Changing a Child's Bad Sleeping Habits
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2001
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!
There should be a three pronged approach to this problem.
- 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:
- Tell the child that at 8 PM (or whenever the supposed bedtime is) you will
read him a story and then he must go to sleep.
- He is to stay in his bed. He will try the excuses I need a drink and I
need to go to the bathroom and he can use the two to get up all night. A
normal child at this age may need to use the bathroom once or twice at most.
- The main thing is to get him into bed and pay as little attention to the
excuses either positively or negatively. Occasionally, so the child knows he
is not alone, tell him, "Goodnight." Make sure you throw your
voice down the hall.
- It is usually that the child will cry or ban on the door. This is normal
even though it will drive most parents crazy and to tears also. Hang tough!
- Don't let the child out or speak to him. Either will let him know
that his actions have gotten him closer to what he wants. Purchase the
child-proof door knob plastic covers and place them on his side of the
door. Do not let the child know you are there. If he knows you are
there the bad behavior will execrate in hopes you will give in.
Remember, any attentions whether good or bad reinforces the bad behavior.
Tantrums are only effective if there is an audience to watch.
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
- Pay more attention to the child throughout the day. If good attention is
paid the child throughout the day he will know that you love him at least as
much as the baby and it will help offset the hours of mother's complete
attention when he should have been asleep.
- The child could not physically stay up all night unless he is getting
supplementary sleep during the day.
- Do not let him sleep in the morning. Get him up with you!
- No matter what, keep him up, except for an hour nap around noon. Don't let
him oversleep. Daily set a timer you can hear, to get him up. Make sure he
doesn't get more sleep or the problem will reinvent itself.
- He may be ugly for the first day because a nap will probably not
sufficient for his needs. Tough it out! He has got to be tired when bedtime
- Usually, the crankiness will only be for one day, because he should get a
good night's sleep that night.
- Make plans to stay with him throughout the day so you can keep him awake
and of course to spend positive good time with him. Plan fun things to do
and that will wear him out!
I have another articles on dealing with children's bad
behavior. You can find them at:
Click here: http://www.annettenay.com
Click on: Healthy Families
If I can be of further service please write.
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Annette Nay Homepage
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