One of the problems many parents complain about is sleep training at night. As a parent at your wit’s end, you’re exhausted but you’re entertaining a toddler or preschooler who seems to have endless energy. Now, you can do more than just yell, “Go To Bed!” After all, no one made this statement more famous than Samuel L. Jackson while narrating the adult bedtime book, “Go The F**k To Sleep!”
If you’re like most parents, you’ve tried everything to create a cozy bedtime routine including reading books, rubbing backs, and even using night lights but your child still screams for you. Here are some of the worst and best things you can do when sleep training your child.
Worst Things A Parent Can Do When Sleep Training
Avoid Laying In Your Child’s Bed
There are several reasons to avoid doing this. First, you are likely to fall asleep there. You’re more exhausted than your child. And secondly, children like the comfortable feeling of one of their parents next to them. But most importantly, you do not want to normalize that it’s okay for an adult to be in their bed.
Create Your Routine And Walk Away
Most bedtime routines are at the same time every night. Your child is clean, you read an age-appropriate bedtime story, kiss, hug, and tuck your child into bed. You may even give your child a few back rubs, turn down or turn off the lights, walk away, and shut their door. If your child is screaming for you after you have shut the door, the worst thing that you can do is to walk back into the room. Use a baby monitor to keep an eye on your child. Their bedroom should be child-proofed to eliminate any concern of injuries. If you must go into their room, wait until there is a break in-between their screams and then enter. Entering the room while your child is screaming reinforces that screaming works and your child will continue doing it in the future. Say to your child, “I came back because I saw that you are quiet now. Is there a problem?” Remind the child that we only scream if we’re hurt or if someone is hurting us. Comfort your child by letting them know they are safe and reassure them that you will be watching on the monitor and/or waiting outside of their door for them to fall asleep.
Don’t Allow Your Child To Watch Videos On Your Phone, Tablet, Or Television
Research has shown that screen time before bedtime stimulates the brain (Mayo Clinic). Just as you should avoid giving your child sugary treats and caffeine before bedtime, avoid screens and electronic devices.
Don’t Allow Your Child To Sleep In Your Bed
Don’t allow them into your bedroom at night. This is a difficult habit to break once you start it. Avoid it at all costs.
Say “No” To Stalling
If your child wants a drink of water, say “no.” Not consuming liquids after a certain time will reduce nighttime accidents. Avoid stalling tactics like going to the bathroom by making that part of your routine before bathtime.
Things A Parent Can Do When Sleep Training
Help Your Child To Feel Safe
Many young children are afraid of the dark or the monsters under the bed. As a parent, it is imperative to do what you can to make your child feel safe. You can do this by reassuring them each night, checking under the bed and in the closet for them, making sure the closet door is completely shut, and even providing a flashlight designed specifically for children that becomes their ‘monster zapper.’
Utilize Sound Machines For Screamers
If your child is a screamer and you’re afraid that they will wake your other children, use one sound machine that plays white noise inside of their room and another sound machine outside of the door of their room with white noise. That’s two sound machines. Turn the volume of the one outside of their room all the way up. If necessary, add sound machines to the other children’s rooms too. That will drown out the screaming. You may also use a shusher to help an infant fall asleep. When a child screams constantly at night, it’s because this screaming tactic works. It is a learned behavior. Ignore the screaming and watch the child on the baby monitor to ensure they are safe. You will know that your child is on their way to sleep once the pauses between the cries and screams get further apart. Consistency is key here. The screaming will become less and less each night.
Quiet Time Works Too
If your child absolutely refuses to go to sleep, compromise by allowing them to have quiet time in their bed with the lights on or down low, eventually they will fall asleep and you will have some peace. If you use smart lights, you can turn them off from your mobile phone once you know your child is asleep. The saying is, “pick your battles.”
Do not follow these rules if your child is ill. Let us know what works for your child’s nighttime routine by leaving a comment below.