To ask how to get my 4 year old to sleep(21 Posts)
Over the last year she's been woken up a lot by our dd2. Dd2 now pretty good but dd1 a nightmare!
She wants me to lie down with her at bedtime and whenever she wakes at night. Initially did it to comfort her for a little bit but now she doesn't ever want me to go and will just get up immediately after I've gone because she "can't sleep". Also would have a total meltdown if dh tried to settle her instead of me.
3 nights ago we told her that I wouldn't lie down with her anymore. I decided that I would give her a cuddle and then check in on her in increasing periods of time. Also have a reward chart. Worked fairly well at bedtime but I was in there for a long time....but then she was awake screaming for about 3 hours in the night because I wouldn't lie down.
Next night she was so shattered she slept well
But tonight it's taken her 90 mins to get to sleep, again screaming.
I won't lie down with her because it was keeping her awake and she waking up for it in the night. But I Also don't just want to close her door and leave her to scream.
How the heck do I sleep train a 4yr old?!!
Also not sure how much of her reaction is about control and how much is anxiety. She says she doesn't like being alone at night, she's lonely, bored, scared of a sound in her ear (don't think there is one because she never mentions it in the day) and other things. In the day she has been more clingy the last 6 weeks as well.
I feel harsh because I don't sleep alone! Anyone think putting dd1 and dd2 in same room might help? Slightly concerned that might mess dd2 up again
So desperate and really dreading tonight! Any thoughts? (Please be kind, I'm exhausted!)
I’d try bribery. What is the deal at the moment with the reward chart? Just stickers etc? Have you said, “if you got to be nicely for 4 nights on the row , you can have a new doll/Lego set/playmobil set/whatever she really likes?” We had to bribe DS to sleep through like this, it did work.
You have to stay strong and ride it out. That is literally all you can do. If you give in now, you will undo any progress you've made.
Talk with her about how things will be, give a loss and cuddle, and then put her to bed. If she gets up, right back she goes. No talking, no back rubbing, no laying down with her. Right now she knows she can manipulate you, that's why she's pulling out all the stops with the drama. This needs to stop.
Consistency and routine is key. She is old enough to understand.
Story, short cuddle, kiss and say goodnight. If she wakes up in the night, take her back to bed and as above but minus the story. Repeat ad nauseum, do not deviate! It may take a week or so.
I feel for you. I have a 4yo DD who goes through similar phases.
Audio books? A story she's familiar with but only gets to listen to once she's in bed and quiet.
Anything in her life changed or about to change?
What time is she going to bed? Is she tired? Mine were night owls so went to bed fairly late.
Sorry for the inquisition!
Agree re sticker chart. Ours is for DD getting herself dressed for school in the morning without moaning.
If she does it all 5 days then she gets a magazine or whatever.
Have you tried to find out why she wants you there? My DC did this at a similar age and he was scared of the dark. It passed after a few months. We just lay with him as wanted him to know we were there for him if he needed us.
Reverse psychology? Tell her that if she closes her eyes tightly and waits nicely, you'll finish a couple of jobs and then you'll be up to lay beside her as a reward for being so patient. To keep her occupied 'blow' a dream into her ear. You start the story dream off, i.e. Fairies, princesses, super heros and then tell her you'll be back soon to hear all about her dream, but if she opens her eyes, it won't work.
Then nip out for 5 mins and go back in as a reward. Next night the same, but leave it a bit longer. She'll soon fall asleep by herself busy trying to dream 'knowing' you'll be back.
Rather than telling her you're not coming in, you tell her you're happy to, but in a sec.
Will she read to herself?
My DD had an IKEA wall lamp next to her bed 'A Big Girl Light' that she used enjoy switching on/off.
It might distract her and break the pattern?
Audio books and/ nursery rhymes on quietly is another thing my DC's like.
I used to do the bedtime routine, read two stories then a bit of a pat on the back. Then I'd whisper that I was just popping downstairs to "take the bin out/wipe the microwave/empty the dishwasher/any random activity" but I absolutely promised to pop back up in 5 mins. He'd fall asleep waiting for me. It was the security of knowing that I'd PROMISED to come back that helped I think. I always did go back up and 99% of the time he was asleep.
