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HELP my 2.5 year old wont stay asleep

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My son before then last 3-4 months has always been a steady sleeper. He was very sick when this all started and slept in bed with me because of his throwing up for 3 days. EVER SINCE THEN it has been relentless, he refuses to go to sleep in his bed. Since he shares a room with his 3.5 year old brother we have resorted to letting him fall asleep on the couch then moving him to his bed after he falls asleep...but then that doesnt even work sometimes. He has a regular nightime routine. Dinner at 6:30, then bath, then a story and bedtime at 9 (which is a stretch for me but i want to make sure he is actually tired).
When I am actually successful he wakes up at 3:30am on the dot everytime. It is really frustrating because I am NOT getting any regular sleep and my husband and I are often separated at night by one of us ending up on the couch.
Now I know that he needs to be broken and we are trying but with 2 working parents its really hard to dedicate a full night or 3 to getting this over with.
I would LOVE some suggestions, tips, solutions, etc. PLEASE HELP...me getting sleep saves people's lives...
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First Helper yourthia
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replied July 23rd, 2010
I just replied a really big post to you but somehow it hasn't worked...Arggh!
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replied July 23rd, 2010
Luckily I've managed to find my post that I wrote you.

It's been a wee while since your post. I hope you've already cracked it but if not....

I totally understand about sleep deprivation being really tough. It makes everything else in life quite hard to deal with. I have 2 kids quite close in age too and I think it can be hard at times. My son has just turned 4 and my daughter is 2 years 8 mth.

In general our kids have been good sleepers but we did work at it when they were very small. Sounds like you had it all sussed till your son was sick.

The bedtime routine sounds good but I would maybe put him to bed no later than 8pm. Sometimes if they are overtired it can make the problem worse.

I'd pick a night where you say to yourself 'ok - no more - we will crack this!' Try to make it the first night of your weekend when you start, say on a Friday night. That gives you 2 tough nights without work the next day. Even better if you had a week off work. I'd explain that day to your son that from tongight onwards he will be sleeping in his own bed and that if he gets up you will take him back to bed. That he will not get to sleep in mummy and daddy's bed. That way he knows what's to come. Do your bedtime routine as normal. Ours is dinner about 5pm ish, play for a while, bathtime starts at 6.30pm takes til just after 7pm then downstairs for calm tv, milk, teeth cleaning. Up to bed for story at 7.40pm. Closing the door on them at 8pm. Not that we manage it every night but we try.

Once he's been put to bed, I'd wait quite near the room so you can hear when he gets up. I found that if they had time to get up and get out of the bedroom then it all became a bit of a game. The first time he gets up I'd take him back to bed tuck him in and say 'it's bedtime sweetie, back to bed', the 2nd time, take him back and say 'bedtime', third time and all future times say nothing and take him back to bed. I'd also avoid direct eye contact as I know how hard it is to ignore when they're looking right at you. I know you've no doubt done this whole thing before but it's probably worth another try and remember to be really strong. My hubby and I used to take a couple of turns each to return to bed after the 1st 3 times to make it a bit easier. THe only other way I've heard people do is when they sit right beside the kids bed the first night and sit further and further away til they're out of the room. We only tried it when my eldest was a baby in a cot so not sure how well it would work.

And I suppose on the same night you'll have to deal with the 3.30am wake as well. I'd do same thing as bed time. Maybe don't say anything at all even the first time. And don't switch lights on or anything. Just take back to bed. If there is screaming I think you just have to let him scream until it eventually stops.

Our 2 have shared a room since the youngest was about 8 months (once I'd stopped breastfeeding in the night). Luckily one kids crying pretty much never woke the other no matter how loud, so we've been able to leave one to cry for a while without worrying about disturbing the other. Not sure if your are like that.

If your older son would wake I'd maybe explain things to him before bed too so he (sort of) understands if he gets woken. I'm sure at 3.5 yrs my son would have been able to understand.

From the experience we've had on those nights when you're trying to break a bad cycle, I find the kids seem to sense a strength that you wont give in. And if you and your husband can agree to be tough together then I really hope it'll work. It's either that or the problem will continue. I know some people say 'they wont still be doing that at 18 so the problem will sort it's self out' I totally disagree with that. I think you have to take some action on these kinds of things to get them the way you want them.

Anyway, that was a totally long post. I really hope you get it sorted. Write back on the site and let me know how you got on. It's a shame no one answered your post before now.

