Keeping a pre-schooler in their toddler bed

Learn about: Keeping a pre-schooler in their toddler bed from Kim West, LCSW-C,...
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Keeping a pre-schooler in their toddler bed

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So if you have a 3-year old that's coming out of their room every single night after their nice routine and their books and I love you honey and I'll see you in the morning and before you know it you go downstairs, you're relaxing, and down the stairs they come. Super, super common. Typical advice that we're often given as parents is to just bring them back silently and put them back into their bed. And then we just leave and we go back downstairs. And then it happens again. And you do this over and over again. I don't find that that works as well, because as parents we start to lose our resolve after like the 30th return, and we're not that patient anymore. And then it becomes, stay in your bed! And temper tantrums unfold. So I think it's much better to return them, but I think you should stay with them. And really I think you should start during the day and have a little family meeting. And you may be will talk about how, I always tell parents, blame it on me. I talked to the sleep lady today and she told me that we were supposed to teach you how to put yourself to sleep without mommy or daddy lying down with you or rubbing your back to sleep or letting me twirl my hair to sleep - a very common one. And so we're going to stay with you and teach you how to put yourself to sleep. And then you make a sleep manner chart with very simple 4-5 behaviors that you're going to work towards. Not that I think children are going to follow this for a sticker. It's just to help clarify the behavior that you want to see more of. And then you say and tonight, we're going to start. And here are our sleep manners. So you're going to lie quietly in your bed. And mommy and daddy are going to stay here until you're asleep. And once you're asleep, we're going to leave. So notice how I didn't say I'm going to stay here and sleep here all night long. On the floor, on a chair, on a couch in your room. And then you're going to stay there until they're totally asleep. You don't want to sneak out of the room the minute they close their eyes, because they'll start to become hyper-vigilant, like, oh I'm onto this. Mom and dad leave the minute I fall asleep. So then they'll be up 15 times within an hour. So it's much better to just wait completely. Once they're asleep, you leave. And every time they wake up, you return them to their room. I like to use like a toddler clock or a wake up light. And I point out to them, look, your wake up light's not on. We have to lie quietly in our bed. You put them in their bed, and you sit and you wait. It's kind of tiring. But it's very successful. And within a week usually, 3 nights by the bed, 3 nights by the door, haul and view, and you're done. Usually by then, they're sleeping through the night in like 2 weeks.

Learn about: Keeping a pre-schooler in their toddler bed from Kim West, LCSW-C,...

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Kim West, LCSW-C

Psychotherapist & Author, The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight

Kim West is a mother of two and a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) who has been a practicing child and family social worker for more than 19 years. Known as The Sleep Lady by her clients, over the past 12 years she has helped thousands of tired parents all over the world learn to listen to their intuition, recognize their child’s important cues and behaviors, and gently create changes that promote and preserve his or her healthy sleep habits. 

West has appeared on the Dr. Phil, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC’s Bringing Home Baby  and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Baby Talk,  Parenting, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Irish Independent and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country. West is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy with Joanne Kenen. She is also the author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies and The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook.

Kim received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

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