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4 year old won't go to bed on her own

(18 Posts)
clazza39 Wed 29-Jul-15 14:43:03

Before I start, I know that the consensus is that you should do controlled crying or sleep training or whatever your name for leaving your child to cry themselves to sleep when they are tiny. My husband and I don't agree with this at all and didn't do it. I really don't want to discuss whether or not that was the right thing to do, we are where we are now!

We've spent the last 4 years rocking, singing, driving or reading our daughter to sleep and now realise that she has to learn to get to sleep on her own.

She currently has 4 or 5 stories in an armchair in our room then I take her to her room and read another couple of stories in her bed.
Then she usually asks for Daddy, who comes up and either sings or reads another story or two. Sometimes he just sits with her until she falls asleep.

How do we get to her to fall asleep without a story or a song? I feel sorry for her, it is boring just lying there. Neither my husband nor I do that ourselves, we read our books until we are really sleepy.

Constructive replies welcome, thank you!

Seeline Wed 29-Jul-15 14:48:08

I don't think you need to get her to fall asleep with no story or song, but may be just one. My DD is 11 and she still likes a bit of her book read to her at night (she then reads a bit more for herself before lights out) but it is part of the routine.
I think possibly you should start by cutting out the section in your room - it's bedtime so she goes to her bedroom. Get her washed, teeth cleaned and then into bed. Rather than having lots of short stories (I assume) how about, now 'she's a big girl' she has a chapter from a story book each night, and then a kiss from each of you and lights out. Same routine every night will help with boundaries.

Seeline Wed 29-Jul-15 14:49:58

The title of your thread says your DD won't go to bed on her own - is that what you mean, or she won't go to sleep straight away? At 5 I would still take a child to bed and supervise the changing/washing etc before settling them in to bed. I wouldn't expect that to happen on their own.

clazza39 Wed 29-Jul-15 15:30:20

Thank you Seeline. Sorry, my title was misleading, I mean she won't go to sleep without us being there. She'll turn 4 in just over a week.

I'm happy to read some stories but I don't want to keep reading until she falls asleep, because it's a 'prop' or 'crutch'. OK, might try putting her pjs on in her room and getting straight into bed, if she'll go for that, thanks. I don't know if she'll be up for being read to without seeing the pictures. Also, I quite like her to see the words on the page (although I don't follow it with my finger cos I'm rubbish and it hinders the flow of the story). We've got some lovely Enid Blyton books that my godfather gave her, much more prose than words, we've read those before in the daytime but she got bored because there was so much reading before a new picture, if you see what I mean. I'll try it at bedtime though.
Thank you.

sugartees Wed 29-Jul-15 15:50:19

We are in the same boat with our DD (also 4) - she's always needed us to stay with her until she goes to sleep. She used to hold on to my hair and thankfully that has passed but we still read to her until she falls asleep.

Sorry not to be of any help but I just wanted to say you're not alone. And to announce that I'll be shamefully lurking hoping someone gives you an answer!

SilverGiraffe7 Wed 29-Jul-15 16:00:15

My youngest DS and DD have a story CD after i've read to them - they can then snuggle down and listen while i sneak out..... Doesn't work every time as the pitter patter of little feet on the stairs can sometimes be heard after it finishes but it gets me out of the room!

RoganJosh Wed 29-Jul-15 16:01:12

We did gradual retreat. Sit by the bed with no touching. After three nights you move by a few inches. After a few more nights, a few more inches. After about three weeks you are out of the door. You may need to be outside the door for a while, but you can gradually creep away from that.