It's now bathtime - oh joy! I'll try and get hubby to do it....
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replied September 22nd, 2010
our live account of controlled crying technique
We have a 2 and a half year old lovely son. Since he was very little my husband and I have allowed him to share our bed. Along the way we modified the arrangements and attached a toddler's bed to ours and he would sleep in his bed, which was still very closed to ours. He would wake up countless times in the night, and it was easier for me to roll over and comfort him to go back to sleep. We are now expecting a second child and we decided it was time to address the sleeping problem (which we created). We let him remain in our room and we moved to another room. He slowly moved into our bed from the toddler's bed and still would wake up about once or twice a night (mostly in the mornings). One of us would go and stay with him.

We do not live in a big enough place to allow him our double bedroom and with the new baby coming shortly, we finally decided that it was time to start being tough. So, we decorated a small room very nicely with his favourite toys and wall stickers, bedding with his favourite cartoon characters and so on. We involved him in the process and he was very excited. The first night he slept there nicely; however, again, in the early hours of the morning he woke up and one of us went to stay next to him until he fell back asleep. Wrong move again. In any case, we are now in the process of trying the controlled crying technique (as explained by Dr. Christopher Green in "The New Toddler Taming" book). Tonight will be the third night and I wanted to share with you step by step how it goes.

In the first night, our son went to sleep perfectly well after his bedtime story. His father left him awake in his room, and we were prepared for the beginning of a night of terror. After talking to himself (or his cartoon characters) he went to sleep beautiful without requesting any of us to be in his room. At about 10:30pm he woke up and started to complain. We watched the time and we were prepared to leave him for 5 minutes before going in to check on him and tell him firmly that we want him to go to sleep and then leave. It was not needed, as he did not even complain for 5 minutes but went to sleep before this time. We were both amazed. We went to sleep. We heard him complaining (not crying) about twice that night, for less than 5 minutes but everytime he went to sleep before the 5 minutes were up, so we did not go in at all. At about 3:30am he woke up and started complaining, this time for the 5 minutes. I went in, told him, as firmly but gentle as I could: "it is bedtime and mummy wants you to go to sleep". He put his head on the pillow and once he was calm (but still awake) I left the room. He started crying again. I could tell the difference between a distressted cry and the dry tears cry. He kept changing what he wanted from doing a wee to water or something else. I guess this made it easier cause we knew it was him seeking attention rather than being genuinly distressed. The good thing in all this was that at least he stayed in his bed and did not leave the room and we were able to apply the controlled crying technique. After the 5 minutes, we left him for 7 minutes and then for 9 minutes and then he started asking for his daddy. My husband went in giving him the same message as I did; and left the room. He continued until 11 minutes of complaining and then he went to sleep on his own. All in all this took just over one hour. He woke up again at 5:50am and we decided he did well (I must say that he was always an early raiser, and almost never slept more than 6:30am - which is fine for us). When he woke up we cuddled him and told him we were proud of him because he slept on his own like big boys do.

Armed with the new (thought) success, we prepared for the second night...This time only, the difference was that he left his room everytime so it was impossible to do the technique. Instead we did what we saw Supernanny doing all the time, which was pick him up, tell him "it is sleep time" and put him in bed and leave. For anyone who thinks or imagines that this is easy, please let me tell you that we found it heart-breaking and extremly difficult. I got tired after 5 minutes of doing this and hearing him cry made it so much more difficult. He again started with any reason under the sun for which he could not stay in the room, but everyime we tried to be firm. My husband and I took turns in putting him back to sleep. We started doubting ourselves and came very close to give in. Slowly (what seemed ages) we saw a change in his behaviour. Instead of leaving his room and coming towards us, he would stay by his bedroom door and complain and scream, then afterwards, as he saw me approaching, he quickly entered the bedroom and closed the door behind him. At that point I would leave him and not enter his room. As I said, we could not do the controlled crying, but eventually, after 50 minutes, he stayed in his room. 10 minutes later, he woke up and tried again, I went towards him, he saw me coming, went to his room and closed the door and we did not hear him make a move. He eventually went to sleep. He woke up at 7am, happy and chearful. Again I cuddled him and kissed him and said how proud I was of him for going to sleep like big boys do. I did not see a change in his behaviour towards me or my husband. He was as cuddly as ever, and as happy as ever; as if the night did not exist.

