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How do I get my 3, almost 4 yr old to sleep thru the night w/out assistance?

Our almost 4 yr old has always been a poor sleeper and we are struggling with issues again right now. He wakes up in the middle of the night, as everyone does, but he needs someone to lay down with him or sit with him to fall back to sleep. We are trying to figure out a way to work with him to learn to fall back to sleep on his own. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

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Asked by Seansmom1003 at 7:32 PM on Aug. 9, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 2 (11 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • to teach him to fall asleep on his own, you're gonna have to stop sitting or laying with him.

    Answer by DarkFaery131 at 7:33 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • exactly what darkfaery said, you let him know that you love him and are just a room away. then put him in bed and kiss him goodnight. he'll only cry for awhile.

    Answer by angevil53 at 7:35 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • How do you know he needs someone to sit with him? Because you're doing that? If you're doing that, he won't go back to sleep on his own. You need to put him back to bed and leave him on his own.

    Answer by aliceinalgonac at 7:35 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • Be firm, if there is no underlying issue then you need to brake him of his habit. We struggles with our youngest. She is strong willed but so are we. We had to put ger back in bed over and over. If you decide to end it don't back down.

    Answer by koon293 at 7:46 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • Woa! I flatly disagree with all 3 answers above so far! If you leave a child to cry himself to sleep, you will be setting up bad sleep associations that will possibly affect him for the rest of his life. Please refer to Dr. Sears' book, Nighttime Parenting. What you are doing is OKAY! My son is 3 and 1/2 also, and we still co-sleep. Children will sleep on their own in their own time. He will not be doing this forever! Set him on the right path now by letting him know that it is okay to wake up, and it is okay not to be able to go back to sleep right away, and it is okay for him to sleep with you. Put him in your bed, and when he falls asleep, carry him back to his own room. If you both fall asleep, then fine, sleep away til morning! Don't leave him to cry alone, or it will get worse. He will mature in his own time frame, and there will come a time when he will NOT WANT to sleep with you! Trust his instinct as well as your own.

    Answer by Kathy489 at 7:55 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • Well since he is older, ask him why he wakes up. Is something scaring him? Like a noise or it's too dark in his room? My DS is 3 1/2 and he is scared of birds chirping. I mean terrified.

    There has to be a reason he wakes up and the best thing to do is identify it and fix that :) Good luck!

    Answer by tangleballlover at 8:10 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • Thanks for all the answers! I understand that in order to get him to sleep on our own, we have to stop laying down with him, that is what we are already doing. We are just trying to find a good way to transition without having tears and frustration in the middle of the night, I am not a supporter of "crying it out." We are planning to sit next to him until he falls asleep for a few days, then move to the doorway of his room for a few nights then to the hallway for a few nights. Our hopes our that after a week or two of doing this he will have adjusted to falling back to sleep on his own which he did at one time.

    Comment by Seansmom1003 (original poster) at 8:31 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • I really think that spending time with a child until they don't need you is best. My son was always a pretty good sleeper, but on the nights where he was having trouble I stayed with him until he was OK with me leaving the room. Kids need to know that their parents will be there when they need them, and are not capable of being "manipulative" at that young of an age. Just do what feels right and keeps your child happy and feeling secure.

    Answer by KTMOM at 9:37 PM on Aug. 9, 2010

  • The first posters have it, children need to learn to self-comfort. Not without support, of course, which is why you reassure him and put him back to bed with hugs and kisses the first time. But yes, children that young (and younger) are completely capable of manipulating behaviors - and even if it's not manipulation, it's not a good habit. He needs to be able to sleep through the night on his own. Nearly 4 years old is plenty old enough to learn good sleep habits.
    It's really good that you've stepped back from the "laying down" with him. As they said, if you continue to do that, he'll expect it and rely on it. Hang in there, you're doing fine!

    Answer by missingruth at 8:25 AM on Aug. 10, 2010

  • Each of my 3 daughters tried this at one time or another. The moms who say "put him back to bed" on his own are right. Children need to be taught - they need to be helped to develop good nighttime habits! Good luck!

    Answer by caseyandkids at 10:47 AM on Aug. 10, 2010

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