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toddlers not sleeping

 
 
jtrose
 
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 01:34 am
My three year old daughter, who was a wonderful sleeper as a baby, has developed this terrible habit of waking up every night, about 3am. Yes, she's potty-trained and does get up to use the bathroom. However, then she just loses it and will not go back to sleep. Any experienced parents out there have any thoughts? My husband and I are very frustrated. Most nights we just let her cry it out. Tonight I broke down and spanked her. I know that's not the answer. What is??
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 5,546 • Replies: 16
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Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 01:47 am
Need more details. What time is she falling asleep? How many hours of sleep is she getting before 3am? Have you tried cutting back on liquids after dinner so she doesn't have such an urgent need to get up in the middle of the night?

Why is she crying, is it because she is frightened from bad dreams or because she is refusing your efforts to get her to go back to sleep? If she were given the choice, what is her preference to going back to sleep? What is it she prefers doing?
0 Replies
 
jtrose
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 02:04 am
toddler not sleeping
She has a decent bedtime routine (bath, books, songs etc...), usually sleep by 9:00p. She doesn't act frightened, just upset when I don't give her that same song and dance at 3am. She cries for "songs, books" tonight I gave in and sang "just one song and then it's night-night time" (the song ironically is "Make me a channel of your Peace") then after that she starts into the tantrum. She begs me to lay down with her and I have always refused to sleep with my kids. So the alternative has been to listen to her cry. We do cut off evening time fluids, and tonight when she did get up to use the potty it's just a few drops. I just don't know why she won't stay asleep.
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Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 05:59 am
A process of elimination might be to keep her up an hour later til 10 pm and see if she sleeps an hour later. If she doesn't, perhaps there is a noise that regularly wakes her up.

I know in my neighborhood there is this feline and her flock of suitors that do caterobic exercises all night long near my bedroom window. Seems like they finally get her in a good enough mood right around 3am every morning when she lets out a blood curdling screech that not only jolts me wide awake but also has me lying awake for awhile imagining she's being ripped apart and in need of help.

Does it happen 7 nights a week, week days only? Maybe a neighbor leaves for work that early and has a noisy car that wakes her up.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 06:07 am
jtrose--

Welcome. We're glad to have you on Able2Know.

First of all, there is nothing you can do about your daughter waking up at three in the morning. Nothing, that is, except make it her problem.

Tell her very firmly that 3 a.m. is Private Time for everyone--for her, for mommie, for daddy. She is a big girl with a big girl bed. She can go potty all by herself. She is old enough to understand Private Time.

You can't prevent her from waking up, but you can make it very clear that the rule is that asleep or awake she stays in bed--alone.

Of course life would be marvelous if this announcement worked. I doubt that life is that marvelous.

First, follow through on the Big Girls Stay in Bed. No songs, no stories (and hopefully no spankings). If she refuses to stay in her room, put a hook and eye catch on the outside of her door, well above her daytime reach.

If this causes a nighttime tantrum, ignore the hysterics. This will be much harder on you than it is on her. Ignore the hysterics anyway.

The morning after a tantrum, plead fatigue--your fatigue. You can't fix a favorite breakfast because of fatigue. You can't play dollies because of fatigue. Make it very clear that when you don't get your sleep, you are tired. Try to keep the cranky part to yourself.

From your description, your daughter is strong-willed so weaning her from her 3 a.m. togetherness parties may take a few nights of screaming--and a few days of high fatigue for the adults concerned.

Hang in there. Ten years down the road when your 13 year old daughter wants to hang out under the bright lights until 3 a.m., you'll be able to say, "No Way," and make it stick.

Good luck.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 07:31 am
Much sympathy to you, jtrose. I have a 2.5 year old, so I know where you are coming from.

Children's sleep patterns are such that they wake up over the course of the night, period. The only question is what happens then. Do they roll over and go back to sleep? Do they feel the need to use the potty? Do they go right back to sleep after the potty or try for some entertainment? Etc.

A piece of advice from Dr. William Sears that has served us very well so far is that if your child wakes up at night, be "dry as toast". Be there -- be a comfort -- but be BO-RING. No songs, no chat, no discussions, just there.

There could be many reasons why your child woke up and wanted comfort that first time -- bad dreams, a growth spurt, a loud noise, whatever. I think that was the chance to be dry as toast and let her know that you were there but unavailable for anything interesting. Once she found out that interesting stuff happens when she woke up, when she woke up the next night (as, again, all children do, all the time, it's just a matter of what next), she thought "hey, party time." Wink

Everyone has different styles of parenting, and it is important to be consistent within that style. I could never ever ever lock my daughter in her room while she is in hysterics. I am not condemning that way of parenting -- it works and works well for many people. But it would be a drastic departure from what we have done thus far. So, if that fits in your general way of parenting, and feels right, it may well be the best way to go. Dry as toast has worked great for us.

One last thought -- have as active of a day as possible, as that is the single best thing I have found for getting the kiddo to sleep well. Go to the park, run around the backyard, etc., etc., etc.

