Saturday, March 19, 2011

Daughter Screaming At Night

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Politeness

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Comment: I appreciate your detailed advice and I hope to put these "techniques" into effect ASAP. Your assistance came highly recommended and I am very happy I went with it. Thank you.
Question: I am a father of a beautiful 2 and 1/2 Year old girl. Without being too proud, she is extremely well spoken and seems to be advanced in comprehension as well. She has been a very mellow child until a few weeks ago, which is what I am leading up to.

I wanted to mention her speech and comprehension because I understand that these things at such a young age can encourage frustration. So, we have always rocked her to sleep and still do, which I think we may need to ween her off of. Recently, the rocking does not put her to sleep and when we lay her in the crib, she screams as loud as she can until we come back in the room. She stops as soon as the door opens and acts normal, so I suspect it is an attention thing.

We have a routine of bath, story time, and rocking that we've done since birth, but suddenly she started this screaming and it's becoming very frustrating as to what is the right thing to do. She also has been doing the same thing at 3 or 4 in the morning and when she wakes up for the day. Also, she recently started crying when my wife drops her off at day care (only twice a week) which again, has been fine up until recently.

Sorry for the lengthy description, but I wondered if you had any suggestions.


Answer: Dear Theodore:

It sounds like you may need to adjust your perspective of your daughter. She is obviously advanced and rocking her to sleep is something which works well with babies and toddlers. Most preschoolers are not as impressed with rocking. You said it is not working and what I would like you to learn is to take your cues from her. If it isn't working then STOP.

The routine of bathing is a good place to a start. As a bathe before bedtime will actually bring down the body temperature. No one sleeps well when they are too warm. Check to see if she is being dressed in a outfit which does not allow her room to wiggle or is to hot. Also, is there a reason she is still in a crib?

Next, adjust your idea that she shouldn't be crying or something is wrong. If you don't then you can inadvertently be reinforcing this behavior. Simply tell her you will listen when she uses her words and IGNORE the acting out behavior.

Children cry. Then they learn it isn't productive. It goes away when we learn not to respond to it. Until then she will do what gets your attention. You decide what gets your attention, her words or her cries.

Bedtime routines and routines in general are essential to emotional health of a child. Children have no sense of time and don't even tell time until they are well into elementary school.

Her day needs to be structured for her routines. Not the same as a schedule. Schedules are based upon time. Routines are processes...we do this and then this and then this....etc. Children take their cues in routines from the sequences. If there are no sequences they become insecure.

As for bedtime routines. Besides a bath check the environment is it noisy or conducive to sleep? Also, my daughter has a great CD which she found at the music store that has heartbeats and the rhythms of nature in the background. It is so effective it knocks me out as fast as my granddaughter! I also use essential oils in the environment, therapeutic pure oils which provide a scent in the air (NEVER put oils on a child). I put a drop or two on my grandchildren's pillows (older grandchildren) and for younger ones I put it on a cotton ball and then place it over a vent so it disperses into the air (Gentle baby) is an oil that relaxes and promotes sleep according to the manufacture. (You can read up on it at if this interests you).

Lastly and most importantly, implement a nightly child massage. Who doesn't sleep soundly and better after a great body massage. It will stimulate her immune system, brain development, and sense of well being besides helping her to sleep deeply. The research upholds these statements and my grandchildren have responded wonderfully to their nightly massages!

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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