Brigitte Langevin is a sleep specialist. She is
a speaker and author whose goal is to
improve the quality of sleep and understand dreams. She is the author
of several books on the subject. Helping my child sleep provides a
great deal of information for parents. She is a dynamic
person who is much sought-after for her humour and ability to make
theoretical and scientific concepts accessible to all. Nights are more
satisfying so performances during the day are improved thanks to her
Three year old falls asleep in parents' bed
My 3 year old daughter is a very bright and active child. Bedtime is a problem. When she was 18 months old, I began putting her to sleep in my bed and moving her to her own bed once she was asleep. At the time, I felt that since I was not with her during the day, this gave us a chance to be close before she went to sleep.
Lately, getting her to sleep is very difficult. I put her in my bed around 7:45 PM. She gets her toys, plays, goes back and forth between the bed and I, and comes up with excuses such as needing to use the bathroom or another glass of water. She does everything she can to delay bedtime. She only falls asleep around 10:00 PM, sometimes even 11:00 PM. This has become a battle. She is not getting enough sleep. She must get up at 6:30 AM.
Now that she is 3 years old, I feel it is time for her to fall asleep on her own, in her own bed. I am just not sure how to go about it. How can I get her to sleep at a reasonable time?
It is perfectly understandable that your daughter is becoming more and more creative at delaying bedtime to spend more time with you. She seems to have understood very young, at 18 months, that you use bedtime to spend time with her. However, adopting this behaviour somehow always results in children wanting more. Children who admit they are tired and ask to go to bed are rare! One thing leads to another and bedtime becomes a battle. The price to pay is sleep debt in children who must be awake early in the morning. Evenings are exasperating for parents who need time for themselves.
Children need to spend time with their parents, it's a fact. However this time should be separate from the bedtime ritual and sleep. A bedtime ritual (period of approximately 20 minutes prior to going to bed) should be an enjoyable moment spent with a child which allows her to find the security and affection she needs to prepare to go to sleep alone in her bed.
It is possible to get your 3 year old daughter to bed at a reasonable time, around 7:30 PM. It is also possible for her to remain in her bed and fall asleep. However, you will have to be firm and remove all toys to avoid stimulation. This will help her brain prepare for sleep. Also, you must impose a consequence if she gets up. I suggest closing her door, ensuring she is unable to open it. Keeping the door open becomes a privilege and she must remain in her bed to deserve it. Obviously, it is highly possible that she will cry to express her disagreement and continue to benefit from your presence. You must resist the desire to open the door or to bring her back to your bed. She can only learn to fall asleep on her own if she is given the chance.
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