Tonight is the third night and we'll see how it goes. As determined as I am in the morning that this is what we MUST do, I must admit that my determination falls considerably during the night, in the middle of his screams and cries. When my husband goes in to him, I do my own crying, as all I want to do is cuddle him and hearing him scream breaks my heart and my confidence. I suppose we are determined to give him technique a fair chance and see if it works. Will let you know tomorrow how tonight went. Wish us good luck.
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replied September 22nd, 2010
Good luck with night 3! You've seen for yourself now that percevierance does work and each night will get easier. It is really hard but in a few nights or so when he sleeps in his own bed all night every night you'll be so glad you stuck with it.

Also good that in the morning he acts as if nothing even happened the night before so the technique hasn't had a bad effect on him, even though it's been heartbreaking for you.

Kids need tough love sometimes or they will never learn to do things for themselves and I think that goes for loads of things. As an example I tried to make my 4 year old son get himself dressed as much as possible from as young as I knew he was capable or to put on his shoes and sometimes he would cry and moan that he couldn't or didn't want to but I was strong and said 'you're a big boy now and you can do it' and over time he just got on with it and now I put his clothes out and he gets dressed all by himself but I could have given in for an easier life at the time but at some point he would have to learn so it would have been delaying the innevitable.

My general feeling is that we are trying to help them grow into confident, independant people who are capable of doing things for themselves and know that you are there for love and support and cuddles and guidance when they need it, but not to baby them.

I'm going through the potty training stage with my daughter who is 2.5 and we're having some success but it's still quite hard going.

Night times for us are fine but we have all the other behavioural stuff like tantrums and my son has an answer and arguement for everything and my god it's taking it out of me.

But no doubt we'll get through it and move on to the next stage whatever that may be......

Good luck again. It's so good you've got your husband doing it all with you as well.

xxxxx
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replied September 22nd, 2010
Hi,

Thanks becks81 for your kind encouragements. Tonight we went to his room with him a bit earlier, we stayed on his bed and asked him to put his head on the pillow nd we would play some nice games together. We used a soft, low voice and we played: Simon says and I spy with my little eye. The three of us took turns and we had a wonderful time together. We included: Simon says: close your eyes, and wisper good night and things like this. I then kissed him and said good night and said that daddy is going to read him a few stories and then it is sleep time for him. I left the two of them in the room and he was fine. We'll see later how it turns out. I will post about it tomorrow.

I must stress that if at any point I would think that he is genuinly distressed or gets hystrical, I would try and adapt this. Until now, all we had was complaints from him and screams which sounded like someone that did not get what he wanted. I do not think I would have felt comfortable trying this much earlier. I think he is at an age that he understands what I tell him and what our expectations of him are. He also understands that we mean what we say in terms of expectations, what is acceptable and what not. A 6 months old child would not have this cognitive ability and I would not think it is suitable. On the other hand, I would say that there probably is no "right", "water tight" technique. We try this because we think, knowing our son, it will hopefully work.

In relation to the potty training, we felt the pressure from my parents to train the child very early on. We resisted this successfully. I think it is also a cultural thing and both myself and my husband were strongly against potty training before the child can have an understanding of his bodily functions. I must say that our son AMAZED us in this area. His birthday is in March so we waited until his second birthday and also with the coming of warmer weather, we were able to leave him dressed lighter so we could quickly dispose of clothes when the wee time came. His first potty was one that my sister bough for him, an expensive one, which made a sound everytime he did a wee. He initially found this entertaining and stayed on it whilst watching TV but we soon saw that he was not very comfortable on it. Often we left him naked in the house and about every two or so hours, we would try and play games like: here comes the wee train...all aboard! and we would walk to the bathroom. We then changed the train to an airplaine and so on. It made it fun but did not have much more results rather than getting him used to what to do (which I think was quite important in itself). We then found the Fisher-Price My Froggy Potty, which he found extremly comfortable and loved immediately. We bought two of them and put one on the livingroom and one in the bedroom and constantly repeating to him that if he wants a wee, he needs to go to the froggy. All was fine but the break-through came when we introduced the Rewards Chart. After this, our son was fully potty trained in two weeks...I am not exagerating. We put the rewards chard on the living room door and set as targets some that he was already almost there with (like eating fruits everyday) and introduced the "do a wee in the potty". We had stars of different colours and if he would achieve a number of let's say 12 stars (over about 4 targets) over the whole week, then he would get a special treat. We gave him options in terms of which treat he would like and made a drawing of the weekly reward together, and then when he did one of the things from the chart, we made a huge thing out of it, we clapped and kissed him and said how proud we were of him, we let him chose a star he would like and put it himself on the reward chart. Two weeks of this and he was fully trained. In the middle of this we realised that he was also dry during the whole night, so we bought a water proof sheet, took him to the potty before he went to sleep and trusted him he would be ok. I would say that probably in total he had no more than 6 accidents. I remember clearly he had only two during the nights and the rest during the days. I think he was too caught up in his play or whatever he was doing that he forgot about the wee. Everytime an accident happened, we told him that it was an accident, that this was ok, and that he needs to remember to go to the froggy. During all this time, we reminded him about the froggy and asked him if he wanted a wee. Slowly we allowed him to tell us.

