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How can I get my son (4 yrs) to fall asleep by himself?

I screwed up! I was very attached to my son as a baby and the only was he could sleep was to fall asleep with me holding him. When he got older I would let him fall asleep with me on the couch. Now he is 4 years old and he does not want to fall asleep without someone in his room with him. We have a normal bedtime routine: potty, wash face, brush teeth, read a book, but when it comes time to tuck him in he freaks out. My husband usually sits in the rocking chair in his room and waits for him to fall asleep. If my husband tries to leave the room my son starts throwing a fit-kicking and screaming. I am afraid he is going to wake up our 1 year old who is sleeping in her crib next to his room. Once he falls asleep my husband can leave the room and my son sleeps in his bed the whole night (occasional potty trip aside).
Does anyone have a successful method for getting him to fall asleep without one of us on there with him?

Answer Question

Asked by jkahat at 9:14 PM on Feb. 4, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 3 (26 Credits)
Answers (6)
  • Get the chair closer and closer to the door daily,then in the doorway,and into the hall,until one of you is no longer nearby
    He's old enough to not be still acting this way

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 9:22 PM on Feb. 4, 2013

  • butterflyblue19 is nicer than me

    Answer by feralxat at 9:30 PM on Feb. 4, 2013

  • You didn't screw up. As a non-sleeper, let me tell you what worked for me and for my son:

    Routine, NO tuck-in, no lights out. My mom let me read to myself till I fell asleep on my own. I let my son do the same thing. The one advantage I had over my mom was the timer for the lights... set for an hour and it was never a problem.

    Answer by gdiamante at 12:31 AM on Feb. 5, 2013

  • Thank you butterflyblue19 and gdiamante for answering my question. I am happy to have a few new tricks in my bag :)

    Comment by jkahat (original poster) at 12:20 PM on Feb. 5, 2013

  • I did the same thing with my daughter. What I ultimately did was sit my daughter down and talk with her about it. I asked her what she would like because she could no longer sleep with me because she was a big girl. She wanted her blankety, her stuffed dog, and her real dog in her room. I put a nightlight in the hall so she could find my room and one in the bathroom. I showed her all this and we went over what happens if you get scared? Want mommy? Or need the bathroom? It took a couple of weeks but ultimately she did fine.

    Answer by booklover545 at 3:02 PM on Feb. 5, 2013

  • I agree, you did not screw up. We live + learn. Sometimes your instincts are right. Our DS just turned 5. We still do 3 books, lights out, and a song at bedtime. He rarely goes to sleep alone - only if he is still awake after the song and I go to "brush my teeth." I was just wondering if maybe it's time to talk with him like jkahat and her daughter, but we're such creatures of habit. We have an 8 month old girl and are trying to be more proactive with sleep training this time. You say you also have a 1 year old - how is her nighttime sleep routine? Maybe you can allow the baby's sleep routine to be a teaching tool for the older child - that's what I'm trying to do. A "big brother" perspective might help. Also, it might be nice to make a beautiful painting of him going to sleep alone and leave spaces in the night sky for star stickers . . . and when all of the stars are earned he gets some cool toy he wants!

    Answer by hvmom at 10:20 PM on Feb. 10, 2013

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