Managing Your Child’s Sleep Does Not End At Infancy

August 31st, 2011  |  Published in Parenting News  |  1 Comment

Recently a mother was telling me about her six year old daughter who was sleeping in their bed due to nightmares. Since she had recently started Kindergarten, the parents decided for the first two weeks of shcool she could crawl into their bed at night if she had a nightmare. During that time she came to their bed every night around 1:00am. Two weeks of waking in the middle of the night and walking to her parents bedroom to continue sleep took a tole on this six year old. She was clearly suffering from gradual sleep deprivation.

At this point both parents decided she needed to sleep all night in her room since sleeping the entire night in the parents bed was not viable option for this family. When the girl protested that she would be afraid the parents were armed with a list of solutions (let her baby sister sleep with her, have a light on, play the radio, read until she was tired, look at pictures of the beach to get her thinking sweet thoughts, etc., etc.). Their daughter had a reason why each solution was impossible and proclaimed she would never sleep at night again (as well as many other dire and dramatic declarations). The parents geared up for “re sleep training” their daughter. The first night was long and filled with multiple tantrums that lasted over an hour and woke the siblings. The second night the parents needed to walk her back to her room once and lay down with her for about 20 minutes. The third night she slept all night and was quite proud of herself!

It is important to know that these parents were continually complimented on their daughters sleep habits since she was a baby. They first helped teach her to sleep on her own at 3 months and again when she moved to a big kid bed. They had weathered nightmare issues on and off since their daughter was three by provding a flashlight by her bed or turning on lights, but this was the first time the solution involved the parents. Interestingly, the parents enjoyed having her sleep with them, but recognized the tole it was taking on her. Consequently, they knew they needed to reassert boundaries that would acheive healthy sleep habits and, thus, did so.

I tell this story because I feel it is so important to understand that parenting healthy sleep habits continues until your children leave the nest. Managing healthy sleep habits looks different from one family to another as a result of varying values and “sleep personalities” in each family. Learning how to go to sleep without a parents aid is the first step. Once that is learned the skill is not lost, like riding a bike, but managing healthy sleep habits continues on and off until our children are grown.

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. cell phone signal booster for home says:

    June 27th, 2011 at 12:47 am (#)

    I like the theme on the blog. Is it downloadable anywhere?

Leave a Response