I guess what amazed us was how well he responded to the rewards chart; how excited he was after every star he got and how he would run from me to my husband proudly telling us he got a potty star.

After the two weeks I had a holiday planned abroad, and took him with me. We traveled a lot between Germany and Holland and had some train journeys and flights. I bought an adjustable toilet seat with his favourite cartoon character (Lightening McQueen - from the Pixar movie, Cars), put it in my backpack easy to take out and off we were. We used it at the airport, in the trains, everywhere; and it worked so well. Sometimes he would tell me he needed a wee, sometimes, if I saw that sometime would pass without him telling me, I would remind him about it. I never forced him. I always had a spare change of clothes close by and if an accident happened, then, that's how it goes. He never had an accident outside. All this happened in July time. It is now end of September and he started nursery and since then he had one accident. I think it was because it's a new environment and he did not feel confident in telling people he needed a wee. Even if let's say a few more happen, it's ok...I know he is there with the potty training. Good luck to you and hopefully our experience is of some help.
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replied September 23rd, 2010
Night 3

Success!!! Well, at least last night. After my husband read him two bedtime stories, he kissed him good night and told him it was time to sleep, he sat briefly at the very edge of our son's bed, not making any eye contact or entertaining any discussion. Soon, our son realised that all his daddy was providing was his company, not someone to play with. He twisted and turned a bit, found a comfortable position and went to sleep. He never came with any of the previous "I want a wee", "I want mummy", "I want water", "I want another story" and so on. These were regular requests at bedtime and my husband was almost physically fighting him to stay in his bed and keep his head on the pillow. Now, he left our son's room whilst he was still awake, at 8:15pm. He went to sleep on his own! We have not heard any noise from his room. I think that twice in the night I heard him turn and twist, he never called for us or complained. At around 4am I was wide awake, almost waiting for him to wake up. I was so tempted to go to his room and check up on him, but resisted it. It's amazing how two and a half years of bad sleeping habbits conditioned me to wake up so often in the night. In all fairness, I think that my inability to sleep through night it's also due to the advance pregnancy stage (got 1 week and a half to go). In any case, around 4:30am, he woke up, I heard him caugh (our son has a bit of a cold at the moment) and then went back to sleep. He woke up at 5:45am, all chearful and happy...and we decided it was enough. Given that his waking time is no later than 6:30am, 45 minutes earlier did not warrant a battle.

So, this is how our 3rd night went. We cannot be happier. We hope tonight will be the same (or better, in the sense that he will sleep until 6:30am (parents, are never satisfied:)) but overall a complete success.

Will let you know about tonight!
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replied September 24th, 2010
Night 4

We are beat! I could not imagine it can get so bad.

8:15pm - After reading the bedtime stories, my husband left him in his room. S (our son) was almost asleep.

8:20pm - S woke up and called for his father. He went in immediately and stayed in the same room for about 10-15 min until S went to sleep (mistake?; should my husband have left him for the 5 minutes before going in?);

2am - S woke up and started to complain. My husband immediately went to him, not allowing the 5 min rule. S needed just 1 min with his father in the same room, and went back to sleep.

2:10am - S woke up again and started to complain. We tried to start the controlled crying technique. Did not work because S did not stay in his room, but tried to come towards us, so we had to go and put him back in his room. He was screaming and constantly leaving his room. since about 2:40 until 3am he kept saying he wanted a wee and that his tummy was hurting.

3:00am - I went to him and told him that he will go to the toilet and after that I wanted him to go to sleep. He stopped complaining and said "yes". We went to the toilet. He did a wee, insisted to stay more because "his tummy was hurting. Tried to engage me in conversation. I left the bathroom and returned in 3 minutes. I told him it was time to go to sleep. We went to his room, I gave him a sip of water, I put him on his bed, said "good night" and left. Everything started all over again. He left the room screaming, asking for "wee", "water", "story", "daddy" etc. Everytime I put him back and left the room. My husband and I did turns of 10 minutes each.

3:42am - S remained in his bed without complaining anymore. We throught we finally cracked it. We went to sleep.

