Changing a Child's Bad Sleeping Habits

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 2001

Dear Annette,

My 2 1/2 year old son won't go to bed early (before midnight and later) tried quiet time...he hangs out until midnight...bath early, nap early, actually what happens is my whole night from dinner on is spent trying to hang out in bed with him getting him to fall asleep.

I am a single mom with a 3 month old baby with Downs syndrome and who needs heart surgery... so this is impossible to do every night! Then he wakes up about 3 time a night crying and tossing and trying to nurse...

Can you help!

Waiting for independent toddler to surface!


Dear Waiting,

There should be a three pronged approach to this problem.

  1. The toddler is getting a lot of your attention with his all-nighters. Children love attention and will do almost anything to get it.
I have been searching for better options to get the child to stay in bed rather than just ignoring him. With a child this young, there are really is none. The only other viable answer is to continue to put the child into bed, but this is giving him mom's soul attention which is what he wants. If the child is old enough to responds to either positive or negative reinforcement there are many options. To understand how these work see:

Helping our Children Overcome Bad Behaviors

I'm guessing this unwanted behavior probably started when the second child appeared. The first child hates to be dethroned in his/her mother's soul attention.

I have another articles on dealing with children's bad behavior. You can find them at:

Click here:

Click on: Healthy Families

If I can be of further service please write.

Best wishes,

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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