A.A. asks from Austin, TX on November 01, 2008
How Can I Stop Sleeping with My 4 y.o. and Go Back to My Own Bed?
This request was inspired by another mom's request on how to stop their 4 y.o. coming to their bed. My problem is that I started sleeping with him when he was 2 y.o. when my husband was deployed. My husband has been back for over a year now and we'd like to sleep in our bed again. My son is also afraid of sleeping alone and needs either mommy or daddy to sleep with him. We ask him about being a big boy and sleeping by himself for now. I list all the names of his friends that sleep by themselves as well as all the tv characters he knows that are shown sleeping by themselves. He doesn't care. When I have tried to leave, it is a large cry fest that actually triggers bed wetting the same night. He never has been able to sleep by himself. The ferber method was too much for him or us. We had gone over 3 hours with him trying to cry himself to sleep and we just gave up.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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L.A. answers from Austin on November 01, 2008
Sounds like your son spends a lot of time with you. He had you all to himself while dad was gone and he is home schooled.
You may want to consider putting him in daycare for 3 days a week. He needs to be independent and he has not had the opportunity to do this. Once he realizes he can depend on himself during the day, he will feel better about being by himself at night.
You all will need to all speak calmly together during the day about how getting ready for bed and then bed time will now be handled. Explain to your son that he needs to decide where a night light should be placed in his room. He needs to have a lovey to keep him safe (toy or blanket). Tell him you or your husband will read to him for 20 minutes and then he will need to go to sleep. Ask him if it would help if you were to tell him when you will be reading for the last 5 minutes so that he will know it is time for him to close his eyes.
We used to also have books on tape or CD that my daughter would listen to to help her fall asleep. She would listen to the same story every night. Once she ws older she liked falling to sleep with music and then finally a sound machine.
One of the things my mom used to do with our daughter when she spent the night away from home was to teach her how to relax her entire body. She did this by telling my daughter to close her eyes and relax her feet, my mother would lightly rub her feet, then relax her ankles, lightly rub ankles, calves.. you get the idea, all the way up top the top of her head. Eventually, my mom said once she had done this a few times, my daughter was able to relax herself, just by hearing the words, begin "relax your feet". She would just fall right to sleep.
This can be done. Just hang in there. Changes like this are best done on a friday, so that you all will have the weekend to get used to the major change.
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H.F. answers from San Angelo on November 02, 2008
You know your son best so you will have to decide which of the following or a combination, will work for you...
One thing that really works for some parents is the sleeping bag or pallate in their bedroom. Let your son fall asleep in your room, but carry him into his bed during the night.
My son and daughter always fall asleep when I read. I have been reading Beverly Cleary books which are over their heads by just a little bit, but put them sound to sleep because they are long enough to drone. I read a chapter at a time, sometimes more than once and they never notice...fall right to sleep and I just walk out. It takes less time than the fighting!
Another idea is to get or borrow a baby monitor and tell him it is your special walkie talkie. Tell him if he needs anything, to call you and you will come. Make sure you respond to everything the first few nights so he knows he is safe and you are there.
Another thing to try is to tell him that you understand why he doesn't want to be in his room because there might be scary things. Ask him what scary things he thinks are in the room (save that list for the label). We got "monster spray" which was a mini can of Oust air freshener from the checkout aisle in WalMart. I made a "label" with small pictures of a snake, scorpion, generic "monster" and typed "Monster spray" on it. Let your son spray under his bed and in his closet. That worked like a dream for my four year-old who slept through the night after that. Good luck.
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R.B. answers from College Station on November 02, 2008
Once I got our son (now 6) out of our bed and into his own, it was still awhile before I could get him to sleep on his own. I would have to lie down in his bed with him every night until he fell to sleep. I did two things at the same time to get him to sleep on his own.
First, I made a chart with maybe 12 squares. Each night that he fell asleep without me in his bed, he would get a sticker in the morning. Then when it was full, he got a big prize. (Back then, I'm sure he picked one of the $20 Thomas trains.) For the next chart, I added more squares (20?) and the prize wasn't quite as expensive as the first one. By the time he filled up the 2nd chart, he didn't need a third one (though he asked for one a couple of times, I conveniently kept "forgetting" to make one).
Second, I stopped lying down with him. For a few days, I would sit by the side of his bed holding his hand. Then I would stop holding his hand, then I moved to the door, then I moved just outside the door, and then finally I could just tuck him in and walk out and he would go to sleep on his own.