3:52am - S started again to scream and leave his room. I put him back and he stayed for 5 min. From then onwards he stopped screaming; but did not stay in the room either. He would come out of his room and stayed outside of his bedroom door, in silence, at times 5-7 minutes at one time. I did not know what to do. I decided to let him stay there until he made a choice where he would go. He always came towards us (never decided to return to his room).I actually think there is a possiblity he was sleeping on his feet. Everytime I took him back to his room, he would not argue with me or complain, in complete silence he would return, climb the bed, and as soon as I left the room, returned in front of the bedroom door and stayed there in silence.

5:06am - i went again to put him on his bed. He did not want to lie down but remained on his bed sitting in silence. I think he fell asleep like this. I very much doubted that he got the message, I think that he was beyond tiredness and fell asleep rather than understanding anything out of this...or we must have the world's most stubborn toddler.

5:15am - I went to check up on him. We was asleep sitting on his bed. I could see his head falling to the side as he was sleeping. He eventually lied down and put his head on his pillow and went to sleep without making a noise. I went to sleep, exhausted, feeling incredibly guilty and hopeless, doubting everything I was doing.

6:20am - S woke up and came towards our bedroom. I was so confused with the lack of sleep, I did not know what time it was and I was ready to start putting him back to sleep. I took him to his bedroom and he started to complain again. I realised it must be morning, so I checked the time, I asked him if he finished with his sleep and he said Yes. I took him to the livingroom and we called it the night.

So, here it is. I don't know what I am doing...I have taken him to the nursery. He was tired and so was I so we both went through periods of loosing patience and being stroppy. He had a few tantrums on the way to the nursery which I think were because of both of us being exhausted and short tempered, but eventually went on ok. He switched from being upset to being a lovely little boy, laughing and playing games on the way to the nursery.

Have no idea what am I going to do tonight... I am going to sleep now...feeling terribly guilty that I get to do this, whilst he stays in the nursery. I wonder if the reason why night no 3 went so well wasn't because he was absolutly exhausted?!

Will let you know...sleep...
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replied September 25th, 2010
Night 5

I think night 4 left both myself and my husband in lots of doubt, maybe having some conflicting views about whether this is worth it or not, about our committment to the technique and so on. I know that I went to sleep after leaving my young one to the nursery and slept for 3.5 hours, missing my midwife appointment and other stuff I had planned. I was upset and felt down all day. I managed to bring myself to discuss what had happened the night before with my husband and we have decided that it is too late to back down now and we will continue every evening...with slight modifications:
1) when my husband puts S to bed, he will not stay with him until S falls asleep - as this gives mixed messages of different expectations during the "going to sleep time" and "middled of the night";
2) we would not allow him to stay outside of his room for whatever long he wants; the message is "you need to stay in bed and go to sleep", therefore, the moment he was out of his bed, we would go and put him back in. Did not leave him with any options.

So, we followed our night routine, which I think it's a good one, then:

7:15pm - S did a wee, brushed his teeth and we told him it was bedtime;

7:25pm - S went to his bedroom and his daddy; He read him bedtime stories and when he finished, asked him to go to sleep; kissed him good night and left the room;

7:45pm - S started to leave his bedroom and tried to come to us in the living room, complaining that he wanted milk or a wee. We kept putting him back to his bed everytime he would come to the livingroom area. A sort of a game started whereby everytime S came to the living room and saw his father heading towards him to put him in his bed, S would close the doors in front of his father's face. We then decided to keep all the doors opened to stop this game.

8:12pm - S did not cry or make any noise. He was not in his bedroom amd I assume he was somewhere just outside it, standing up. We would hear him sob from time to time, apart from this, absolute silence. We decided to leave him alone and not check up on him. He stayed in silence about 20 min in total, then started crying and came to the living room.

8:35m - the whole chaising about started all over again. I put him in his room once, he then left the room and went straight to the toilet saying we wanted a wee. I went and helped him go on the toilet, did not speak with him and left him there.

8:50pm - I decided to go and pick him up to take him to his bedroom. Everything started all over again. It is now that we decided to apply the change mentioned at the beginning, whereby we would not allow him to leave his bed. So, everytime he would leave his bed, my husband would go and put him in the bed. All this back and fro lasted for about 10 min until 9pm, when S remained in his bed (initially sitting and about 10 minutes after, lying down and falling asleep).

