The Bedtime Struggle: Update

Back in August I shared about our "Bedtime Struggle" with Raley. I was so surprised by the overwhelming amount of support that you guys showed me during this time and I found that many of you are going through the same thing. While I don't wish these sleeping issues on anybody, it did make me feel so much better to know that this is not something out of the ordinary.

Within the last month we have turned a complete 180 when it comes to bedtime so I wanted to share with you what we've been doing and maybe provide some encouragement for those of you struggling with the same issues.

We had been trying to avoid any sort of sleep aid because we didn't want her to end up dependent on medication to fall asleep. When we talked to her pediatrician about her sleeping issues back in October she mentioned that it would be OK for her to take Melatonin if we felt like she needed it. In December she had a persistent cold that was keeping her up at night and the night time cough and cold medicine wasn't helping her sleep so I finally broke down and bought the Zarbee's children's melatonin tablets. They, of course, worked like a charm, but you're not supposed to give them to kids for prolonged periods of time (the bottle says no more than 14 days in a row.) We gave them to her for about a week hoping that it would stimulate her natural melatonin to kick in when it was supposed to each night. Although, after we stopped giving her the melatonin, she started getting out of bed again, just like she was before. We thought well that didn't work, but it was nice while it lasted.

Then we decided to try something different that we hadn't tried yet. We realized one night that alot of times we threaten to punish her for getting out of bed but then don't follow through. We will hear her starting to creep down the stairs and we'll loudly say to each other "I hope Raley isn't out of bed, I sure would hate to give her a spanking tonight," and she would run back up to her room and jump in bed. We realized we were just being lazy and not following through with her punishment was not solving the problem. It was allowing her to test our boundaries and get away with it.

Another thing we realized after months and months of dealing with this is that typically spankings and taking away treats for disobeying didn't work for her. We would tell her "if you stay in bed you'll get a treat in the morning, but if you get out of bed you lose your treat." She didn't care about the treat.

So finally one night we sat her down and had a talk about "consequences" (our buzz word lately). We told her that she needed to stay in bed and go right to sleep and if she didn't there would be consequences and we explained what the word meant. Then we told her clearly what those consequences were - the first time she got out of bed she would lose her favorite baby doll for the night and the second time she got out of bed she would lose her "sock monkey." These were her two favorite toys at the time and she did not like the idea of not getting to sleep with them in her bed.

We watched her closely on the monitor and when she got out of bed we took her baby doll away. No second chances. She cried for a few minutes, but we talked about consequences and how she knew before laying down what those consequences would be. We reiterated that if she got out of bed again that she would lose sock monkey. She didn't get out of bed again that night and ended up falling asleep pretty quickly.

So we stuck with it and this has been going on for about a month now. Each night at bed time and during the day at "rest time" we talk about consequences. We clearly state what will happen if she gets out of bed and, if she does, we follow through with those consequences. Since we started doing this I can count on one hand the number of times she has gotten out of bed for a reason other than to use the bathroom (which she knows is always OK.) She doesn't always fall right to sleep, but she rarely gets out of bed anymore.
The orange monkey she's holding is what she calls "sock monkey"
She even stays in bed at "rest time." She has to stay in her room and rest for 2 hours each day (she knows it's time to get up when her clock turns green). She actually falls asleep and naps 2 or 3 days out of the week, but the rest of the days she has been very good about sitting in her bed and playing with dolls or looking at books, which I am totally ok with.

I'm almost hesitant to post this because I don't want to jinx the progress we've made. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure what has caused this drastic change in her behavior. Maybe her natural melatonin is kicking in when it should after taking the supplement. Maybe it's talking about consequences and following through. Maybe it's a maturity thing and she has simply grown out of that phase. I think it's probably a combination of all of it, but whatever it is, I hope it stays that way!

Are any of yall still having the same sleep issues? If you've had these issues in the past, but they are resolved, what worked for you?

In case you missed it:
The Bedtime Struggle - if you'd like to catch up on Raley's sleep issues that had us pulling our hair out for nearly a year.

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