When my daughter was around two, I was ready for her to move to her own bed. I knew helping children sleep in their own beds could be challenging, and I wanted the transition to be as easy as possible for her, so I thought naptime, instead of bedtime, would be the best way to slowly introduce this idea.
However, when I told her she would be napping in her bed, instead of in mommy and daddy's bed, she began crying, yelling and fighting the idea. Not what I was expecting! I gently told her that I would stay and nap with her. This didn't ease her fears and her crying intensified.
I was still pretty new to Staylistening at this time and began to have doubts about transitioning her to her own bed because her reaction was so intense. I had to remind myself it was a safe situation, we were only napping in a different bed.
I also reminded myself that she never had a problem sleeping in other beds, like at a relative’s house or in a hotel while traveling. So, whatever her feeling was, it wasn't about the current situation. It seemed the feeling was some deeper fear that needed to come out before she would feel okay in her own bed whether it was day or night.
I listened as she cried and fought saying she could not, and would not, sleep in her own bed. I offered gentle reassurance that I really thought it was okay to nap in her bed and reminded her that I would stay with her. We stayed on the bed together while she showed me how hard it was to even think about this change. Then, when she tired of crying she fell asleep in her bed.
This repeated the next two days. I’d tell her we were going to nap in her bed and then she'd scream and cry that she couldn’t do it. I kept holding out the idea that it was a good place to sleep. On the fourth day, success, she easily napped in her own bed like it had never been a problem.
After working so hard on both our parts, her showing me how hard it was to make the change and me listening and creating a safe space for her to be able to release her fears, I decided to hold off on the nighttime transition for awhile.
But my daughter had other plans, exactly a week later, at bedtime, she said she wanted to start sleeping in her own bed at night too. And she did! It was tough listening those three days, but so worth it for both of us. And I'm so glad she was able to initiate the nighttime transition when she was ready.
~ Michelle Pate, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant. Join her in her next Building Emotional Understanding class where you will learn the listening skills, and get the support you need, to help your family through any transition. You can also connect with Michelle on Facebook.