Sunday, October 31, 2010

Child crying at bedtime

Questioner: Bronwyn

Subject: bedtime resistance

You mentioned it was not uncommon, to watch sleeping/nap habits and to bring bed time back a bit. T*****. 20 months recently started crying at bed time. I walk out of her room, return in 5 mins, she stops crying when she sees me, i lay her down. she immediately rolls over, stands up and starts crying again. I go out, wait 10 mins, go back in and put her in the laying position again etc.

It could be like this for an hour. She has always been a good sleeper. She has one nap during the day between 1 and 3 hours. When you say bring bed time back, what is too much? If her usual bedtime is 8-8.30, is 9.30 - 10pm too late when she has to be woken around 7am? i don't want to get into the habit of allowing her to stay up later and later. It's not good for her and definitely not good for me.

 Do you have any other suggestions or am i doing the right thing so far?

Answer: Dear Bronwyn:

You may not like my answer and there are plenty of professionals who disagree with my philosophy. When a child cries they are trying to tell you something. When they are being manipulative they are trying to meet a need or a want or a desire. I see nothing wrong with this as they are little and vulnerable and we are in charge of meeting those needs until they can meet them on their own.

Before school age (and on occasions after school age, depending upon the circumstances) I believe children become fearful at bedtime because of their brain development or lack of it. They often are not capable of talking themselves out of a fear response to a shadow or misperception of their enviroment. Also, young children do not get to spend the time with their parents that children from many years ago did. They often spend their days at daycare or out of the home. It is NORMAL and NATURAL for young children to want to be with their parents.

Having said this I think we need to spend more time with our children before bedtime. I don't remember saying anyone should put their child to bed late. What I believe I said was that schedules and routines are two different concepts.

If you normally put her to bed at 8:30 then begin the routine at say 7:30. Turn down the lights, the noise etc....calm down the environment first. Then bath time, reading time and a massage should do the trick. If not consider lying down with her until she falls asleep.

We live in an adult world where we are expected to bring out children to an adult level rather than meeting them in their world. I do not agree!

If adults like to sleep next to someone at night for reassurance or to feel loved what right does anyone have to expect a small vulnerable child to take care of themself??? The reason they are little and given to us is so we can meet their needs until they are old enough to meet those needs themselves. Unfortunately parents are being guided to push children to early into meeting their own needs and seperating their children from themselves much sooner than I believe is beneficial to the child. (Not all research is created equally and free of bias and not all professionals have the best interest of your child at heart!).

Listen to your heart. If she needs a few more minutes of your time before she goes to sleep who is this hurting. I know of no studies that say children who sleep with their parents or whose parent lied down with them at night until they went to sleep ended up not graduating from college or not being successful in life. I do know a lot of parents who would give anything to go back and spend their time differently with their now grown up children had they not listened to so many "experts" many years ago!

Feel free to give me a call if you have more questions.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller