Let’s Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Teach and encourage appropriate resting behavior
Remind the child that he must go into his bedroom, lie down, and go to sleep by himself. He will remain in his room all night, soothing himself if he awakens at night as needed to he can return to sleep. If necessary, teach the child self-soothing strategies such as deep breathing, making mental lists, or squeezing his bedtime companion. Tell him that you will be checking on him and helping him to rest quietly, provided he remains in his bed and quiet.
Manage nighttime interruptions, without rewarding them
Periodically praise the child quietly for resting quietly (how often you check on the child is based on how long he currently remains in his bed).
For every (—) minutes he remains in his bed, snuggle (e.g., rub his back) or talk to him briefly and let him know you will keep checking on him. Allow the child to keep his comfort objects if he is resting quietly.
Listen carefully for the child at night and go to him if he needs something – rather than allowing him to come to you. If the child gets out of his bed, guide him back immediately. Say simply, “You must sleep in your own bed” and provide no other attention or affection.
Reward the child for remaining in his bed during the week with special privileges (e.g., watching a movie with the parents, co-sleeping one night per week)
Gradually increase expectations for independent sleep
Remain in child’s room or close by initially and then begin fading out your presence to the hall to other areas of the house as he becomes more independent.
Gradually extend the amount of time the child must remain quiet and in his bed for your to return to snuggle and talk to him.
As with any behavioral support strategies, the specific approaches for improving sleep should be tailored to the child’s and family’s needs and the circumstances surrounding the child’s behavior. It is important to be both supportive and firm. Consistency between parents and other caretakers and over time is a key to success. With the right strategies, everyone in the family will ultimately get more rest…