For what it's worth, he is still my most difficult kid to get into bed, and while my girls will both go down with only a nightlight, my son has to have TWO nightlights (a traditional nightlight and then a lamp with a low-watt colored bulb) AND some sleeptyime music. At this point, I also allow him to read books in bed as long as he stays in his room and more importantly in his bed. Good luck. I know it's frustrating when you think you're kid is never going to sleep on his own!
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S.O. answers from San Antonio on November 02, 2008
Try not sleeping in the bed, but on the floor or something, in the same room for awhile while he is in his bed. He will get used to that. Then, I would have the bed ready, but tell him he has to lay down but you're not ready yet. You will be in soon and you will check on him. Stay out longer and longer each night. He will know that you are coming in to sleep, but it won't be until later. Eventually, he will be going to sleep by himself. He will want you there when he wakes up to know that you didn't lie to him. Once you know and can show that he can sleep by himself. Then, it will be easier for you to insist on it. Then, keep a light on with the door open. Maybe some soft music. But, insist on it. You will be stronger then and more resilient knowing he can do it. Then, try the Ferber method if you have to.
B.D. answers from Longview on November 03, 2008
I am an older mom and I have gone through this same problem with my daughter. I had a simple solution and it worked like a charm. You have heard the phrase bribery will get you no where? Well in this case it got my bed back.
I watched my daugther for a few days and knew that she really wanted a SMURF BigWheel. I mean bad too. We were planning on getting her one anyway so I used that to try an experiment. I told her that if she slept in her bed all night without coming to our bed for 3 nights she could have the big wheel. I told her that I was sure she could do it and there was one other catch once she had the bike it meant that she was too big to sleep with Mom and Dad anymore and that in order to be able to ride it properly she would have to stay in her own bed. I had to get creative with this one because she was not your average bear LOL. She had to have a detail explination for the tiniest things. If I gave her a resonable answer all was good but if I was busy and said because or some simple answer I would get an barage of questions until she was satisfied. So I learned that with this child I had to be very complete in my answers.
I hope it gets better. Just know that from experience some kids wet the bed for quite a long time but will eventually outgrow it. Just clean them up and the bed with new sheets and a mattresss cover and tucked them back in. Never scolding or punishing in any way. They sleep so soundly sometimes they do not wake up in time. Just make sure they potty before bedtime and limit their fluid intake an hour before bed.
J.T. answers from Victoria on November 02, 2008
I am so sorry he gets so upset he bed wets. What about laying in his little bed reading a story. Then sit in a chair read another story or a long story. Say you are just getting comfortable. If he freaks out lay down with him again, till he falls asleep. Then the next night try again to move to the chair and read him a story. Or just try to sit the chair right next to the bed tuck him so cosy and read a stroy fromthe chair and wait for him to fall asllep. What about a glow worm. You know how hard it is to break youself of having a warm body sleeping next to you. I bet thats why when your hubby was deployed it seemed nice to have that little person with you. That was the hardest thing for me after my first marriage...learning how to sleep alone. I got a body pillow and that helped me. Perhaps stacking pillows or blankets along side him will help. Thanks for you and your husband service. Hope you get the answer your looking for. And never underestimate the power of a teddy bear!!
B.R. answers from Austin on November 02, 2008
You might be spending to much time with your son. Can he play by himself?? inter act with other kids?? be by himself at all??? Ask him why he has to have you sleep with him.
K.T. answers from Houston on November 02, 2008
We have the same issues. I sit on the floor next to his bed until he is asleep. Sometimes, if he is extremely "needy", I will let him hold my hand. At first he fussed, but I explained that I was still there, but now he's a big boy. I still do this. It works for us. He goes to sleep quickly with me in the room. I try really hard not to fall asleep (works better when I'm not exhausted). Sometimes I wake at 11 or so and go in my own bed. If I can stay awake, I leave when he goes to sleep. He started kinder this year, so he goes to sleep VERY quickly:) We tried all the tactics you've tried - including threats to cancel our vacation if he couldn't do if by himself. Nothing worked. Sitting by his bed works really well for us. It takes less time, and I have less of a chance of falling asleep myself. Oh, we do have a bedtime routine. Bath, book, prayer, and if there's a few minutes, a quiet made up story. He does end up in our bed about 4 or 5 am, but I allow it. I figure he won't be in our bed in high school, and I like waking up to his sweet sleeping face. Good luck!!