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Bedtime dramas for 3 1/2 yr old.

PostPosted: Thu 07 Mar, 2013 8:49 pm
by Aidynsmum
My son is 3 1/2 and has always been a great sleeper. He normally goes to bed around 7-7:30pm and sleeps until around 7am. He does not have a day sleep, and hasn't done so for some time. The last 5 nights have seen him up & down stairs and not sleeping until after 9pm. Of course this means he is sleeping longer in the morning. He goes to bed at the same time as his brother (7yrs), usually this is not a problem. Master 3 now disturbs Master 7 trying to sleep, going into his room.
Please tell me how I can get Master 3 back into his normal sleep routine?

Re: Bedtime dramas for 3 1/2 yr old.

PostPosted: Sat 09 Mar, 2013 3:41 pm
by NgalaOnline
Hi Aidynsmum

Thank you for your post. It sounds as though your son does have good sleep skills and abilities to settle himself, but for some reason is going through a phase of resisting sleep in the evening at the moment. Although it is tempting to let him sleep later in the morning to recover this lost sleep, many parents find that allowing their child to sleep in in the morning can perpetuate the evening wakefulness. Waking him at his usual time of around 7am is likely to be helpful, even if it means persisting with afternoon grumpiness for a few days.

Having a predictable calming routine prior to going to bed is helpful for many children, such as bath, teeth, bedtime story in the child's bedroom, then sleep. Studies have also suggested that watching TV or using electronics close to bedtime can stimulate a child's brain and make them more wakeful in the evenings. It may be helpful to discuss with your child whether there is anything that is frightening him or concerning him about sleeping that you may be able to provide reassurance about? Around 3.5 years of age children are often developing a very active imagination and fears and phobias are often part of this. It can be helpful to explore whether your child's sleep resistance followed any change of family routine, nightmares or exposure to anything that scared him? You may be able to discuss any fears with your son, and sometimes a night light or a teddy bear can provide a comfort or reassurance. It can also help your child to explain that you are nearby. Some children are reassured by hearing their parents nearby, so it could be beneficial to conduct your evening activities near his room where he can hear you and be reassured you are nearby. Discussing night time expectations and rules during the day with your son can help, and then briefly reiterating these when he goes to bed. If he exits the room it is helpful to patiently and calmly return him to his room as soon as he comes out, as many times as required. It is best not to enter discussion at this time with the child other than a verbal cue such as "bedtime". Sometimes children may be responding to the fact that they have less time than usual with their parents (such as if their parent's working time has increased or the child has started kindy) and are therefore wanting to stay up later with their parents. Having some special quality time in the evening with the child can help this issue.

If your other child is being disturbed it may be best if you can sit near your boys bedrooms for several nights to stop your younger child being able to enter his brothers room. Explaining at a time of no conflict (such as before settling time) that he is not allowed to go in and disturb his brother may help, and explaining to your older child that he does not need to worry about his brother if he hears him awake may also help. It is common for children to have periods of increased difficulty settling at night, and maintaining a consistent approach to this usually means that the settling will return to usual. I hope that this information has been helpful. Please ring Ngala if you would like more help or information.