5 years old! Can I still ask for advice here?(7 Posts)
Our 5 yr old says he doesn't like to sleep by himseld. He likes to sleep with me. I have a battle to get him to sleep in his own bed at bedtime then he gets up at maybe 2am and climbs in with us. He's been like this off and on most of his life. He has spells of sleeping fine by himself then nightmare spells like this where he's up and down all night.
He's too big for co sleeping now and no-one gets any sleep. Last night I got out and slept in my older son's spare bunk bed. Dh said son climbed all over him for 20 minutes then got up and came looking for me and we spent the rest of the night crammed in a single bed together while dh had the whole big bed to himself.
I can't decide if he genuinely feels a need to co-sleep and be close to me, or if it's just a bad habit. Should I humour him or should I be making him sleep alone? I'm willing to lose a few nights sleep to get this sorted bit am I being mean? Does he just want to be with his mum?
What would you do?
No helpful suggestions, just empathy. DD (4.5) is similar - we have a superking bed in our room, and two single mattresses on the floor in hers, made into another superking (so both rooms have bed space for two people). That way we at least get some sleep. We've decided maximum sleep is our priority, and that she'll grow out of it; it works for us, but others may well have better suggestions.
At 5 years old it's likely to be a habit.
There's some research that shows that "pre-school" (It doesn't put an age, but id say under 4 years old or so) children have a need to feel comforted to go to sleep. Many children get that comfort independantly and without a parent. But there will always be children who get their comfort soley from Mummy and have no other ways to feel comforted and secure at bedtime.
So up to about school age, while your DS could have been encouraged to transfer his comfort to something that doesn't require you (teddy, thumb sucking, ear tickling etc), by now he shouldn't actually need that comfort and it's likely to just be habit.
So I'd do Rapid Return and also a reward system.
Rapid Return means being quick about taking him back to bed, no messing around settling him and be consistant and relentless about it.
Talk to him about it lots in the week oeeceeding starting. Make sure he's very clear what will be expected of him and what will happen if he doesn't comply. And give a countdown of days until it starts.
Develop yourself a mantra, for example "Sleep time now. You lie quietly in your bed at sleep time. Nan night". Every time he gets up in the night, wake yourself up and get up (or DH gets up) straight away and immediately return him to bed. Say the mantra while tucking in, give kiss and leave.
Close the door. He needs to embrace the fact he is staying in his room alone. So make it non-scarey. Night light, whatever he needs.
If he cries, or gets up again - repeat. Back to bed, mantra, leave. Repeat over and over and over and over again. Consistency is key.
Don't start the reward chart strsight away - he is likely to "fail" the first few days so it would just be disheartening. After a week, maybe a few days, start a reward system for staying in bed all night.
I would give an instant reward if he stays in sleeps all night in his room. Biscuit when he wakes up for example.
Then offer an incentive to not only sleep in his room, but also to not wake you up in the night. Pick a toy he wants from the Argos catalogue, cut it out.
But some special giant stickers. Make space for 10 stickers around the edges of a piece of A4 and stick the toy (he picked from the catalogue) in the middle. Ten uninterputed nights and he gets the toy.
We have this with our 4.5yo insomniac. I've tried returning him to bed repeatedly and 10 stickers etc on the advice of the HV. Sometimes it works but then a few days later he gets clingy- I return him and he just gets up again 2 hours later. And again. All night. Turns out he can function on less sleep than me so it doesn't really bother him. He just wants to see me repeatedly during the night.
Our current solution is a toddler mattress on the floor by my bed. He will come in and lie there, sometimes with me holding his hand if he's struggling to sleep. It means I don't get kicked all night but can reach out to him if he needs it. Working well so far (2weeks in). For us the gentle approach is definitely more successful.
Good luck, hope you find something that works for your family.
Thanks for your suggestions. He's my 3rd child and the only one who's ever had trouble sleeping. You'd think I'd be expert at this by now.
My instinct is just to let him stay close if he wants to, but not when it starts disrupting everyone's sleep.
So last night we made him a nest on the floor beside our bed with blankets and told him he could come and sleep there in the night if he wanted to. He came in about 3 and went straight to sleep on the floor no problem, slept till I tripped over him getting up at 6.30am. So we'll carry on with that for a while I think and see how we go.
Just wanted to add that my almost 5 year old started refusing to sleep by herself after a long haul holiday at Easter. We did 2 weeks of rapid return all night (she would sleep for 2" mins max at a time some nights!) but it just deteriorated and everyone was at breaking point. We started making a nest on the floor in our room and all is now calm in our house. She goes to bed like an angel with the landing light on in her own bed, and she knows that we turn the light off when we go to bed. If she wakes in the night and the light is off she is welcome to come and sleep on the nest on our floor - she comes and sleeps on it every night and has done for the last 6 weeks. We are all at peace with the situation. I hope it works out for you
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