Ok, I can’t believe I am typing these words on the screen. We had sleep training success last night with Michael. I was so proud of him. I was so proud of me. I was so proud of Dad. Yes, there were nerves, a little bit of testing, and lots of questions from Michael questioning if he was ready to sleep alone. But I sensed it in my gut, his readiness, his maturity, the way he spoke to me about his fears earlier yesterday and on previous days. Many bathroom trips, many visits to our room before bed to try and bargain, but then quiet, blissful quiet while he slept. It took him awhile, but my boy finally saw that he could do it-sleep the whole night by himself. And me. Well, other than getting used to sleeping with my partner again, had a great night’s sleep in my own bed knowing that I had succeeded this time in teaching my son how to self-soothe.Now the trick would be keeping these strategies in place.
I began thinking of the five months we have spent slowly this time, going over how Michael needed to learn to separate from me, and over the techniques and ways he learned basic self-soothing. He is still working on that one, but aren’t we all? And I have vowed to stay strong and continue to show Michael what he can do against the odds. Last time we sleep trained too quickly and I caved when he became fearful. I have changed too, and now know that the best gift I can give him is to let him find his way out of troubled spots.
I thought back to the 5 basic steps I used in sleep training, thanks to the wonderful suggestions of our Psycho Educator. I have included them here to help other parents in their sleep training issues:
5 Things to Do For Sleep Training Success:
- Gentle separation from child: What worked for us was gently separating from Michael, 5 minutes a night. Also, in my case I would still go back to sleep in the same bed until Michael got used to being alone for longer stretches.
- Monster Social Story: Our Psycho Educator wrote a wonderful monster social story for us that we still are reading now. If you need help, google Carol Gray social stories or ask for help from a professional in writing one.
- Coping strategies list: Michael and I compiled a list of things that would help him cope with nighttime anxiety: monster spray, (you can buy in pharmacy), nightlight, white airplane noise on computer etc. Let your child choose these strategies. Last night he sprayed all the walls with monster spray. A mother could not be prouder. 🙂
- Keep routine EXACTLY the same no matter who puts child to bed: This is imperative. You need to have the basics and keep it consistent. No aterations. Kids will play you when they are insecure. They are smart. We used: shower, story, massage, prayer, cuddling for 12 minutes and I would leave room
- Stay strong and don’t try to fix child’s stress: I can’t stress this one enough. I am a nurturing Mom who thought I was helping when I would rescue Michael every time he was scared. Comfort then yes when they are frightened, but I ended up showing him that he needed me to calm down, not intentional. You’ll know when they are refusing to use strategies you have talked about that it is slight manipulation. That is when you gently redirect them to calming down strategies.
I don’t fool myself that there won’t be challenges ahead, but then as a parent there always are. You take it one day at a time.
Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with sleep issues? You are not alone, and the best advice I could give is to work with someone who understands you and your family’s situation. You and your child can do it. Everyone will sleep better as a result, and most importantly, you will show your child that they can soothe themselves and cope with stress, something invaluable to help them in life. Until next time.