Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Some big steps need to be forced

We just put Kevin to bed for the first time without one of us staying in there with him. We haven't been sleeping with him, but one of us would sit or lay on the floor next to his bed until he fell asleep. Tonight we sent Kevin into the scary world of falling asleep on his own.

His bedtime routine was becoming longer and longer because he would ask for water ("No, Kevin, you already had a drink"), [Winnie the] Pooh books ("No Kevin, you dropped them on the floor and we're not picking them up"), horse/cow ("No, Kevin, you pushed horse/cow behind the bed"), and all sorts of other things. Perhaps this is because his language skills are improving but we figured that he'd stop taking an hour to fall asleep if he didn't have an audience. Also, I'm hoping that this will cut back on his nighttime visits to our room. Granted, he doesn't wake up and come in every night, but when he does, it's very difficult on me. I expect he'll wake up sometimes and need comforting, but the past two nights he wanted me to sleep in his bed with him when he woke up. I'm sure it's obvious that's not the most comfortable way to sleep. It's no surprise that children who learn to fall asleep on their own are able to do so during the night as well.

We used the technique of "controlled crying" in which we put him to bed awake and left the room. He screamed and cried and screamed and cried and screamed some more and after about 3 minutes, we went back in to reassure him that we were still there and then we left the room again. More screaming and crying and screaming and crying (and Kevin was pretty loud, too) and we waited 5 minutes to go in again. Then we waited 10 minutes to go in the next time and 15 the following time. After about 35 minutes total, Kevin was asleep. He had stopped crying prior to that and would start up again every time we went back in, but we still felt it was good to let him know that we were there and would be available should he need us. We also made sure to be close to his room making noise like walking around, talking, etc. so that he knew we weren't completely leaving him (beyond his door, anyway.)

We're fortunate that we're able to attempt this because this should only be used with children who have a strong, healthy attachment to their parents. We feel secure with Kevin's attachment to us and because of that, this process should help him instead of hurt him (despite the wailing in the short-term.)

We are hoping he'll only feel distressed by this for a few days and then he'll have learned that he's safe and able to fall asleep on his own. That'll give us more time at night after he goes to bed that we can do things before we go to bed. Maybe we'll catch some more TV and do some more scrapbooking and beading. Wow... that sounds really nice.

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