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How can i teach my 3-year old to fall asleep on his own?

My 3-year old son can not or will not fall asleep on his own. Either my husband or I have to lay down next to him. We read books, turn the light off and then have to lay next to him and on average it takes him 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. This is driving me crazy but I am not sure how to change this. Every time I try explaining how "big" boys fall asleep on their own and he just makes this really sad face and tell me that he is not a big boy yet and needs his mommy.

I need ideas that do not involve locking him in his room or letting him cry until he vomits. :-)




Asked by ves2506 at 4:03 PM on Apr. 15, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (5)
  • My DD used to have no problem falling asleep on her own. Then recently, she'd come out of her room 10 minutes after putting her to bed and say that she couldnt fall asleep. This all ENDED when she got a hand-me-down ipod - we put her music on it and she listens to it until she falls asleep. Last night she even kicked my DH out of her room when he was doing her bedtime puppet show ritual so she could listen to her music. It's been a complete God-sent!
    There's a cute ipod-like device especially for preschoolers which also has stories as well as songs. Good luck :)

    Answer by MaysonsMommy805 at 11:17 AM on Apr. 16, 2009

  • I don't have any great answers, because I am in the same exact spot with my 3 year old son. I have read so much on it and I still don't feel like anything works. I have read "Raising your Spirited Child" and "Parenting with Love and Logic".....they both have good things to say. We used to lock him in his room and let him cry until he vomitted, but that just got to heartbreaking. So, what we are doing now is just giving him options. We make it his responsiblity to go to sleep or not. We do a good night time routine to try to get him to calm down. Then we say, "Would you like to sleep with the door opened or closed?" and of course the answer is open. Then if they come out, you say, "uh oh I am so sorry, you can't come out of your room it's bed time. Now would you like the door locked or unlocked?" and the answer is unlocked. And if they come out again, you have to lock it, but I still have not had to do this yet....

    Answer by Butrfly777 at 4:31 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • because the threat of having the door locked makes him stay in the room. But he usually falls asleep in the door way, which is his choice....and we usually move him to his bed. The next morning if he complains of being tired, I would say something like "I usually am tired also when I don't sleep in my bed.....or when I don't go get enough sleep." Like I said, this hasn't been perfect and he still hasn't fallen asleep in his own bed yet, but it's only been a week since we started this. So, we will see how it goes.

    Answer by Butrfly777 at 4:34 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • Try doing a reward system. Have him help make you a chart, and give him a sticker for every night that he falls asleep on his own. if he gets a weeks worth of stickers he gets a fun prize, like going out for ice cream or something. Not that I'm a big fan of bribery, but a system like this could be a good way of dealing with it. you could also go to the store and have him pick out a bedtime buddy- a stuffed animal or something that he knows he can sleep with when mommy and daddy arent around. Either way, you've got to get him to a point where he'll fall asleep on his own. I'm a big fan of letting them cry it out, as the first nights the worst, but every night after that gets better. (ONLY IF YOU'RE CONSISTENT! THE MORE YOU TALK TO HIM, THE MORE ATTENTION HE'S GETTING AND THE BEHAVIOR WILL CONTINUE.) but if you dont want to try the cry it out method, try the reward system.

    Answer by jenni6441 at 6:02 PM on Apr. 15, 2009

  • Try bed time a half hour later?

    Answer by apexmommy at 10:28 PM on Apr. 15, 2009