Monday, December 19, 2011

3 year old who's not sleeping

I am not sure where to start but I guess I have to start somewhere. My husband and I have 2 children, my oldest who will be 4 in a few days doesn't not sleep much at all. Lately it is becoming less and less, and he's never been one for naps during the day either. He is deathly scared of the dark and no night light seems to sooth his fear, so we started turning the TV on at night until he falls asleep and we would turn it off when we went to bed by that time he would be fast asleep. Now it seems that he's up all night and wakes up several times during the night and up at the crack of dawn.

Our house is small so most of his playtime is in his room and it feels like his TV is ALWAYS on. I fight with him on issues with the TV being off. But after a battle and it is always a battle I give in. I am a stay at home mom and after being with a 3 well 4 year old and a 7 month old baby and a dog on top of that I don't have the strength to deal with it.

There have been days where he has sat in his room for hours crying about the TV being off so much so he gets sick. He's good at making himself throw-up when he's upset. Anyways, I don't know what to do about all of this. He never sleeps through the night his sleep is down to a few hours a night and I know it's taking a tole on him and myself as well.

Please I am begging you for some help, any ideas will be greatly appreciated!


Dear Shannon:

This is a very common question. Feel free to peruse through previously answered questions. What you will find is this answer.

Routines, bedtime routines as so critical for a child to sleep well and parents too.

Children do not have a concept of time until they are elementary school age. So babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers are all very dependent upon their routines to tell them what comes next. Remember time is a man made concept. Children look to nature for their clues as to how life works.

You child seems high energy and doesn't require much sleep. However there are still things you can do to help him get sleep. A routine is about what comes next and parents often place more importance upon schedules (time based) than they do on routines (process based). The only reason schedules are ever successful is because sometimes people build routines within these schedules which children respond to quite well.

So with this information in mind let's discuss your child's bedtime routine. I often advise parents to start 60-90 minutes before they want their child in bed. Start by turning down the lighting, the noise level (this means off with the TVs, radios and computers). Then play with your child one on one, play games that are relaxing (not stimulating), read stories, give a bath and massage your child. (Who doesn't go to sleep soundly after a full body massage). One of the many reasons I recommend massage is studies show the person who gives a massage receives as many benefits as the person who receives the massage, so it de-stresses parents as well!

If you will get a routine down, one that does not vary each night and set the environment he will be sleeping sounder in no time at all. If you find he is still a challenge then take into consideration his entire daily routine. Sometimes children are overstimulated. They can not settle down if their brains are stimulated from morning until night. They do not have the same ability we do to self regulate their bodies, they are still learning. Even adults find sleeping a challenge in our technologically advanced society.

Aromatherapy, massage, peaceful play and one on one time should be the prescription you are looking for and enjoy him while you can he will grow up faster than you can believe possible. Sleepless nights will only be a fond memory shortly.

Make sure you get a massage once in a while as well. The better you take care of yourself the better off he will be he is lucky to have a mom who cares so much!


Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!
Kay, Thank you so much for all of your help I appreciate it, I have started him on a routine. We do bath's, talk about what we've learned through out the day, store and then bed. I did put a small ipod with speakers in his room and lullaby children's music on very very soft so there is back ground noise. It worked Immediately!!! I prepare him starting with the bath that there will be no TV at bed time and that he is to pick the book and so on and so forth. I make sure he understands that he's not in trouble. Again, thank you so much for all of your help I appreciate it, I will have to try the massage thing on him, hadn't thought about that one. Thank you so much!!!!

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