Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parents having problems getting toddler to bed

Hi Christina, We always had problems with “sleeping”. Since he was little baby and we ended up with co-sleeping. Only recently we got him to sleep in him own bed, (even if still in our room) and I think we succeeded because his brother sleeps in his own bed… In the evening after dinner we sit altogether in front of tv and watch a film for the older one. Actually we practically watch only his films…. At a certain point we prepare him, put pajama on, wash teeth and ask him to go to bed…(this is around 21h00/21h30) And then begins the struggle….You can be sure, that even if he is exhausted he won’t sleep…Till everybody is not in bed he won’t be quiet…he runs around, he gets off the bed, he goes in the bathroom and eats toothpaste…The first 5/6 time my husband and I, we are calm, but after 2 hours of repeating we go crazy… I think he wants us at bed with him. I do understand that he doesn’t want to be alone and he wants to play…but my husband and I need also some time just for the 2 of us…maybe we had to impose it earlier…but what to do now?

Ah yes! It’s a delicate balance really, as we all need the shut off point, when our children are asleep and we can stop, spend time with our partners and ourselves and feel whole again. All my children have resisted bedtime at some point, or woken up after being asleep to find me again. However, I’ve learnt a few things along the way that may be of interest.
First, I’ve noticed that the more important it is to me that they go to sleep early, whether it’s because I feel I have to get something done, or I want some time with my husband, or I’m just tired myself, the more I push the more they resist. Drifting to sleep is a process of energy, it is when we connect with our spiritual selves for the night, and therefore how our children feel before sleep, both within themselves and around themselves, effects the process of getting to sleep. Whenever I’ve been in a place of worry or frustration that they won’t get to sleep, the longer it takes for them to drift.
Therefore, I would allow it to be a process over a few weeks to get your son peacefully to bed, rather than expect instant results.
I couldn’t tell by your message whether you lie down with him to put him to sleep or whether you put him in bed for him to put himself to sleep. I have found that lying down with children, actually calming them down, drawing with my finger a picture on their back, walking them through a visualization (my daughter use to love to go to sleep hearing about a garden that she walked into, we would describe the flowers, pick some fruit, there was a pet donkey, and then she would sit under a tree for a picnic, which was the sign it was time to sleep). I have then sang them to sleep with a lullaby, often tracing my finger across their third eye, just between the eyes, and letting it gently move down their nose. What I’m trying to say I guess is the wind down is about a feeling space, it’s an energy wind down, that will soon have them relaxed and drifting, happily.
Once my daughters became passionate readers I found that I missed putting them to sleep as it was a special time between the two of us. We spoke slower at bedtime, quieter and it was always a time that they could ask questions and express concerns. Even now they are older, I have had all my important conversations with them at bedtime, and on those occasions, I’ve had to let the early nights go, just for the perfect timing of it all.
I know I've suggested watching a movie as good bonding time in the past, but after hearing about his behavior for bedtime, maybe this was the wrong suggestion. For some electronic devices can make them full of energy and highly strung. Perhaps the special time could be taken to the bedroom, with you or your husband reading him a story, slowing things down, singing to him, and putting him to sleep together? You could even make it earlier so that you have more time together after.
We are often told that when we start something with our children there’s no going back and we have to push them to grow up. From co-sleeping, your son is now going to sleep in his own bed, that’s fantastic. but sometimes it’s a 2 step forward, 1 step back motion. He may need the security of feeling you close to him at night sometimes, or simply before going to sleep. I find that although bedtime is usually seen as a routine that should be able to be relied on, in truth it’s an each night, for its own night. Setting the mood, the energy, calming the house down, and letting our children take part in the idea of slowing life down so it makes room for quiet stories, cuddles, looking at stars, relaxing into the magic around them, and then finally drifting off to sleep.
Therefore, create bedtime as a special quality time, so your son enjoys it and you enjoy it too, maybe your husband can get in on the calming space as well, so you can let the three of you relax in each other’s company. By doing so, you won’t be pushing against him being awake, and him sensing you really want him to sleep, and by releasing the pushing, you will allow it, and he will get to sleep all the faster.

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