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To let my 4 year old cry herself to sleep.

(25 Posts)
TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 19:54:18

It just doesn't sit right with me letting her cry but she won't go to sleep unless I'm in the room and usually rubbing her back.

DP thinks that we need to take a stand and do controlled crying, popping in to the room every five mins.

It's been going on since January and I'm finding it increasingly exhausting feeling like I have to do bedtime every night including weekends as she doesn't want to be without me. I went with the flow at first thinking that she was unsettled at nursery or something and just needed extra reassurance.

She's usually fine in the day and she sees me all the time as I'm a SAHM. At night time she gets very distressed and says she promises to be good (I've explained that I'm not doing it because she's been naughty and Mummy will always love her even if she has done something naughty), she threatens all sorts like "I won't talk to you again if you don't come back in my room now" or that she misses me, that she'll be sad, that she's scared. I've explained that all big girls go to sleep by themselves and that's the reason why I am doing this. I've explained that I'll just be in the next room and that I'm not going out anywhere and that I love her very much.

We have a bedtime routine, story, songs, a few minutes back rub, then sleep. She has a night light, we have the door open and she is in the same room as her brother.

My instinct feels like a should stay but am I being to pfb? It's been going on so long and I just don't know what to do.

MsPickle Wed 03-Jul-13 19:56:08

No help but watching with interest as I've a 3.8 who won't go to sleep without one of us there

JudyGellar Wed 03-Jul-13 19:56:27

What happened in January to make her start?

I'd do it gradually. Stop the back rub, but stay in the room. Then story, songs, kiss, leave.

Mouthfulofquiz Wed 03-Jul-13 19:57:59

You sound like a really lovely kind mummy :-) not helpful to your post but I just wanted to say it x

mrsjay Wed 03-Jul-13 19:58:35

. Stop the back rub, but stay in the room. Then story, songs, kiss, leave.
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^ ^ that I used to have to sit with dd but i started sitting on the floor I used to rub her forehead was there for hours almost rubbed it away blush OP start the routine of story kiss bed (sit on the floor) then slowly retreat

mrsjay Wed 03-Jul-13 19:59:23

it took me about 2 weeks mind it doesnt happen over night but stay tough strong

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:00:08

I don't really think anything specific happened in January. I just put it down to her first term at nursery school being a bit unsettling for her (started last September).

ChangeyMcChangeName Wed 03-Jul-13 20:01:27

Token I am the same! My DD is 5 and EVERY night I have to lie down with her. She falls asleep within 5 minutes though...but it's such a pain because it makes me sleepy!

TigOldBitties Wed 03-Jul-13 20:02:58

I have let my DC occasionally cry themselves to sleep, but it would concern me that this just started in January, do you know why it suddenly started.

I think I would do the slow retreat. So start with no more back rubs, then gradually move away until you're sitting in the doorway then outside the room.

I'd explain to her what was happening, remind her once but after that not engage with her.

YoniBottsBumgina Wed 03-Jul-13 20:03:31

I would wean her off more slowly. Maybe stop the back rubbing, then once she's secure with that start sitting further away etc.

Or start off with small disappearances - say "Mummy just needs to go for a wee, I'll be right back" and then increase the time you're gone. If it's just waking her up waiting for you to return then possibly not helpful, but hopefully she'll be reassured that you'll be back and just fall asleep without you there.

Or something that helped my 4 year old was me giving him "special kisses" which he could keep under his pillow and if he felt worried or missed me he could reach under his pillow and get one. I just kissed the palm of his hand a few times then made a big show of getting him to catch them before they flew away and hold onto them tight. This worked for his first sleepover (with family) and then some nights he asks for "special kisses" if he doesn't want to go to sleep on his own.

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:04:09

Thank you so much everyone for your support.

Am sitting here in tears feeling so guilty after hearing the things she was begging for me to stay.

I think I will try the slow withdrawal. I need to write it down to remind myself what to do on each day to keep consistent as have a memory like a sieve as suffering from depression.

