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(7 Posts)
user1483397087 Wed 04-Jan-17 15:40:23

Hi everyone
I'm new to MUMSNET but I could really do with some advice about sleep training fro my 3.5 yr old. Has anyone tried the gradual withdrawal method? I've tried the repeated putting back to bed, which just ends in total meltdown and clinging to legs. I've also tried co sleeping which didn't work. At the moment I'm doing the popping in and out every 5 minutes but this doesn't seem to working in the middle of the night. She seems to have a very busy mind and has night fears about things she has imagined or seen.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Jan-17 18:40:16

I've a lot of experience with Gradual Withdrawal with a baby, but none with an older child.

It's not a quick fix and unless you have somewhere to sleep in her room, it will mean not much sleep for you if she's waking in the night.

The basis of GW is trust that you will always give as much reassurance as child needs right though fully asleep, all the time, every time, now and ib the future. Then over time you make tiny changes so that ahe needs your reassurance less and less.

You can't even start HE until you have the trust. Child needs to stop the fear that you might leave her alone. She needs to know that you never will. That you'll always be there and will give her as much reassurance as she needs. No trying to seek out just as she's dropping to sleep

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Jan-17 18:40:50

HE = GW (gradual withdrawal)

user1483397087 Wed 04-Jan-17 19:09:55

Many thanks for this. It's sounds full on but we've basically had no proper sleep for the last 3.5 years!

The last year has been broken sleep every day. We contacted a sleep nanny who was helping but then we had a massive set back with our daughter when she had a bad dream and wouldn't let us leave the room. We've since run out of sessions with the Nanny.

We've been able to get it back to us being outside the door but she still finds it very difficult to drop off in the middle of the night. She comes through to our room 6 or 7 times a night. I put her back to bed, think she's settled and then 10 minutes later she pops up again. This can go on for an hour (separate from the other 6 times) until she's so exhausted (and me) that she drops off for a couple of hours.

Have you got any ideas about trying to curb her fears about being on her own?

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Jan-17 21:33:43

If she's over 3 I would use firm boundaries and rapid return, not gradual withdrawal.

Basically just set The Rules, accept no deviations from The Rules and the moment The Rules are broken you get to child as quickly as possible and return to bed.

An example of The Rules would be a mantra like:

"It's sleep time now. You lie down quietly in bed at bedtime. Nan night".

That covers everything.

Any time she gets out of bed, for any reason, return to bed and say the mantra.

Any time she makes a noise, go to get straight away, say mantra, leave.

Any time she's sitting up in bed, say mantra and lie down.

Be mega firm and very strict. Be absolutely certain that under no circumstances at any time during the day or night will she ever be able to deviate from The Rules.

Shes going to protest against this, of course. But you are the grown ups. She needs you to set the boundaries, for her own well being.

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Jan-17 21:34:57

Oh, and if she's scared leave the light on. Children don't have to sleep in the dark if it makes them scared.

user1483397087 Thu 05-Jan-17 07:31:19

We've tried all the stern minimal emotional approaches and she doesn't respond to them. She is so strong willed that it always ends up with her having a meltdown and refusing to get back into bed. And when i say meltdown I mean meltdown! Screaming and crying the house down at full volume at 3am, kicking and grabbing hold of our legs. We decided that we couldn't go through this approach anymore as it was so distressing time and time again.

I turned her night light off last night and she seemed to be ok with this. She was complaining that she could see funny shadows before so we thought we'd try it. She was up several times in the night but she would go back to sleep for a hour and a half every time, where the night before she just wouldn't go to sleep. Between 3am and 6am i was up every 15 minutes!

I haven't really slept that well in 3 and half years. I'm so at the end of my tether that if this gradual approach doesn't work then I'm going to put a bed in our room that she can sleep on.

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