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Nightmares????
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Tapples posted:
Let me start from the beginning. I have a two year old daughter. From birth she has never slept in a room by herself. As an infant she slept in her father and I's room. As she got older she slept in a crib in our room, her grandmothers room, her grand fathers room, or my nephews room. I lived in Ohio with her father for all but one year of her life. During that year I lived back in pennsylvania helping my father because he had gotten sick. So my daughter was going from ohio with her dad/ my boyfriend to Pennsylvania with me once a month. She would spend a month with me and a month with him. Finally my father got well and beat the cancer he had been fighting so I moved back to Ohio and my boyfriend and I got an apartment of our own. Our daughter has her own room now. And just about every night since we moved in she has woken up screaming for her dad or mom and crying. We thought it may have been the dark so we started to leave the hall light on at night after we put her to bed before we went to bed. But she continued to wake up. So our next thought was that she was getting hot because she is always sweating so we put a fan blowing the ac into her room and that didn't help either. She still wakes up and every morning around the same time she crawls in bed with us. She says shes scared and climbs in between us. I am at a loss. I never had issues getting my nephew to sleep by himself in his own room when I was taking care of him. We are waking up at least two times in a night because she woke up screaming and crying. Then we are woke up every morning when she climbs in our bed. We are open to any suggestions.
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Roy Benaroch, MD responded:
Does she fall asleep completely on her own, or is someone in the room with her as she falls asleep?
 
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Tapples replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
No she does not. Some one is in there with her when she falls asleep. She will not sleep otherwise.
 
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Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Tapples's response:
If someone is there with her has she falls asleep, then she will continue to wake, scared and upset and unable to fall back asleep, when she realizes that someone snuck away and she's alone.

Getting from where you are to where you want to be will not be quick or easy, and there is no entirely tear-free way to do it.
 
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Tapples replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
so what would you suggest I do? I am open to anything. I know that us putting her to bed is not the best way to do it. She is in a toddler bed because she climbs out of a crib. And she does not want to stay in her bed if we leave her in her room. I am up for anything.
 
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Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Tapples's response:
The goal here is to get her to the point where she consistently falls asleep, all on her own. You could do this cold-turkey, lock her in and cry it out, but I think that would be very difficult and maybe even cruel at this age. So I'm going to suggest a somewhat-gentler approach. It will take longer, but it will work if you stick with it.

The idea is to gradually become less intimate and less snuggly at bedtime. You didn't tell me exactly what your current bedtime routine is, but let's assume that what's going on now is that you lie in bed together, snuggled close, until she falls asleep. Here's example steps to follow to gradually withdraw. Take the next step about every 5 days, or as soon as she's comfortable on the current step. When she wakes later at night (which she will continue to do through most of this process) do NOT go all the way back to step zero—resume doing exactly what you were doing at bedtime.

  1. (exactly what you're doing now) snuggle together in bed
  2. stay in bed with her with bodies touching, but less snuggly
  3. stay in bed, but not touching
  4. sit next to bed with your body draped next to hers
  5. sit next to bed in a chair, looking at her
  6. sit next to bed, looking away
  7. sit next to bed, looking at a book
  8. move the chair 1 foot away from her bed, looking at a book
  9. move the chair 3 feet away from her bed"026.
  10. etc"026. keep moving the chair further away every 5 days or so until you're in her doorway, and then out into the hall, and then finally so far out into the hall that she can't see you. That'll probably be 6 or so more steps, but that's how you do it.

So: very gradually move away, and if she wants you closer, just calmly stand your ground and do not go backwards. You can make each step as teeny as you like—but each step must be to increase your emotional and physical distance.

Once she is falling asleep without your emotional and physical presence, she will stay asleep all night.

At the same time, be sure to offer encouragements and tangible rewards. She can earn stickers the next morning for a good night (meaning she fell back asleep when you resumed the same step you were at during bedtime.) After 3 stickers, ice cream! After 8 stickers, a trip to the dollar store!

It will take time, but keep in mind she's been practicing her current sleep routine for over 2 years, and it isn't easy to make new habits. You can do this if you stick with the plan.

Best of luck!!
 
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Tapples replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
thank you very much. I will try that. we currently sit on the floor next to her bed but we do not pay attention to her falling asleep we do other things to keep us occupied at that time. If we pay any attention to her she will not even attempt to go to sleep. In the morning when she crawls out of her bed and into ours she climbs in and snuggles with us. That is a good plan. We thought about a gate at our door or hers but then again we do not want her to feel like she is trapped in there. Her room is supposed to be a nice place. She finally has one of her own. We do not want her to be afraid of it. We are just loosing much sleep with the nightmares and all. I really appreciate it. We both thank you and will let you know how it goes.
 
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Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Tapples's response:
You can do it! You're closer than you think!!
 
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Tanyoid79 replied to Tapples's response:
Just wondering how this all worked for you? I am having these same issues with my 2 year old. I am losing my mind!


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