My 18-month-old daughter was having real trouble sleeping. It was driving me crazy! She couldn't sleep through the night, and she hated to go to sleep both at nap time and at bedtime. At first, I thought, “I just have to get a night's sleep!”, and I did the thing of letting her cry in her bed and not coming in. I did this for several nights. It sort of worked, because she stopped waking up so many times in the night, but she still strongly resisted going to sleep at any time, ever!
I've been in a parents support group where we've been hearing about listening to children's feelings, so I decided to try that. The first time I tried it was at bedtime.
I brought her into the living room (I thought that it would be good to be on “neutral ground”) and told her it was time to go to sleep. She began to cry. I stayed with her and listened to her cry, and kept telling her that I knew it made her feel bad, but it still was time to go to sleep. She cried for about a half hour, then stopped. She seemed done, so I took her in and put her in bed. This approach is quite different from the Cry-It-Out approach i'd tried first.
She cried for about a minute, and then just went to sleep!
The next night, we did the same thing, but she cried for only about 15 minutes before she was done, and she went to sleep easily. Now, amazingly enough, she can just go to sleep! I've really seen how listening to her feelings has helped her get them out of her way.
We're both doing well, now that I'm getting sleep again, and I'm beginning to be able to notice that there are times during the day when she's full of tension and needs a good cry, and other times when the issues are just small issues that we can solve in a minute.
It's great to be learning this stuff!
To get help with your child’s sleep struggles, start our online parenting class, Helping Your Child Sleep today.
– a Parenting by Connection Parent