was a single mom too. It's very hard but trust me you don't want this to go on any longer especially when she gets ready to go to school.I'm married with three kids 14,9,3.

2 moms found this helpful

I understand the sitting with her on the sofa but I asked this question 2 years ago and I felt the best help was put her in the bed and walk away. Then when she gets up do it again, and again and again and again and again. Eventually she will just stop. Also talk to her about her bed. Take the sheets off and have her help you wash them and put them back on the bed so that she feels apart of the situation. A few nights of putting her back in the bed without talking to her will create that habit. She will just give up and sleep in her own bed. Good Luck

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Nearly any technique you try is going to be time consuming so while it will be completely inconvenient for you, you need to stick with a technique and give it a fair shot if you want it to work. In the long run, having your daughter fall asleep in her own bed in a timely manner is not a 'mean thing', it is a good healthy habit.

Start on a Friday night (so you have the weekend to recover from loss of sleep if need be) and tell your daughter that there is going to be a change in the way bedtime works. Inform her that the new routine is that she will put on her pajamas, brush her teeth, get a story read to her, then it is lights out and she is to stay in bed. After the routine, leave the room. If she gets out of bed, take her by the hand and lead her back into bed - no discussion, no eye contact, nothing. Make these trips as boring as possible. I can guarantee the first, second, third nights will probably be hell. She may get up over 100 times, scream, cry, throw a tantrum, etc. but you have to be consistent and let her know that when it is time for bed, she needs to get in her bed and fall asleep. If you follow through, she will learn that you are not coming back and she will figure out a way to fall asleep on her own. If you do not follow through and you give in, she learns that all she needs to do to get her way is protest, scream, or tantrum and eventually you'll come running.

You could also choose to couple this with a reward system. Make a chart and for every night she is able to go to her bed and fall asleep, she gets a sticker. After she accumulates 5 stickers, she can have a reward - maybe keep a clear jar of treats on top of the refrigerator or take her out for a special lunch.

You have to understand that you have some hard work in front of you. Be patient and consistent with whatever technique you choose, because most things we will do as a parent will be time consuming but well worth it!

2 moms found this helpful

I understand the sitting with her on the sofa but I asked this question 2 years ago and I felt the best help was put her in the bed and walk away. Then when she gets up do it again, and again and again and again and again. Eventually she will just stop. Also talk to her about her bed. Take the sheets off and have her help you wash them and put them back on the bed so that she feels apart of the situation. A few nights of putting her back in the bed without talking to her will create that habit. She will just give up and sleep in her own bed. Good Luck

2 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,
It's hard and I know some people won't like this but I had to make my son stay in his bed and just let him cry it out. It took one night and he stayed in his bed. It was terrible for me to listen to him cry but nothing else would work. You have to be tough and not give in. He has never had trouble since and he's 14 now. At the time I was a single mom too. It's very hard but trust me you don't want this to go on any longer especially when she gets ready to go to school.I'm married with three kids 14,9,3.

2 moms found this helpful

You didn't even mention whether you talked to her about WHY she won't sleep in her own bed. Afraid of the dark? Closed doors? "Monsters under the bed?" etc. Hard to address it if you don't know WHY!

Make SURE you spend time reading at least one book - or make up your own stories taking turns adding to the story - and then say some prayers. THAT CALMS CHILDREN and takes the focus of the issues for both child & parent. I've done it MANY times while babysitting or being a nanny. NEVER has it failed.

1 mom found this helpful

There's no way out but the hard way on this one. You'll need to tell her,"From now on we sleep in our own beds." Then when she gets out, you put her back. A hundred times, if that's what it takes. Camp out beside her door with a book if you have to. Just put her back, calmly and firmly. I did this with a toddler recently who decided that climbing out of the crib was fun. I put her back five times the first night, and she yelled for over an hour. The second night she got out once. I put her back and she rolled over and fell asleep. End of fight. Your little one will get it. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think it is really an issue of couch vs bed. I think it is more "being around mommy" vs "being alone".

Although I am not a single mom, I occasionally play the role when my husband is out of town on business. I too work full time and really respect and admire how single moms go through this day after day - it's tough and exhausting.

Although you are exhausted and may sometimes take the path of least resistance (I know I have), remember that that path always leads to times tougher than what you were trying to resist in the first place. By conquering the hurdle head-on, you will make your job easier down the line.

Here's my suggestion. Maybe try to do a bedtime regimen with her that revolves around her, but you are still taking care of everyday mundane tasks. Maybe give a horsey-back ride to the bathroom, followed by one-on-one bath time where you help her color pictures with bath crayons, & then help her brush teeth. Then, in her bedroom, have her pick out her PJ's (whatever she wants to wear - even if it is a princess dress-up gown! Honestly, does it really matter for bedtime?), say prayers together, read a book of her choice, and then maybe even talk about the next day's events at pre-school/daycare. Show her lots of love, kiss her goodnight, explain that it is time to go to bed and leave the room.

Every time she tries to do something other than stay in her bed or go to the bathroom, reiterate that it is bedtime and it is time to go to sleep. As long as she is staying in her bed, you have made progress. Eventually, she'll fall asleep quicker as well. She should begin to look forward to that time of night.

Best of luck with everything!

1 mom found this helpful

I would sit outside her door instead. Get a good book or a stack of bills or whatever to keep you occupied and every time she gets up, don't say anything to her, just place her back in her bed and shut the door. I really don't think it will take longer than a couple nights for her to get the point. As long as you show no reaction, she isn't getting attention by getting out of bed. She will get tired of it and give up.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T. -
I had little trouble in this area... a bit more with my now 5-yr-old daughter. I think you should strongly consider advice from Deb K, Melinda, and Mi R. We didn't have a big problem with our daughter not staying in bed but the few times she did come out after bedtime, this is what we did (taking her back to her bed). When my son was around 18 mo., he suddenly began waking up calling us, and crying when we left after we discovered everything was fine. I took him to the dr. to make sure there was nothing physically wrong (ear infection, etc.) and after I got the "all clear" we let him "cry it out" - it literally took one night. We looked in on him to make sure he wasn't hurt or stuck somehow and then went back to our bed. It worked. We've always had the bedtime routine since they were both infants: p.j.s, teeth brushing, bedtime book & prayers and then a lullaby c.d. when we leave the room. At this age (5 and 8 yrs) they sometimes choose to have no music playing. It does help to have a calming transition to bed, especially if it's been a busy/exciting day. You may have to endure some crying and tantrums but IT'S WORTH IT. Not saying it's easy (wasn't for me) but again, IT'S WORTH IT.

1 mom found this helpful

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