Lately, our 3-year-old daughter has been having trouble falling asleep at night. She shares a room with her older brother and has her own single bed. She would insist to sleep on her brother’s bed to be with him, however, her brother does not want to share his bed with her, and they will end up fighting.
It was getting worse as days passed and although we stayed with her longer in her room at night and prayed over her, she still would not be able to sleep after we left their room. When we asked her what’s wrong, she would say she was scared but she would not be able to say scared of what exactly.
She would stay awake in bed till late, making sounds and talking to herself or to her brother to stay awake. Her brother would eventually fell asleep himself. Sometimes she would quietly sneak out of her room to find us in the office, which we then have to bring her back to her room and bed again.
So what worked for her? What helped her fall asleep then? Well, 3 things.
1. The ‘Wait and sneak over’ plan
The simplest method in the list. We noticed that she would wait till her brother falls asleep, then she’d sneak over to his bed to sleep with him till morning. This was how she managed her situation a couple of times.
2. The mighty cane aka Mr Rotan
On another night, husband told her that if she was scared, he would leave his cane on the chair in the kids room, so that the cane would chase their nightmares away. It actually worked, some nights when the kids feel a little scared to be on their own, they would come out of their room and request for the cane , and they would place it in their room chair, which is across from both their beds, then they would fall asleep. Some nights I can hear the kids talking to each other when I pass their bed room door, conversations that sound like this..
3 year old: “Koko, I’m scared of bad dreams, I don’t want nightmares’
5 year old: ” It’s ok, see the cane over there, see, no more nightmares already. The cane has chased all the nightmares away”
3 year old: ” I’m not scared already koko, no more nightmares right”
5 year old: ” Yes, daddy’s cane is here, no more nightmares already”
It’s really sweet to hear her brother reassure her. I melt outside their room door when I hear conversations like this. Then I’d mop my self up and head off to do my nightly routine.
3. The watchful and protective mummy
This is one of my favorite, as it reassures her the most. We have a baby monitor that faces her bed so we can keep an eye on the kids when they sleep. This is how we knew she was sneaking over to her brother’s bed at night, and what she and her brother talked about before they sleep.
One night she couldn’t fall asleep again, so she sneaked out of her room to find mummy and daddy in the office. I called her over to me and showed her the baby monitor screen that was overlooking her bed and told her.
Mummy: “Girl, do you know when you are in your bed, I can keep watch over you at night and make sure you are ok? Look at this screen, the baby monitor is facing your bed. If you don’t lie down on your bed, I cannot see you.
The 3-year-old looks at her bed through the baby monitor screen and says “Mummy you can see me when I sleep right?”
Mummy: “Yes exactly. Why don’t we go back to your bed, and lie you down. After this mummy will come back out and sing you a song through the baby monitor, so you know I can see you and hear you ok?”
We went back to her room and I put her in bed. She insisted me to check that the baby monitor facing her was on, which I said yes as the monitor lights were on. I went back to our office and sang to her Twinkle twinkle little star through the speaker option on the monitor. and she continued to lay in bed, while her brother chimes in and sings back the song to me through the monitor.
She stayed in bed and fell asleep, without fuss. The next few nights she continued to sleep in her bed.
This reminds me of a quote I saw in a parenting forum a few weeks back.
“The adult interprets the world for the child.” That is our work with the child, that we help them understand the world around them.
Kids rely on adults to interpret the world around them, their fears, their frustrations, their feelings. I was glad I was able to give her the assurance she needed to feel safe in her bed at night. Well, it was either me or daddy’s cane.
Thanks for reading.