My 6 year old stepdaughter spends most week nights at her moms, and weekends with me and my husband. When with her mother, they sleep in the same bed and use the television to fall to sleep. At our house, we have a regular 8pm bedtime routine that is potty, tooth-brushing, stories, then sleep. Despite having this routine since she was three years old, my stepdaughter insists that me or my husband stay in the room until she falls asleep. During this time she stalls, asking for a drink of water, or trying to make conservation. She complains that it is not fair that she cannot sleep with us, and begs one of us to sleep in her room. Once she falls asleep (it takes 1-2 hours), she wakes around 4am and calls for company until she falls back to sleep. If we refuse to stay with her, she fake cries until she becomes genuinely scared and cries sincerely.

Although we do sit in her room until she is asleep, my husband and I have a strict no talking rule after stories. Still, she shows no improvement in being able to soothe herself to sleep, even when told that she can read or quietly play with her stuffed animals in bed. Her mother is unwilling to change the bedtime routine at her house, and we are unwilling to add a TV to the bedroom.

This is my question: Is it possible for us to teach her to fall asleep alone, or does the inconsistency between homes make this an unfair expectation? If it is possible, how should we go about teaching her this new skill?

asked 07 Aug '10, 02:04

johearn's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

What time is bedtime at her Mom's?

(07 Aug '10, 06:19) Neen

It is also 8pm during the school year, and a little more flexible during the summer.

(07 Aug '10, 14:45) johearn

Isn't co-parenting a big pain-in-the-butt sometimes? Not always, not even most of the time, but sometimes, ugh. I completely sympathize with you, I had similar problems with my ex when my older boys were grade school age that really only got resoved with time. (My oldest always vomited when he was overtired, he always came home from his Dad's overtired and puked in his bed, it stopped after a couple of long weekends when it was his Dad who had to deal with a kid who'd been sick in his bed.)

On the other hand, a lot of the complaining and "But Dad let's us..." stuff was easy to deal with once I just started to say "These are the rules at our house, those are the rules at your Dad's, you're smart, you can keep track." Or sometimes just shrug and say "My house, my rules." Completely no-nonsense and calmly. Kid's are smart, and consistency is important, but rules are different in different places and they can totally understand that the rules at school are different from the rules at Mom's and the rules at Mom's are different than the rules at Dad's. There isn't anything unfair about it. It's just the way it is.

I'd have a talk with her and tell her that learning to get to sleep by herself and stay in her own bed is a really important thing to learn how to do. Talk about all the fun things like sleeping over at a friends house or going to camp when she's older depend on her having that skill. Throw in anything else that will make it sound really great that you can think of. Then tell her that you've decided that it's time she learned how and the new rules about bed-time.

I think you probably just have to tough it out for a couple of weeks and let her know that you'll sit with her for 15 minutes, half an hour, or not at all, whatever seems reasonable to you, and then you're leaving and she has to stay in bed. If she get's up, take her back to bed. Stay calm and just take her back to bed (as little "attention" as possible, you know how if a child can't get good attention, they'll take bad, don't give her either). For the first couple of weekends it will probably be over and over and over again. I think that once it sinks in that you're serious, and that this is just the way things are at Dad and your house, you'll be okay.

The middle of the night stuff, I don't know what to tell you, my kids only woke up in the middle of the night about once a month and I let them get in with me. Sorry.

Maybe somebody else has a idea?


answered 08 Aug '10, 06:37

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accept rate: 30%

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Asked: 07 Aug '10, 02:04

Seen: 6,006 times

Last updated: 08 Aug '10, 06:37