Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sleep Training -- Again......

How does one teach a child with minimal verbal skills that they need to stay in their room when they wake up in the middle of the night? That's the question we've been asking ourselves and living with for the last month or so.

Yes, as I think I've mentioned before, Simon has figured out how to maneuver around the final obstacle (pressure-mounted gate) that keeps him and his sister in their bedroom for the night and come wandering into our room at a whim. Well, TECHNICALLY, "maneuver" may be the right word -- he simply pulls the gate down to the ground, runs into our bedroom and jumps on my side of the bed, climbs over me, smiles and says "Bed!". This is something that we've been dreading for quite some time. Most days, on a good morning, he just simply wakes up earlier than the rest of us (on the order of 5am). However, he will often wake up closer to 2am and be fully awake.

When this started, I would bring Simon back into his room and take that giant step backwards of staying in there until he fell asleep, then trying to quietly sneak out. While Kevin was on his business trip last month, I pretty much just put up with it. I let him fall back to sleep in my bed because I (1) didn't have the energy to deal with it and (2) (at the end of the week) was dealing with his sick brother and needed to be available if he called to me during the night (which happened several times). However, after Kevin returned, we both agreed that something had to be done.

We went back to the no tolerance policy. He would come into our bedroom and I would bring him back to his room, put him back in bed and leave. He didn't necessarily know this, but I would stay just out of sight but still near his bedroom door and, when he started to try to leave his room again, I'd send him back to bed. Of course, this led to a lot of crying his part and strong feelings of guilt and neglect on my part, but I felt I was doing the right thing. Eventually, I was usually able to get back to bed, even if I wasn't able to fall back to sleep.

Fortunately, this usually only took one (or two) trips per night, when they occurred. However, that only seems to work when he's waking up at 1 or 2 in the morning. If he wakes up after 4:30 or 5am, he seems to feel that he no longer has to stay in his room and he can wander through the house (or at least upstairs). This morning, after he left his room 4 times, Kevin decided to get up and get ready for the day and I just gave up.

At what point is it right to just give in and recognize that he's not going back to sleep? Should he still stay in his room if it's more likely that he's going to wake his sister than go back to sleep? Is it really causing any harm for him to be up and in my bed? I'm just not sure anymore.

But at least there are some nights where I'm allowed to get some sleep. They aren't frequent enough, but I am getting that periodic break. This was something that I couldn't say this time last year. I suppose I should be grateful for that.

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