I did use to come up with a different random task every night though! "I'm just going to pop downstairs and polish the cat, I'll check on you in 5 mins DS"
We've said we'll take her to Peppa pig world if she completes the reward chart but maybe we should do some smaller rewards for her to achieve sooner. Bribery has always worked until now!
I see what you mean @aquamarine1029 about the manipulation...at the moment she has one of us in the room while she's screaming. I tell her I won't cuddle her until she's been quiet for x minutes but even though I'm not doing that I'm still there either trying to reason with her or tell her off...so giving attention. She just absolutely loses it and gets straight of bed and screams on the landing...waking dd2 up.
@gnomedeplume ask away I tried music tonight but overall concerned about adding anything which might then become another sleep prop/distraction. Even as a baby extra things that were meant to help settle her (night lights, ewan etc) would just stimulate her instead! Yes to Q2, she knows at some point that we're going to be moving. We have no idea when or where yet as depends on dh job. Also starts school in September...try to keep both things low key but she's probably picking up on the move etc. Q3- she's always tended to benefit from an early bedtime (6.30), recently moved it to 7 to see if it helped early waking but last couple of nights it's been early again because she's shattered.
I can tell she's trying to control the situation by asking me to do various things but also concerned there could be some underlying anxiety too.
Yes....stick them in the same room (try it as a treat at the weekend to see if it helps - if it does then allow it to continue.) My daughter is now 9 and until she was 8 shared with one or other of her siblings. She still gets anxious but is so much better.
@bluebuilding I've given her a torch to use for mornings if she wakes before her groclock changes. I think she would just read instead of sleep in the evenings. How long does your dd take to.settle?
So I tell her I'll be back in 2 mins, then 4 mins etc or that I just need to pop.out to.do something but i'll be back...has worked well in the past. Tonight though she just started crying within seconds of me going...should I just ignore her until the time has passed?! I feel so harsh doing that and worried it's going to make her dread bedtime!
Watching with interest as my 5yo dd has been like this from birth. Nothing to add but OP you are not alone!
My DD went through a phase of this too. After her story I used to go into my bedroom (next to hers) for a while so that she would know I was close by. If she got out of bed or kept calling me I would go downstairs, she soon copped on that if she wanted me nearby she had to go to sleep. I am pretty easy going but I was always consistent at bedtime, I really need my sleep! Tbf she does fall asleep quickly generally though. It's hard op because it's always in the back of your mind that something is wrong when they are clingy or whatever, but 9 times out of 10 there is no real concern they just want you to stay with them and put off sleeping for as long as possible.
DD is 6 now and normally reads for about an hour (7-8pm), my 4yo looks at his books for about 10 minutes before he passes out asleep!
I just think that sometimes a change of routine can help break habits.
Thanks @deadringer that's reassuring, I think I'm always worried about messing my kids up! Would you just stay downstairs until she quietens down?
I just have no idea what's 'normal' for a 4 year old! My dh wants her to just go straight to sleep and sleep through to her sunshine...I'd like that too but also don't think sibu in wanting comforting sometimes...she's still little!
Mine is like this to a degree, wants me to sit with her until she falls asleep, which is usually around ten minutes, and then comes in to get me if she wakes in the night. She’s my third and having been through various battles/routines with the first I just roll with this. She’ll grow out of it eventually, or reach an age (6 ish) where I’ll just tell her that’s it
Have you checked there isn't a noise in her room, maybe a noisy pipe or some other white noise which is disturbing her?
Rather than music, a story which is quite soothing might work better. Mine were all keen audiobook listeners from a similar age. Lots of similar short stories which follow on one from another might be reassuring, no worries that the story will end and that she will be stuck in silence.
Are sleep props a problem? Isnt a bedtime routine a form of sleep prop?
@gnomedeplume I don't think there is a noise, have tried to listen out for anything. Saw the Dr today to rule out tinnitus because she's been saying about a noise in her ear...Dr thinks she might be hearing her pulse. I'll see how that goes as an audio book might help distract if it continues to bother her. Found a lovely Enid Blyton bedtime one which runs for 6 hours... hopefully that would be long enough
Re: sleep props, I don't have a problem with them per se, it's more that she is very quick to become attached to things and in the past they've actually stimulated her more than helped her sleep. This has happened with pretty much anything we've tried in the past.
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