5:02am - S woke up after a night where we heard no noise coming from his room. My husband took him to the toilet; gave him a drink of water and took him back to his bedroom. We did not know what to do. S had a very good night and we were not sure if because he woke up so early, we should continue with the rule or just leave him. Decided to continue because it was too early in the morning and it was not wake up time yet. Took him back to his bed everyime he left it. This lasted for 20 min.

5:20am - S remained in his bed for 30 min, until 5:50am, when we called it the night.

Overall very pleased with his progress...I hope it continues.

S attends nursery where he sleeps for 45min - 1 hour every afternoon.

We try to follow the same routine at home, so this afternoon, after he had lunch, we went to the toilet and he did a wee, had a sip of water and I put him in his bedroom. I told him I would read him one story and he made his choice. After reading the story, I kissed him and said "sleep tight" and left the room. He did not complain, or made any noise. He went to sleep on his own... Did we crack it?! We'll want and see how tonight goes.

Will let you know.
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replied September 26th, 2010
Night 6

We are getting very hopeful that this will work. This was the second night in a row that S slept through without needing any of us to stay with him.

7:30pm - S went to his bedroom with his father, after having done a wee and brushed his teeth; This father read him a few stories and then kissed him good night and left his room.

8:00pm - My husband left S's room. S was awake. There was no noise coming from his bedroom. A couple of times I could hear his wake up but he went straight back to sleep.

4:50am - S woke up and made some noise, but did not cry for any of us and went straight back to sleep on his own

5:50am - S woke up and left his bedroom. He had his sleep and it was wake up time.

My husband went to sleep later this nigth and was awake until about 12am, I went to sleep at about 10:30pm. He told me in the morning that between 10:30pm and 12am, S woke up a couple of times but went straight back to sleep without asking for any of us.

Overall, I think he did amazingly well. We aregetting hopeful that we might have cracked it.

This afternoon, we tried to put him to sleep but have done it a bit wrong. We had to go shopping and had lunch outside, and by the time we got home, S was very tired and almost fell asleep with his head on my shoulder whilst coming back home. The moment we got home I put him on the toilet for a wee and changed him in his pijammas, and then went to his bedroom. By this time, he wasn't so sleepy and wanted to spend time with us or playing. We rushed his sleep, without winding down very well...so at 1pm my husband left him in his room after reading a story and asked him to go to sleep. S complained about this and left his room. We started doing the same technique of putting him back to his bed everytime he went out. This lasted 15 minutes and at 1:20pm S was sleep on his bed.

I think he is starting to understand what the expectation is and that we mean business and not mess about when it's sleeping time. We should try and be more careful so we don't actually make it harder on him to go to sleep.

Overall, extremly pleased with his progress. Will let you know how tonight goes.
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replied September 27th, 2010
Experienced User
Sleep training
Thank you for your posts Yourthia. I am also going through the motions with the sleep training and potty training of mine. It is refreshing to hear your methods. I actually feel that you have experienced substantial success with your toddler especially considering he became ill. Getting sick always seems to throw the method off and I've found you have to reapply it (or continue). There are some days where you feel you're just at your wits end though! Again, thanks for your posts.
All the best.
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replied September 27th, 2010
Night 7

Good luck with your efforts, lookup. I am getting more convinced of the idea that consistency, determination and a good enough technique is all it takes. S had the cold before we started, it is not very bad, just a cough and a bit of runny nose...which seems to stay with him for a while now...and it does not seem to bother him very much. He is happy and active during the day and his normal self...

I started posting this with the idea that good or bad, it's an experience and after reading so many other views on the matter I saw that there is no "right" way about it, one method that is 100% guaranteed. As there are different children and so unique in their ways, every parent needs to try and apply what works best for their child, given their own particularities. This is our experience...if it helps anyone as guidance, then it's great!

Night 7
As per previous nights, after the dinner, the bathtime and the wee, I took S to his bedroom, had a relaxed time where I gave him a nice massage (I always gave him a massage with E45 cream after bath...I found it relaxed him and also avoided the dry skin); put him in his pijammas, kissed him good night and left him with his father for the bedtime stories. It was about 7:30pm.

8:00pm - My husband finished reading the stories, he kept reminding S throughout that after the last story it's bedtime. At 8pm, my husband left S in his room, awake and on his own. We heard no noise from him at all. All night he slept beautifully. We could also have a very good night.