LastTangoInDevonshire Wed 03-Jul-13 20:05:12

'Gradual withdrawal' is exactly the technique Supernanny uses. And it works.

OwlinaTree Wed 03-Jul-13 20:05:16

Try a sand timer. Tell her you will be back in when all the sand has run out of the timer. Buy a 10 minute timer. This makes it about the timer not you, and watching the timer will be peaceful and might help her fall asleep.

You will have to go in when the sand runs out tho.

Jojo3973 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:05:21

I too backed off slowly as my dd used to have to hold my hand to go to sleep. She was probably 2.5 when I tackled it. I said my back hurt sitting on the floor and so sat on the end of the bed for a few days, then said it was cold and I needed to sit by the radiator. After a week or so I sat just in the doorway saying I needed to read something in the light. I never ever thought she'd get herself to sleep but it didn't take long. She also listens to the same story cd (my naughty little sister) every night - and has done for the past 4 and a half years!!

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:05:55

I like the idea of the kisses. Good tip, thank you x

StitchAteMySleep Wed 03-Jul-13 20:06:34

My now 4 year old suddenly did this about six months ago. She was having nightmares and was afraid of the dark. We gave her audio books to listen to and a big cuddly lion that eats monsters. She is fine now.

BCBG Wed 03-Jul-13 20:07:06

OK, I might get flamed but here's my take on it.. after four DCs. Is she an only? Onlys often find it harder to learn that Mummy and Daddy have 'me' time than those with siblings, because they have to share parental attention. The giveaway for me here is that you say your 'instincts are to stay'. That is the tug on the heartstrings that ALL little ones instinctively know how to pull. I agree completely with others - stop the back rub, story, songs, kiss, leave. Gradually reduce it to story and kiss. It can take AGES but to be honest, once she knows you mean it she will stop. In my experience, clinging is often because we are not firm, calm and consistent, and they sense our emotional response. To give you an example, DS2 would not eat. Aged two, everything got spat out or refused. It had gone on for the best part of a year. I got offered a good four day week job, and went back to work. I employed a nanny, and he ate for her. Eventually, he ate for me too. When I asked her what the secret was she said 'he doesn't tug at my heartstrings'. grin. When he said he didn't want something she quietly took it away. Once he worked that out his antics slowed up and then stopped. I am not saying that works for everyone, just that I had not realised the extent to which me and my responses/lack of consistency/lack of calm was the problem.

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:07:33

Great idea about the sand timer and at least I'm not the only one to have gone through this.

YoniBottsBumgina Wed 03-Jul-13 20:08:01

You have to really build up the special kisses thing, I did a whole suddenly pretending I'd remembered something really amazing thing and then told him in an awed whisper with my eyes really wide so that he thought it was something really special and exciting just for him. BIL said he couldn't stop talking about it grin it really seemed to help him settle. Sometimes they just need a bit of reassurance.

YoniBottsBumgina Wed 03-Jul-13 20:09:29

YY don't feel guilty about her asking you to stay... you're only human and you have to look after you too. Now you can make a plan and be better equipped to deal with it and she will be fine smile

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:11:02

BCBG yes I think the bit about the heartstrings might be right.

It's hard because my mother was a right cow and would have smacked us for getting out of bed even for things like a genuine nightmare and I don't want to be like that with my two.

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:13:03

Yoni I will try that. I think I will need to write an action plan tonight. Thanks x

TigOldBitties Wed 03-Jul-13 20:17:42

And I do think if you try all these things and it still doesn't work I'd probably let her cry it out.

She's old enough to know you aren't really leaving her and she is loved and cared for that it isn't really suffering to have a few tears until she learns.

ChasedByBees Wed 03-Jul-13 20:20:29

Lots of hints here OP! smile
www.mumsnet.com/toddlers/sleep-problems
With the one where you return every minute etc, you can say you'll give them a kiss every time you come back.

TokenGirl1 Wed 03-Jul-13 20:53:41

Thanks Bees

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