My clients often tell me how hard it is to get their kids to go to sleep on their own. While there have been numerous of books written on all formats of sleep training, I don't plan to use this blog to opine on the pros and cons of each method. Instead, I'm offering you a "quick fix" to improve the way you leave them when it's time for them to sleep. So often, parents stay until their child falls asleep - I suggest an alternate route. I call this "exiting ritual." Many of my clients have found this to be an easy fix and I hope you do too...and don't forget to let me know what you think!
- After child gets into bed, rub his back for a few minutes
- Turn on the night light and tell him what you're doing as you perform each step
- Hand him his blankie or whatever cuddly toy he typically holds at night and turn on some soft music
- Lean into the bed or crib and give him a hug and a kiss
- Continue to verbalize what you are doing by saying, "It's night time now. I'm going to brush my teeth, wash my face and change into my pajamas - just like you. If you stay in your bed, I'll come back for a few more cuddles, but you have to stay in your bed since it is time for sleep.
- Leave the room and close the door behind you. Then....
- If he stays in bed for 60 seconds, then open the door and positively reinforce the behavior by saying, "See, you stayed in bed and I came back in for a few more cuddles." (Then cuddle a little.) Then say, "Now I have to go finish washing my face and getting ready for bed, but if you stay in your own bed, I will come back one more time."
If your child gets up during the night, repeat the above steps until he stays in his bed.
Let me know how this works for you. I used it on my three girls and it worked like a charm!