5:02am - S woke up and tried to came to us. He was asking for milk. I told him it was still night time and time to sleep and put him back in his bed. He started complaining and came after me. Here we go again! Some 5 minutes after consistently putting him back in his bed, I remembered that when he woke up I forgot to take him to the toilet, so I decided to do it then. The next time he left his room, I went to him and stood him up on the bed and told him and I am going to take him for a wee after which I wanted him to come back to bed and sleep. That is all I told him. He said ok. I took him to the toilet, left him for a couple of minutes, then picked him up and said it is now time to sleep. Took him back to his bedroom and he again started to complain and leave his bedroom. Everytime I took him back, I left the door to his room opened, so to avoid the game of slamming doors or hifding behind them. A while after my husband came and reinforced what I was doing. He put him back in his bed and with a calm but firm voice told him "it is time to sleep". He did this twice, after which S was in bed, with his head on the pillow and stayed in his room. He did not complain...just stayed there. We knew he was not sleep. After 15 minuted I went to check up on him and he was asleep. I closed the door to his bedroom and went to sleep.

7:00am - S woke up happy and chearful. I praised him for the very good night.

Thoughts:
1) I wondered if there is anything else we could do to tackle the early raise. I think 5am it's too early, even for a child who generally wokes up early. We felt bad for starting all this again when he had 9 hours of solid sleep. I wonder if we should continue the same way, do another technique (like waking him up an hour earlier and then put him back to sleep). If I change now, wouldn't it confuse him more? I also consider buying a clock for children and explain to him that when the small arrow reaches 7 and the big one is at number 12, it is time to wake up. S is very good with numbers and even though he does not yet read the clock, he understands what I mean by big and small arrows and is very familiar with the numbers. We will think about it more and decide what to do. I think that regardless of changing or not the technique the clock cannot do any harm...
2) leaving the door opened to his bedroom was a good idea. As I said before, it avoids the opening and closing or the doors games or hiding behind the door.
3) Another thing that I think worked very well was that my husband reinforced what I was doing. it gave the message that mummy and daddy want him to do the same thing. What I found was that if it was me mainly doing the technique (like this morning), the moment my husband came and told him the same thing, it took S very little to settle. The same worked two night ago, when it was my husband maily doing the technique and when I came, S settled very quickly.
4) I kept thinking that we could have easily gave up after night 4 and we would have been one night away from getting there. Hence my thoughts on committment and determination. It is hard, but I honestly do not think we have "harmed" him in any way. He loves his bedroom and comes in the morning proud of himself for sleeping on his own like a big boy.

Will let you know how tonight goes.
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replied September 28th, 2010
Night 8

We were away to see my sister and her little one all day today and came home a bit late. We managed to have a later dinner and were considering putting S to sleep 30 min later that usual. This would have helped us see if he would wake up a bit later in the morning. To our surprise, when the time to sleep came, S told us that he wants to go to his room and have a bedtime story. So we ended up having the same timetable.

Another change was that tonight we decided that it was time for me to try and put him down to sleep. Theoretically it should not matter, now that he goes to sleep on his own. In the past the roles were reversed and it was I who always put him to sleep and he demanded my presence. When my current pregnancy became quite advanced and it was difficult for me to roll about and be as mobile as I used to, my husband started putting S to sleep. He fought with him everytime, because S wanted mummy. Since we started the technique, it was my husband who did the bedtime with him and reading of the stories and with less than a week to go until my second child comes along, we haven't changed this. We have now thought that maybe we are getting him too used with his daddy putting him to sleep and all we do is reverse the problem. So tonight it was my turn. We were extremly pleased to see that it did not matter who put him to sleep. Everything went just as easy as when my husband did it.

7:45pm - I went in his bedroom with S and read him three bedtime stories. I told him that there going to be three and asked him to tell me which ones he wanted. After every story we dimmed the light more and more.


8:05 - After reading the stories, I kissed him good night and left the room. He went to sleep without any problems.

3:00am - S woke up with a scream. It sounded as if he had a bad dream or something. By the time my husband got off the bed, he found S sitting in the lobby crying. He took him to the toilet but S did not want to go. He took him back to bed and S went to sleep immediately;

4:00am - Being such a light sleeper as I am these days and actually not sleeping very well at night I could hear every move S made in his bedroom. I heard him woke up and he said something; then he twisted and turned for about 15 minutes but never called for any of us. He then went to sleep.

5:00am - Again S woke up with a scream. Sounded exactly like the one at 3am. I went straight to him. It made no sense for me to wait for him to cry for 5 min before going to him. I was convinced by the sound of his scream that this is what woke him up and he possibly had a bad dream. I went straight and found him trying to get off his bed and he was crying. I comforted him and asked if he had a bad dream and he said yes. He settled very quick after a hug and a kiss and went to bed easily.