Alonglongway Wed 29-Jul-15 16:15:10

Audio books. Mine absolutely loved listening to audio books when they were in bed - you can get great children's classics that they might not otherwise read. Mine loved stuff like the Secret Garden, 101 Dalmatians, Just William, Enid Blyton, etc etc

DeathMetalMum Fri 31-Jul-15 21:35:21

We're also in a similar position. Dd is 4.5 and still wants one of us to sit in the room with her until she falls asleep. We do teeth, stories, dd gets into bed, lights out, kiss goodnight, then me or dp sits in the armchair in the girls bedroom until both are asleep, dd2 2.5 is also in the room but isn't that bothered if someone is there or not. Generally they go to sleep within 15/20 min so it hasn't bothered us to do this but I think we need to change things for dd's benefit. We tried gradual withdrawal when dd1 was around 2 but never got even close to the door. sad

ilovehotsauce Fri 31-Jul-15 21:48:54

I think unless reading to her and sitting with her until she falls asleep, is really impacting on you and your partner, she's still quite young in my mind to just get one story and close the door kind of bedtime.

I realise this is no help.

Minionkeeper Fri 31-Jul-15 22:02:43

We tried gradual retreat. I got out of the room a year ago but dh stays in the room despite asking him to leave so I've been unable to make progress.

This summer has been awful. Since it got hot dcs have struggled to sleep so sitting on the landing still generally takes until 9 or occasionally 11 which means frequently all I do in the evening is come in from work, sit on the landing and then go to bed. I hate it. If i leave, it becomes a game of grandmothers footsteps as we return child to bed. Dc is supposed to be moving into a cabin bed this summer. I think it may just be a mattress on the floor because i can't do rapid return to an elevated bed. The new bed will need to be earned.

Haggisfish Fri 31-Jul-15 22:07:13

Dd 5 still needs us to sit with her unless she's absolutely shattered.

Wenglish Sat 01-Aug-15 19:05:24

My 5 year old is exactly the same.
I have no answers but I'm so glad it's not just us in this boat!

clazza39 Mon 03-Aug-15 10:03:54

Want to thank you all for the lack of judgement and the support. Really good to know that others are in the same boat. It's changed slightly now, she has 3 or 4 stories in the armchair in our room then asks to have stories in her bed, so I lie down with her and read more stories, usually only 2 depending on length. She then falls asleep lying down, which my husband and I both think is an improvement on falling asleep in the armchair and being carried through to bed. Still not ideal though!

Ilovehotsauce your comment is helpful, thank you. No, I don't particularly mind doing it, if my husband is home by then he's clearing up downstairs or putting the bins out or other jobs so it's not 'wasted' time (in fact I'm getting out of doing chores!) and of course I love snuggling with my daughter and reading to her. We're just worried that she'll be dependent on being read to in order to get to sleep.

Is that a worry with audio books too? Nice idea though, will investigate.

Thank you all again, sooooo comforting to know lots of people in the same situation.

OgreIt Mon 03-Aug-15 10:24:34

We did gradual retreat when ds was 3.5 and needed me to lie with him to fall asleep each night. It was a very slow process, but painless. We now read two stories (or a few chapters of a longer book) then kiss, light out, a quick lullaby and leave. We only did it as we were planning to have a second baby and felt it would be better to break the habit before the baby arrived. It's made life much easier with our now-six month old ds2. Just change it very slowly and you'll get there eventually.

rhetorician Mon 03-Aug-15 21:32:53

we have this too; we had got to the point where we could say goodnight, come downstairs and just reassure her, but went to stay with grandparents (without us) and was a total nightmare. And since she's been home, we are more or less back to square one, except that it seems to be genuine anxiety rather than just playing us (as it was before). So I think we will have to do gradual retreat. Just a question about audio books - what do you play them on? And can it work with an older sibling there as well? Not sure that DD1 would be too keen.

museumum Mon 03-Aug-15 21:37:07

We do stories in bed till very sleepy then we put in a lullaby playing sheep and he falls asleep alone but with the music. On holiday or away any soft music has worked the same.

CharlesRyder Mon 03-Aug-15 21:50:14

We sat with DS while he fell asleep until last week (he is 5 this month). I thought we would be doing it until his wife too over. grin

We did bath, teeth, him reading his reader on our lap, one of us reading a story to him (him in bed but us leaning over the book on his lap so he could see the pictures) then sitting in silence until he fell asleep.

Last week he suddenly decided he could fall asleep by himself so we do it all the same but leave after reading to him. No tears, initiated by him. No problem.

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