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Old 01-19-2007, 06:31 PM   #1
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Red face My 3 year old won't sleep!

I need help!! My son will be 3 in 3 weeks. He has never been a good sleeper. Every night at bedtime, he acts like it's the first time he's ever done it. We have a routine - bath, books then bed. And every night, once the books are done, we kiss him, put him to bed and go in the other room (pretty close to where he is).

Then starts the 5 potty trips in 5 minutes, constantly jumping out of bed, getting out of bed and getting books and reading them all night, crying about monsters when all else fails. He has absolute meltdowns, screaming and crying. Not only won't he stay in bed, a lot of the time, he won't stay in his room! We've even tried the old "Pick him up and wordlessly put him back in bed over and over again," but honestly, when we have to do that literally 25 times in an hour, it gets really old. There must be a better way. We have him in bed by 8 and most nights we are thrilled if he's asleep at 10. It is getting out of control. I mean, he's THREE. He should have figured it out a little bit right now.

We have tried: taking toys out of his room, putting the child gate up to keep him in the room, closing the door (like the Ferber method - he's in a toddler bed), leaving a very dim light on, general begging, etc.

I have threatened him with the baby crib, telling him daddy is going to get it out and put it up. But I probablly shouldn't have, because we have another baby coming in about 10 weeks who will be using that crib before too long anyway. Plus, I think he is too old for that and should just learn how to sleep in bed.

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Old 01-19-2007, 08:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

It sounds like your doing everything that's meant to be done. the only other things I can suggest is what I used to call 'crazy time'. Taking the kids in the back yard and basically running them up and down with frantic games for a while to burn of energy. I didn't do that til they were a bit older but maybe something similar would work?
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Old 01-20-2007, 07:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

Gosh ~ I am so sorry you are having such a hard time at bed time. I can feel for you. Hmmmmmmm.....let's see, it sounds like you have tried everything. Does he still take naps during the day? If he does and he would tolerate not napping during the day ~ maybe he would be more tired at night when it is time for bed. I am sorry I can't be of much more help and give more advice....I wish you lots of luck and wanted to give you a big (((hugs))).
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

I wonder if he's grown out of his afternoon nap? I know some children do that when they get close to 3. He doesn't get really cranky if he doesn't have one - heaven knows he hasn't since I've started staying home with him the last week. Maybe that's the problem.

But I really hope not!! I don't know how I will manage that with a newborn in a couple of months. I count on that nap for my sanity!
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Old 01-22-2007, 05:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

Sorry to say this but it seems likely he's outgrown his nap. Both of my children stopped napping when they were somewhere around two and a half. Boy did I miss that time! But I found out pretty quickly that if I tried to force a nap it was a power struggle AND they wouldn't sleep at night.
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Old 02-04-2007, 12:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

I know how you feel, and those times are so rough, I agree with the poster above me, they most likely dod out grow the napping stage, and that was the best.
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Old 02-04-2007, 09:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

Right off, there's a couple of things I can think of.

First of all, whatever you do, be consistent. It sounds like over the years he's worn you down, and he knows he just needs to keep trying and he'll be able to outlast you.

How does he react normally when he doesn't get his way? Is it just a sleep problem, or does he in general work this hard to get his way in most things?

My sister had two sons who had sleep problems until they were quite a bit older than your son. One night I was at her house and witnessed her struggle (and they were around 6 and 7.) I asked her to come up with something important to them. In this case, it was the nightlite. I told her to tell them if she heard them talking/playing/yelling or whatever else, she would take the nightlite and they wouldn't get it back until they were quiet for five minutes.

It worked like a charm. They were pretty upset at first when she had to take it away, but when they realized she wasn't going to give in and the only way to get it back was under their control, that they could get it back a lot quicker by behaving, they behaved. In fact, once they decided to settle down, one of them fell asleep in five minutes.

If you do this, I'd suggest a shorter time because your son is so young. You also have to absolutely not let him out of his room during that time, whether that means a gate or door or whatever. You have to ignore him, and when he's quiet for a brief moment loudly set a timer so he knows that he only has a short while more to be quiet...but if he starts in again, turn it off. Restart when he's quiet. Just be prepared for wailing and screaming at first.

