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How to stop the 4-year-old who goes visiting in the night?

(16 Posts)
sprogger Sun 18-Oct-09 20:42:59

For the past few months, my 4-year-old son has awakened at least once a night and wandered across the hall to crawl into bed with DH & me. And every night, I get up as soon as I feel him wriggling under the duvet and quietly take him back to his bed, where he stays until morning. (I sleep nearest the door, so I'm the one who gets awakened.)

I am starting to really get tired of the nocternal visits and there seems to be no end to them in sight. When they first started I thought they were just a phase and he's stop fairly quickly as long as I was firm about taking him back to his own bed, but it seems to be going on and on.

Does anyone have any tips on how to encourage my little nightwanderer to stay in bed?

Reallytired Sun 18-Oct-09 20:50:27

Is there any particular reason why your child needs reassurance? ie. is he having nightmares? Could you try a nightlight? Is he cold? Is he waking up for a wee. Prehaps you need to give him less to drink at bed time.

Its hard, when a child disturbs your sleep. Have you talked to him about staying in his bed during the day when neither of you are sleepy.

I know some people use star charts, but I found that this was useless when my son was four. At 2am he was too sleepy to care about star charts.

malfoy Sun 18-Oct-09 20:53:47

Bribery did work for us with DD aged 3. If we had a week of sleeping all night in her own bed she got to choose a toy from the ELC catalogue.

TheMysticMasseuse Sun 18-Oct-09 20:59:54

bribery here too. i got a lot of mr men books off ebay and she'd get one for every night she stayed in her own bed.

drinkyourmilk Sun 18-Oct-09 21:02:38

is he actually awake? sleepwalkers can seem coherent

sprogger Sun 18-Oct-09 21:06:22

There potentially is, Reallytired - I'm pregnant at the moment and although my son seems to have taken the idea on board fairly well, he could very well feel like he needs some reassurance. Unfortunately it's the pregnancy that's adding to my wish to stop the nightly visits, as I'm keen to keep as much sleep as I can before I'm waking regularly for night feeds.

NorkilyChallenged Sun 18-Oct-09 21:11:56

The most practical solution I can think of, given that you are pregnant, is that you swap places in bed with your DH so that he is woken first and has to deal with your DS.

Tbh, once I found out I was pg with DC2, I was a total bear if I didn't get enough sleep so DP was in charge of all nightwakings of DD1 (who was only 8 months old at the time so there were a lot of them still!)

sprogger Sun 18-Oct-09 21:36:01

Good point, NorkilyChallenged! grin

Bribery does sound like it might be worth trying. DS seems to be quite awake, but his star chart is pretty far away in the middle of the night (though it's worked a treat for getting him to be nice to his little sister and suchlike). He's not going to the loo - I did go through a period of offering to take him whenever he popped in, but he always refused and didn't having any bedwetting problems afterwards.

He might also be cold, actually - he is very active at night and ALWAYS kicks off all his covers. Short of dressing him in layers I'm not sure what to do about that, though.

seeker Sun 18-Oct-09 21:43:20

Am I alone in thinking the proper response to this is to cuddle up and enjoy the lovely snuggles that you won't be getting when he gets a bit older?

Feenie Sun 18-Oct-09 21:46:51

No, seeker - I have a wandering (nearly) 4 year old aswell, have a half-hearted star chart going but secretly enjoy the snuggles! smile

sprogger Sun 18-Oct-09 21:49:47

Seeker, respectfully I DO enjoy my 4 year old being 4 years old. However, I am also tired and would much prefer to cuddle him all day if he likes.

TheMysticMasseuse Sun 18-Oct-09 21:50:11

the only reason i was keen to stop the 3yo coming into our bed is that the 18m old is clamouring to take her place in the family bed, and we just don't fit anymore! i have never turned either away, and i do enjoy the snuggles... but there are ways to gently encourage changing behaviours...

thisisyesterday Sun 18-Oct-09 21:51:25

agree with seeker! (wow, that might be a first lol)

seriously though, i would presume that there is a reason for him wanting to do this, and it may be related to your impending new arrival!

my gut instinct would be to give him all the cuddles and reassurance he needs right now and hope that he grows out of it sooner reather than later.
i quite srtognly believe that if a child's needs are met then those needs will eventually go. if they aren't met then they will just manifest in some other way.

so enjoy it while you can, and if he is still doing it in a few weeks then re-evaluate

Superduperloopthelooper Sun 18-Oct-09 21:54:37

My five year old also visits in the night - he did this when he was younger and then stopped for a while but restarted when he began school. I figure that he must need the comfort and, as Seeker says, it won't last forever.

I do sympathise with the you if you are pg - could you take him out to get a cuddly that could look after him at night in his own bed? I do agree with Seeker that it is actually quite a nice thing, it is a bit sad that we are taught to pack them off again nowadays IMHO.

BonjourIvresse Sun 18-Oct-09 22:07:44

Have a star chart in his rooom that he fills in every morning, leading to a specific event if he gets 14 stars ( nights) 14 days is enough to break a habit. ( we have going to see fantastic mr fox on ours)

cory Sun 18-Oct-09 23:27:03

I used to be frightened at night. My parents let me come into their bed, though they had two children younger than me. I am grateful. It didn't last forever: one day I worked out that people smell and snore at night and I'd be better off in my own bed with my own monsters. But while I needed it, it was good to have it.

My 9yo still turns up now and then. If I get disturbed I just wait until he's asleep and sneak off to his bed.

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