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controlled crying at bedtime with an almost-3-year-old?

I've tried every loving solution in the book. Each thing seems to make her resistance to sleep worse. She used to go to bed with no complaints and sleep through the night. Now it's like she has trained herself to hate it... We used to do fine letting her fuss for a few minutes if she woke in the night and she'd put herself right back to sleep. Well, because she started mentioning being "worried" we've been more reluctant to just leave her there, thinking it's new fears and anxieties... everything we do to try to make her sleep environment more comfortable seems to make desperate for something more; every moment we spend reassuring her after lights out seems to make her more starved for our attention, more afraid of us leaving... I feel like we've somehow created a monster. A friend has suggested we do the controlled crying thing some people do with infants -- which I have NOT had to do with my babies. Would you try it?

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:11 PM on Jan. 28, 2010 in General Parenting

Answers (3)
  • If it's just attention, then yes - I would make sure she had what she needed and then let her cry. My daughter started being afraid of "monsters" around this age, so I gave her a spray bottle with "magic monster go away spray" inside (water). When she thought she saw/heard a monster, she could spray it away. But when it was just attention, yeah I let her fuss.

    Answer by missanc at 1:18 PM on Jan. 28, 2010

  • OP here: That's been my problem since the beginning of these episodes... so hard to tell if it's actually fear or if it's attention. She's using the words "scared," "worried," but then she's also saying things like, "play with me, I don't want to go to sleep"... if I didn't know any better, I'd say the smart girl somehow figured out it's developmentally appropriate to be afraid right now and so she's faking it. But of course that's not possible. I just don't know if we gave too much attention to the fears thing... like we reinforced it, so now she's USING that, or what. It just feels like an attention things so much of the time, but I would feel like SUCH an awful mother if I were calling it attention when she really was genuinely afraid. We made a "no monsters" sign for her door, I showed her how to "shoo" off a pretend monster if she thought she saw one... but so much of it comes down to just wanting our company.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:35 PM on Jan. 28, 2010

  • It sounds like what my son did at bedtime. He would say he was too scared, which broke my heart to give him a hug and leave his room but there was more of the "one more story" or "I'm thristy". I used to do that to my parents. I think it's attention seeking. What I started doing was a story, hug and kiss, and go into the living room. I leave his closet light on so he has at least some light and knows there are no monsters. The spray bottle idea in the first answer sounds good too. You're not an awful mother. Bedtime can be so hard to deal with.

    Answer by wildflowers25 at 1:48 PM on Jan. 28, 2010

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