But you can't do this unless you're prepared not to give in, and it sounds like he's got the art of wearing you down, so he's learned to just keep doing what he wants and you'll give in. Because of that, reward might be a more effective tool.

It can be done in a variety of ways, but here's an example. Tell him he's big enough now to behave, and you're going to help him learn to sleep like a big boy Take him shopping, let hiim pick out some small items and a few large ones that he just loves, but don't buy them. (Tell him ahead of time what you're doing so that he doesn't expect you to buy just then.) Write what he wants on a list.

Then work with the star chart, or whatever else you want to do to show earnings. The two of you can assign the number of stars he needs to earn an item, with, of course, the larger items needing more stars.

Then he earns stars whenever he lays quietly in bed for a predetermined number of minutes. He earns extra if he falls asleep by 8:30. So if he's quiet for five minutes, for example, he can earn a star. If you do five minutes per star, he can earn 6 in 1/2 hour...but maybe you'll want to offer an additional 10 if he's actually asleep within the half hour.

Save his favorite gift. He gets that when he's been in bed with no fuss and asleep by 8:30 for seven days in a row. (And if he's quiet for 1/2 hour but not asleep, he's not tired. Make his bedtime later. He really should be asleep within about 15 minutes if he's just laying there.) Then he will have proven himself. Sporadic rewards after that might be needed for awhile, especially when he has a new sibling to compete with.

Place the stars on a chart and let him decide which gifts he's working for, though initially he should get some small items just to keep him motivated. When he does well, always emphasize the "big boy" thing.

Timers are always good. You want him to be able to see how little time is left.

As the others have said, if he's still napping, maybe he doesn't need to anymore. Another piece of good advice was from the one who said that keeping him active earlier might help him be tired...but you don't want him overtired. (In other words, if he's not napping now, maybe a short rest period early in the day is a good idea, even if he doesn't sleep. Maybe he's just so overtired at bedtime that he's hyper.)

I should add, though, that it is possible that he's more of a night owl. My daughter never went to bed until around 9:00, and she always went to bed well. Don't worry that you'll ever have to extend this much. Now she's 14, and she stays up until 9:30 on school nights.

When you go into the nearby room, is it a bedroom or living room? If he thinks you're going to bed, too, he might be afraid that you'll be asleep before him. Sometimes kids want to know they are not the only ones awake. If you'r going into a bedroom, change your routine and go to the living room.

If it's fear that's doing this, this is another approach I've taken that works well...tell him that if he's quiet, you promise you'll be back in two minutes to check on him. When you check, just make it a quick in-and-out, but enough for a quick kiss is fine. Then tell him you'll be back in two more. After that maybe three more, etc., not unlike the ferber method. The difference is that you'll tell him outright that you're checking on him to make sure he's O.K. When kids are scared, this method usually works well because they can tolerate their fears for a couple of minutes.

Good luck. When your new little one is born you'll have enough sleep deprivation. I'm afraid that when you're up nights with the baby, your son will be right there with you. I hope not. I hope you have this resolved soon.
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Old 02-05-2007, 07:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

I don't think there is much I can add after the above post, but I do feel for you. My kids going to sleep is the most quiet time of the night, and if it didn't go well I would be a basketcase.
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Old 02-09-2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

YOu might try changing his diet at dinner time. Even though little ones are tired, sometimes a particuar food will stimulate them. You might try cutting back on his starches at dinner time and adding more protein will slow him down just enough to get him drowsy!
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Old 03-24-2007, 06:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: My 3 year old won't sleep!

We've had same problem with my youngest sister before. We actually consulted a doctor about this. We really had a HARD time making her sleep. We would play anything for her to get tired but it did not worked.

The doctor said to off the lights when making her sleep or use dim light when telling her a story. This actually worked for her. Now she gets used to it. Every time the lights are turned off, she would go to bed and ask for a story.
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