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When your child won’t sleep (in their own bed)

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Are you exhausted and don’t get enough rest as a parent?

I met a father of three the other day and he said it was exhausting when his three-year-old was still coming into the parents’ bed during the night.

I felt really I could empathise strongly with his tiredness.

It reminded me when I was reflecting lately how I was as a mother of two young children last decade, working in a full-time job and we were having a house built for us where it felt like a million important decisions had to be made in an instant.

I wondered how I made it through this intense time 8 years ago?

For all you parents of very young children out there - do you wish your children were older?

It always seemed unfair to me at the time that during these early years of our children’s lives, most of us are so sleep deprived we don’t really get to enjoy these years of blissful innocence where our children ask fearless questions and are simply so adorable and cute.

I was terrified of sudden infant death during my first born’s first year and clearly remember the relief when she turned one and this threat was no more.

Someone told me recently that it doesn't stop at the age of one?

To this I said: ‘Thank God, I didn’t know at the time’.

In a way I was rushing my experience through this first year and often couldn’t be in the moment with her.

We are full of fears that they could fall badly, do something to hurt another child for which we could get the blame or simply say something embarrassing in a public place.

My children taught me to now slow down a little and enjoy their growth and development with them as our next stage is the teenage years.

Teenagers (I hear) are really struggling these days.

They are being compared to how we were and are losing most of the time in that they are being told their general knowledge is poor and they have no coping skills.

What I am observing is that they are receiving very little guidance how to be in this digital age and knowing their way around the online world is hard for them.

I heard a teenager say that they would like to learn what they are interested in but have no idea how to navigate what is right and wrong in the search engines.

How does this relate to bedtime rituals?

Here is what I believe the connection is:

Children need

to be able

to trust


When my daughter was about 18 months old, I was exhausted from her not wanting to go to sleep in the evenings.

Her sleep association was me needing to be in the room with her to fall asleep.

I wanted to get my evenings back to myself as I needed break after a long day at work and a restful night’s sleep.

I learned how to help my child sooth themselves without crying it out or permissive parenting.

It was a couple of days well worth it I spent on a firm and gentle way.

My child was reassured by me that I would never leave her feel abandoned and yet showed my faith in her ability to calm herself down.

Parents needing to sleep so that they can go to work rested - can be confident that attending my parenting course will show them how.

They can assist a young child go to sleep by themselves and work out with their teenager how to have a discerning approach when teaching themselves something new online.

Your key strength as a parent is to have an adult view on a problem a child has and then using your life experience to guide them.

This of course can only work if we have worked through our own childhood experiences and made peace with less pleasant ones. If we were left to cry it out in these early years and we now hear our own child cry it out, our own trauma may kick in. I have been observing that parents are either completely detaching from these unconscious memories of being left alone and nobody coming to sooth them or being overly protective now. What if there was a way in between - like a golden middle? Would you like to hear about it? My parenting approach is a gauge for knowing when your child needs to be picked up and comforted and learning to comfort themselves. We are never too old to learn some new skills. Jane Nelsen whose positive discipline parent educator course I just completed writes the following:

“The challenge is to be able to discern whether the cry is communicating a need or a want.

Tell your child what you are going to do earlier in the day about bedtime.

Even if your child is preverbal, he or she will understand the energy behind the words.”

What I have been practising with every decision when it comes to being consistent with my children, is that I was very clear about my needs.

I needed to sleep undisturbed in my own bed.

Coming from this clarity, I was able to be loving and firm about sleep training most of the time.

Not every day was the same, of course.

We are teaching our children that they are capable when they get a chance to experience their own strength such as learning to self-sooth.

This ability develops resilience in our children from an early age.

What is new about this approach is that we hold the space for them by guiding them and not giving into their demands for ‘undue attention’.

Rudolf Dreikurs, author of ‘Children, the challenge’ believed that children who struggle at bedtime are simply needing more encouragement throughout the day.

The art of encouragement is something you learn on my 8-week parenting course.

Would you like to work with me?

Click here and book a free call to find out what would suit you best.

Parenting is one of the hardest things many of us will do and it can be simpler when we know a few tools.

When we do the same over and over and expect different outcomes, we all know that this is called insanity.

Having the courage to change - is not.

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