Wednesday, December 5, 2012

4 year old is not sleeping!

Dear Kay,

I have 3 children, 13-year old daughter, 4 year-old son, and 2-month old son.  The youngest doesn't have a room yet and is sleeping in a bassinet in our room.  The problem is our 4-year old. He had been in a habit of laying in our bed until going to sleep and then being carried into his bed. About 5 months ago (while dad was out of town), I changed the sleeping routine and he started going to sleep in his own bed after laying with me for a couple of minutes.

Just recently, though, he has completely thrown all of that aside. When I leave his bed, he completely loses control - crying (until he throws up usually), wanting a drink, needing to go to the bathroom, asking questions, wanting to give another hug and kiss, etc. This usually lasts for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and he finally goes to sleep. However, last night he also woke up at 3:45 and decided to re-enact the entire routine until he finally fell asleep.

We don't know what to do. I suspect that he is jealous that the new baby gets to sleep in our room and he doesn't but I don't know what to do. We are finishing our basement to move our daughter downstairs so that the baby can have her room but things are progressing very slowly.I need to find out how to handle the situation now.

Dear Robin:

I can imagine how sleep deprived you all must be getting. You do however know what is wrong as you stated, "I suspect that he is jealous that the new baby gets to sleep in our room and he doesn't but I don't know what to do."

First go get some books on what happens when a new baby comes home from the children's section. There are so many books these days for children I am always surprised when parents don't know to read them. They help little ones understand what is happening in their world and normalize what they are feeling. Another type of book to get is books on feelings. This is a great opportunity to support him in developing a feeling vocabulary. He needs help in identifying his feelings, expressing them and accepting them. If you work on these two issues and add in a nightly massage I think he will be sleeping better in no time.

One last thing, don't forget to give him a few minutes each day of his own one on one time with each member of the family. I takes a lot to overcome sibling rivalry for attention.

He is lucky to have such concerned parents.

M Kay Keller

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