4 year old bedtime routine - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 09-21-2009, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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I am in serious need of help!!!! My four year old DS is a terrible sleeper, and I'm at my wit's end. He has his own room, and has been sleeping there for a year(since DS2 was born). He needs someone to lay down with him at night, and will scream and cry if no one will(normally, my mom, who lives with us, is his 'nighttime buddy'). He had a TV/DVD player in his room until tonight, when I took it out. He was falling asleep to the TV every night, and most nights, he was waking up in the middle of the night and turning it back on, and sometimes he would stay up for an hour or so and watch it. Along with the TV, every night he wakes up in the middle of the night and yells for my mom to come lay down with him. He sleeps about ten hours a night, but I'm not honestly sure how much of that he is actually asleep(with all the TV waking and stuff). It is clearly not enough sleep for him, because all.day.long he fits about everything that doesn't go his way, and is generally not a happy child at all. Even when he and I do special things together, without his brother, he is not happy. Off the issue at hand, I think he may have behavioral or emotional issues, but I'm not what to do there, either. His behavior has led to some very stressful times around here lately, and no one is sleeping-my mom especially. I'm still nursing DS2 at night, and their dad wakes up at 145am for work, and DS1 usually doesn't wake up for someone to lay down with him until around 3am. I need a routine for him. I don't know what a good bedtime is for a kid his age, I'd like him to be asleep by 9pm. He is hard to wind down at night. I just have no idea!!!!

Jess,mama to Brycenangel2.gif , Elijah, Jonaah and Josiah
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#2 of 7 Old 09-21-2009, 10:44 PM
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How old is your DS2?

Sometimes it can take a while for a new bedtime routine to be set in place... my kids used to fall asleep to the TV, but now we have a nice routine. They are all in the same room now, I lay down with the youngest (2 years old) and I sing all of them to sleep. If they wake, I tell them they can come into bed with me.

Can you DS1 do that, come into bed with you when he wakes?
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#3 of 7 Old 09-21-2009, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
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He's four. I thought about bringing him into my bed, but I'm not sure how SO will feel about that. But it's definitely something to try! Thanks mama!

Jess,mama to Brycenangel2.gif , Elijah, Jonaah and Josiah
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#4 of 7 Old 09-21-2009, 10:57 PM
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Hey Mama,

I have heard it suggested that you could begin reading chapter books aloud at this age. I hope that dd (just turned 4) will want to do this soon : ) Good luck!
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#5 of 7 Old 09-22-2009, 05:26 PM
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Last year was our year of sleep hell. Here are some things we (-we being the me in the relationship did)~
These were done when he first was put to bed.
*Started sitting in the room until he fell asleep
*Sitting in the room for a bit and then moving to the hallway (laptop was my friend) until he fell asleep
*Going straight to hallway after putting to bed, staying until he fell asleep
*Sitting in hallway and then moving to our bedroom until he fell asleep-right next to his room
*Going straight to our room after he was put to bed and staying there until he fell asleep-actually still doing this one, became a habit but no longer takes him long to fall asleep and I was DVR'd shows.

For night wakings and would only be done when he woke, which he did every night for many months-
*Rock for a bit
*Lay on floor until he falls asleep
*lay in the hallway (he can see me)
*lay in our doorway (still can see me)

I think taking the TV away was a good move. It is already a habit, so best to stop it now. But you are probably in for a month of him asking about it. Takes 30 days to break a bad habit.

I'd move his bedtime up a bit. I am assuming he isn't napping during the day. This age generally needs between 11-12 hours of sleep. So ten interrupted hours isn't cutting it.

Wife to J 9/00 Mama to K 12/05
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#6 of 7 Old 09-22-2009, 07:12 PM
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TV in the bedroom is a terrible sleep habit for anyone, but especially a little guy, so good for you for taking that away! I would imagine it would take a bit to adjust to that for him.

What we did about a year ago was sit down as a family and discuss the night-time routine (kind of a la "No Cry Sleep Solution"). DH is a decent artist, so he sketched each step, so DD could refer to them. At the time, the steps were:

1. Dinner
2. Family activity (quiet board game, drawing, etc)
3. Bath, tooth brushing, potty
4. Jammies
5. Mommy milk
6. Books
7. Bed

We never did get the Mommy milk/books thing down right, because sometimes she'd fall asleep nursing. She weaned this summer at 4, and our nighttime routine is a bit more compressed. We obviously don't have nursing, and some nights we don't get a chance to do family activity, and everything seems to go just a bit faster. What I found, though, is that this bedtime routine kept her asleep better... not perfectly, though.

I also think (and DH thinks I'm nuts for saying this), that she does better when she's got a light on. She used to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, and I swear when we stopped turning her light off it stopped.

Good luck figuring it out!

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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#7 of 7 Old 09-23-2009, 11:55 AM
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What time does he have to be awake by in the morning? Or, if he doesn't have to be anywhere in the morning, what time does he typically get up? Does that work for you? If that's an okay time, then count back 10 hours and make that the target time for having him asleep by. (Note I didn't say bedtime.)

Starting an hour or two before the time you want him to be asleep by, try to make your home a more calm and peaceful place to be. Dim a few lights; turn off the TV if you can get away with it, or at least turn down the volume. Try to focus on quieter, fine motor skill activities (playdough instead of wrestling; board games instead of hide and go seek). If you do nighttime baths (or want to try them), get that out of the way--California Baby makes a calming bubble bath solution that contains lavender. Take care of a protein snack, tooth brushing, etc. Then try reading to him while he lays in bed, or snuggles with you (or grandma) in bed. Or if he doesn't want to listen to you reading, try books on tape, or a radio playing soft music, or a white noise machine (or nature sounds).

When you figure out a routine that works for all of you, write it down/take pictures/make drawings and post it where it's easy for your DS to see and track what comes next. Kids usually thrive on predictable routines, and it sounds like your DS really needs the human companionship to fall asleep peacefully, so I'd try to honor that for now.
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