6:00am - S woke up. He was in good mood and was saying that he slept like a big boy in his room.


7:45pm - I
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replied October 3rd, 2010
Other nights

It has been about 6-7 nights since I last wrote. In the meantime our second son was born on 29.09.2010 and everything went perfectly well. We are starting to get used to each other now and began the sleepless nights and frequent feeds and so on. In the middle of all this, I could not stop by think about how on Earth would we have managed if we did not sort out S's sleep before the new one came along?! Inevitably, S is feeling the change in the household and started to be a bit more demanding of my time and requesting my presence more and more. This is understandable, given that my attention is now devided between S and the little one (we may name him A), however, his sleep has not been disrupted. He loved his room, he continues to go to sleep on his own around 8pm and wakes up anytime between 5am - 6:30am. We cannot be happier with him and the fact that we decided to tackle this...and were successful.

I started writing this trail of thoughts as an account of our experience with control crying technique with our 2.5 year old son who has been sleeping with us all his life. In actual fact we only used this technique one night, when he stayed in his bedroom; the rest o the nights was more like "Jack in the box" technique, whereby we would repeatedly go and put him in his bed everytime he left his room. We are now at the end (hopefully) of this journey, so I am going to stop there with the posts... I am sure other things will come up, with S or the little one, and I might find myself trying to make sense of things by seeking other people's experiences and sharing mine.

Til then...all the best to you.
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replied October 28th, 2010
Ok, reading this gave me hope. I'm a "single" mom - my husband is deployed overseas - and since my husband left to go back a month ago, my 2.5 year old wakes up anywhere from 4-7 times a night starting at 11:30PM and by 3:00AM we are usually awake for the day! I work full time and part time outside of the house, so I am more than exhausted! Last night I finally had to lock him in his room and just let him scream. He screamed for about 30 minutes until he finally fell asleep. I have changed our bed time routine, and tonight I am shutting him in his room from the beginning of the night. I have tried the bringing him back to bed, letting him sleep with me, singing to him... you name it I've tried it! So we'll see how the next few nights go using the crying method.
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replied October 31st, 2010
Hi tiredmommy77,

Just read your post. I hope you managed to make some progress. Just reading this one thought came to my mind...I wonder if it is a good idea to lock him in his room, it could frighten him and it is a quite scary experience. It worked better for us to leave the door to his room opened when he was playing about with it. I would advocate for returning him to his bedroom reminding him from time to time what is your expectation of him, (keep it very brief, in a calm but firm voice: "It is bedtime now and mommy wants you to go to sleep"), put him in his bed and leave. And do this again, and again and again and again. It took us about 7-8 nights until we finally cracked it and I mist tell you that I KNOW how hard it is...we felt like giving up so many times and felt soooo guilty. The whole secret here is consistency and do not give in...otherwise it confuses your child and it's not fair to him. Once you started, as long as you know you're not harming him, carry on until you've cracked it. Praised him every morning if he did well.
The update on our little S, is that it is now such a pleasure to put him to sleep. Before it used to take us between one hour to one hour and a half of crying, staying with him, tip-toe-ing aroung the house, negotiating between stories and so on. It now takes 20 min of absolut pleasure. He knows daddy or mommy reads him 3 stories. Everytime we put him to sleep we ask him:"what will happen after mommy reads the last story?" and he replies: "mommy leaves the room and S goes to sleep". (he says this because everytime we put him down we told him what will happen next, and he now knows what to expect). He never left his bedroom to chaise or follow us, he sleeps shortly after we leave his room.

It must be so hard for you on do this on your own, and also working in the same time...but you can do it, for his sake...and yours. Try to start this not on a Monday, but a Thursday or Friday (the week will not seem that long, especially because you're working); and you'll get the weekend in the middle hopefully to catch up on some rest. It would be great, if you have a friend that could look after him for a couple of hours in the weekend, to allow you some rest... Using a diary to record what happened every night, could also help...reading back, you might see some progress, even if you may not actually feel mush difference...also, even if it is to record your own feelings of frustration and guilt and hope as you feel them...its very important...especially cause you're doing this on your own.

We are fighting with the waking up early in the morning...and i think we may actually have found the trick. But will write about this another time. For now, focus on one task at a time, be prepared for lots of guilt and wanting to give up, know that it's coming, so you'll know how to deal with it when it does...be consistent and carry on. I will check this page more often, if there is anything you want to share, I will at least be able to support by listening to you and try to offer some of my experiences...maybe it will help.
Good luck...and let me know how it goes.

Me
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