Here's the Sears website, with lots of useful stuff:

http://www.askdrsears.com

A few specifics:

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070300.asp

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070200.asp

Best of luck!!
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 08:06 am
Bummer. So you've already broken down and spanked her? I'm sure you feel awful about that. I'm sorry.

This is what I would do... today I would talk to her in a quiet moment, apologize for the spanking (I said, this is what I would do!) and tell her that you need your sleep. When you don't get it, you are so tired that you can easily lose your temper. Remind her how much you love her and give her lots of hugs. Tell her that spanking isn't the right thing to do, but happens.

Ask her why she is getting up. She may offer some clues, like a noise, or she's cold, or whatever. Try to solve them together.

Sozobe is right that you need to be boring in the middle of the night. I used to pretend (and frankly this was not hard) that I couldn't stay awake. I would keep falling asleep and would drop my head, close my eyes, and snore slightly. Other techniques are to quit talking in mid-sentence and repeat yourself or what they might say. This is not a difficult act!

However, I have never been averse to a child crawling into bed with me to get warm or snuggle awhile. Then they'd toddle off to their beds on their own or be gently walked back by a sleep-walking mom. This never became a problem for us. (If you run into trouble, you can always make this quickly uncomfortable if you need to, by not being a totally gracious sleeping partner... taking blankets, covering them with too many blankets, pushing them near the edge, reminding them that Daddy farts, etc.)

If she says she feels lonesome, is there a family cat or dog that would stay with her? Could you get her a special lovable looking soft toy for those times?

Good luck... yawn....
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 08:13 am
"Reminding them that Daddy farts..." Laughing

Excellent advice from Piffka, especially the love and hugs post-spanking and the harmlessness of snuggling in bed for a bit in the big picture.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 08:26 am
Well, we all know that it couldn't be Mom!

Thanks Sozobe! You're in the middle of the trenches, just now, while I'm an old warhorse... remembering the days.
0 Replies
 
dupre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 09:12 am
I stayed up all night thinking of responses, and drat!, they've all been taken. Good advice here. The only think left on my list: I read that warm milk with nutmeg and also bananas have a calming effect for sleep. You might try some just before she brushes her teeth at night. If she's a picky or light eater, she might not be eating enough to keep her asleep at night. Just a thought. And you might want to cut out anything with sugar, even fruit, after, say, 6 p.m.

You could also encourage her private time by suggesting she think about pictures she would paint when she was older, stories she could write in her future, or a list of all the questions she will ask her kindergarten teacher someday.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 09:24 am
Good advice about the dairy + sweet + fruit before bed, dupre. We often do yogurt with fruit in it as before-bed snack.

One more question, if I may, jtrose. Has there been any kind of upheaval in your daughter's life lately? Did you move, or did a baby sibling arrive, or are you going back to work or working more...? These kinds of things can affect sleep, too.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 09:27 am
Oh misread you, dupre, sorry. Interestingly enough, something sweet (as long as it's not, like, chocolate) is supposed to help kids sleep:

Quote:
SNOOZE FOODS
These are foods high in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan:

Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk
Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts
Seafood
Meats
Poultry
Whole grains
Beans
Rice
Hummus
Lentils
Hazelnuts, Peanuts
Eggs
Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

BEST BEDTIME SNACKS
Foods that are high in carbohydrates and calcium, and medium-to-low in protein also make ideal sleep-inducing bedtime snacks. Some examples:

apple pie and ice cream (my favorite)
whole-grain cereal with milk
hazelnuts and tofu
oatmeal and raisin cookies, and a glass of milk
peanut butter sandwich, ground sesame seeds (It takes around one hour for the tryptophan in the foods to reach the brain, so don't wait until right before bedtime to have your snack.)


http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/t042400.asp
0 Replies
 
dupre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 09:40 am
sozobe: Thanks for the correct information. Surprised turkey's not on the list! Smile

I wondered too about an odor freshener like Glade, if they have something that smells like rain.
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 10:42 am
jtrose--

You have lots of good advice. The "dry as toast" notion is excellent.

My suggestion of a lock on the door of the room was made because the three-year-old in question has already got a good grip on the reins of power--also the loud speakers of power.

Remember, in a contest of wills, the adult should always be able to outwit the toddler. The toddler won't feel inferior--she'll feel safe, protected by loving parents and firm rules.
0 Replies
 
dupre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2003 10:53 am
You might also want to teach her to tell time, give her a face clock, and tell her when she CAN get up and start her day. Then, staying in bed will not seem such a permanent circumstance.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Apr, 2003 08:52 am
Hey jtrose, how's it going? Hope things have improved...
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Apr, 2003 11:33 am
Here's a slight variant on dry as toast. Friends of mine, whose kids are now 7 and 11 replaced their kids bedroom doors with screen doors til they were about 5. Curtained on the outside. The doors were shut, the kids stayed on the inside, parents and pets on the outside. If and when the kids woke up, the parents were just outside the door, no bright lights in the room - just a few words from outside, and then mommy and/or daddy toddled back to bed. It worked for that family - my friend thinks it's because the kids could always hear them going back and forth, she could check on them without going into the room.
0 Replies
 
 

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