So, you’ve got the new bed all set up in your toddler’s room. It’s a beautiful sight, with the Fire-Engine motif and the accompanying theme-matched bedspread. The only problem is: he doesn’t want to sleep in it.
My father used to say that teaching kids was a lot like training dogs. That always used to make me mad when I was a kid, but now that I have kids of my own, I see more and more how right he was. Our kids simply do what we train them to do.
For example, your child may be getting up several times in the night and coming in to sleep with you. If you’ve read a little bit of parenting tips, you know that you should simply help him return to his bed without fighting him or lecturing him. But if you do eventually end up giving in, you’ve only trained your child to be consistent—not independent.
Investigate a little. Find out if he’s afraid in his new bed—new things can be a little scary, at first. Talk to him about how he’s a big boy now, and you’re proud of him. Ask him if anything makes him afraid in his room. If you like, pray with him or tell a story before leaving the room to bring closure to the day.
Then wait and see. Be prepared for some resistance to the change.
That’s not to say that if you’re less than perfect at the “return to sleep without talking” method you have failed. All of us want to sleep more than teach sometimes, and 3 am is not the most conducive time to clear thinking. Go easy on yourself—experts like Dr Marc Weissbluth say that if we are consistent 80% of the time with our teaching—whether it’s potty training or sleeping independently—we are being effective.
So, go ask questions and be effective.