My son is 5 and he has been having such trouble with going to sleep. He will only go to sleep if I sit there on his bed and wait until he has fully fallen asleep. I read a story to him or just talk with him and then kiss him good night and go to leave and he just starts crying... I dont know what to do. We put his younger brother in his room, which he asked for and he has 2 night lights on too. He wants to sleep in our bed every night. I dont do it because I am afraid to start a really bad habit. I just dont know what to do to get him to fall asleep without such trouble. He will not tell me why he gets so upset. I ask him and he says that he does not know.. I feel terrible about it but maybe I am being too harsh and should just wait there until he does fall asleep. I just dont know what to do.. He is starting kindergarten this September and I want him to have a healthy sleep and be ready for school when the time comes.. Anyone have any suggestions?
thank you Barbara
Dear Barbara, I can relate to your dilemma. I have had the same one but my child is 11! (her name is Naomi) It has been a steep learning curve for me! We went through months of tears at bedtime, night lights, knocks on my bedroom door in the night, general insecurity and irrational fears for no apparent reason.
Five years old is very young, and many children much older than that feel insecure or fearful at night for no apparent reason. I have come to see that MY attitude influences my daughter and her behaviour. I would feel guilty and confused when she cried, and see myself as being "too harsh" if I insisted she stayed in her bed and went to sleep without any fuss.
Eventually a good friend suggested I might be contributing to the problem rather than enabling my daughter to overcome her fears and insecurities. Only a good friend can be that honest! I am blessed!
I bought some good quality children's audio tapes and a player for them. I gave them to my daughter as a gift and she was delighted. She started to listen to them after I tucked her in and would easily fall asleep listening to them (very quietly).
Sometimes she would still express fear about nothing in particular. I talked to her (she is 11 remember, I don't recommend this for a five year old) about her fears, reassured her and gave her ideas for dealing with her feelings herself. Rather than crying and feeling sorry for herself or being scared, she is allowed to get up and make herself a glass of milk and a cookie or listen to her tapes.
This has worked as I have seen and understood that it is the only loving thing to do. We must extend our children emotionally, and we must do it lovingly without guilt.
Now I can see that what I saw as "too harsh" was in fact loving kindness, helping her to manage her feelings and overcome her fears. My own confusion and guilt had only increased her own fear and confusion, and I had to be the one to change first!
I hope this makes sense Barbara? Once I convinced myself I was a loving mommy who wanted what was best for my child, I was able to be firm and unwavering about the behaviour and my response to it.
Children need firm loving guidance more than sympathy and fussing.
Try the tape/cd player idea if it appeals to you. Even music might do the trick. Whatever is peaceful and sleep inducing! Once he can read to himself a whole new world will open up to him.
Go through the bedtime routine and firmly say good night and switch the tape/music on very quietly. I can almost guarantee he will be asleep in no time and then it's only a matter of time before he forgets about the tape/cd and goes to sleep easier or later reads himself to sleep.
Break the cycle and be firm but loving. No sympathy, no guilt. Just do what's best for him.
Naomi now puts herself to bed and reads for a while before going to sleep. Before she could change, I had to.
Know you are a kind loving mommy and be firm. Your son can only benefit long term.