My 2 year old wont stay in bed! help!

courtneyp102March 18, 2007

My husband and I are having major issues getting out 2 year old son to stay in bed. He has always slept in his own room, in his own bed with NO problem since the day he was brought home from the hospital. It gives me and my husband quiet time and time to get things done around the house without a 2 year old messing up behind us! haha! Here in the past month we have had the hardest time even getting him to sleep. It all started after he came home from being in the hospital for one night with a stomach virus. We have tried everything! We do the normal bed routine, dinner, play time inside (movie, trains, books, etc..nothing to upbeat) and then bath..a little tv and bedtime around 8:00-8:30. Then I go in to lay him down and rock and we listen to music. The way I have done it since day one! I would rock him for about 3-5 min lay him down, asleep or not, and he would go right to sleep with jsut listening to his music. Now, I do everything the same..But I stand up from the rocking chair with him and it starts! Screaming and Crying! I don't even get him laid in his bed before this starts! I contine to go and lay him down, and tell him goodnight, but im not even turned around before he is following me out of the room. I immeditaly turn around walk him back to his bed and tuck him in again. After doing this 2 or 3 times I can usually get him to stay in bed, but the crying doesn't stop and by the time I shut the door hes back up. Ive tried to "crying it out" method, but it doesn't work. He will cry for hours. Screaming and banging and knocking on the door. I tried a few times to let him lay in bed and watch a short movie, but I would have to trick him and say "I will be right back" to get out of his room and he would go on to sleep. That lasted about 2 nights until he caught on. Then, we tried a longer movie and letting him cry, this worked for a little while, now, the movie will go off, and my son is up. I have tried the whole don't say a word just put him back in bed..doesn't work. jumps right back up! But the weird thing, we can lay him down on the couch, and my husband and I can go outside on the deck, in our room to bed, cook, clean, anything and he will lay on that couch and pass out asleep! NO matter if we are beside him or not. He will be gone to the world asleep and then we try to lay him down in his room, as soon as he hits that bed..BACK UP CRYING! and I really don't want to start with the whole sleeping with us deal, since he has done so good with sleeping in his own room. At first we thought it might be something in his room scaring him..or maybe the light outside his, he has room darkening blinds, and a night light..Didn't work. Then he went to stay with his grandparents and did the same exact we knew it wasn't his room at our house. It usually takes us till about 1am to get him in bed settled somewhere. My husband gives into him and ends up going and letting him come to bed with us, or on the couch. Which makes me feel liek the work I have done is no good anymore. We can't even get himt o lay down for a nap anymore. He takes his nap on the couch. Im afirad of just letting him cry it out as well because I don't want him to sit at his door and cry and fall asleep on the floor. We ahve also tried leaving his door open. He won't come out of his room, but he does stand at his door and cry for us. PLEASE HELP! I don't want to dread bedtime any longer!

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He was probably scared at first from the hospital stay. Now he has you trained. And now you have to be more stubborn than he is. And since you've tried other things and given up, it could take a couple of weeks to get this to work. BUT IT WILL WORK.

1. Put him to bed as you use to do with his normal bed time routine.

2. When he gets up out of bed, tell him, "No, it's bed time", and put him back to bed.

3. When he gets up, tell him "Bed time" put him back to bed.

4. When he gets up...just put him back to bed. Repeat step 4 until he goes to sleep. HE WILL GO TO SLEEP EVENTUALLY.
You may have to repeat step 4 for a couple of hours. Do not let him wear you down or it will take even longer.

Here is where you have to be more stubborn than him. You see, what he has learned in that short period of time is that "If I make a big enough fuss, Mom and Dad will give in to me, I will get my way".

To show you that this will work, keep a journal. On night #1 write down what time you started, make a tick mark for every time you put him back to bed, and write down the time he fell asleep. Repeat nightly until you can just put him to bed and he stays there (remember, it doesn't matter if he falls asleep right away, really it matters that he stays in bed quietly, he can talk and sing to himself as much as he wants until he falls books or movies, just him and his favorite sleeping toy). The reason to do this is when you're frustrated on day 3 or 4, you will see that it really is taking less time than it did on day one. Usually by day 3 or 4 they are good to go, but it may take 2 weeks..but it is only 2 weeks then you will have him sleeping fine!!! SErioulsly 2 weeks MAX!!!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 9:10AM
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Could he have an ear infection and be dreading the laying his head down in bed part? Maybe something on the tv is scaring him even if it hadn't before?

I would try leaving for an hour or so (If you are the one who normally puts him to bed) and having your husband try putting him to bed without you there.

Vickey's way may work...well, really any kind of conditioning tactic should over time, but if there is an underlying cause you probably want to figure it out.

Some kids are born not wanting to sleep, but if he's never had a sleeping problem before, it sounds to me like it may be something else (aside from his personality just wanting to stay up).

Let us know how things are...maybe he's already ok! Good luck.

Oh, could reflux be an issue-especially after the stomach bug? Try not letting him eat so close to bedtime, or, in the reverse, have you considered he is going through a growth spurt and is just extra hungry and wants to eat a little more to tie him over?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 9:38AM
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One thing that has helped in our family, is also creating some sort of ritual, like putting his stuff toys to sleep with him, saying goodnight to EVERYTHING in the house ("goodnight kitchen, goodnight livingroom...")... and then what Vickey was saying, with no emotion just to make the process less and less interesting to him. It's really tiring, wearing to say the least, but if you stay with it, after initial AGONY, it WILL work.

VERY interested in hearing how it goes. We have another one on the way, so I'm wondering how it's going to go this time....

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 4:26PM
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Sounds like this is a real need, you'll never regret listening to your child.

Your son seems to be making a frightening connection between beds and his hospital stay. Can your family physician recommend outside help? Perhaps a therapist who works with this age group? I don't normally jump outside the family or nearby village but a sudden frightening change as you describe cries out for a bigger village.

"Typical" tactics work for "typical" situations, at the discretion of family philosophy. But you don't seem to have a "typical" challenge. Something dramatic has happened to overwhelm your child and your family. Perhaps engaging an experienced helper will help you find true peace. Hopefully you have multiple resources in your area (ie local children's hospital, beloved famly physician, etc) for recommendations.

Please update us!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 12:20PM
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Some people (kids) have chemical sensitivities. Whether or not that could be developed suddenly, I don't know. But maybe he is allergic or sensitive to something in his bed or the bed itself.
For example, many people complain that their memory foam mattress made them sick.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 6:48PM
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I completely agree with Vickey. Let us know how it turned out :) Christy

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 9:41PM
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I think maybe he needs either his nap cut out or made shorter. My daughter starting doing this for a while and we did the movie and tv thing too.
Ended up she just wasnt that tired after having a nap during the day.We had to go through a good week of crankiness from no nap,but then she was passing out at bedtime (and it's ok to make bedtime a little bit sooner when cutting out the nap)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 4:15AM
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try warm milk put the tv on and if he/she gets up and out of milk make more and a warm soft blanket good luck!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 11:31PM
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My 2 year old keeps coming into bed with me and my husband, It is usually after we are sleeping and the house is quiet. Sometimes i do not hear him come in. But usually i wake up and he is curled up in bed with us, I put him back in his own bed if he is sleeping when i do then a hour or so later he will come back and crawl in bed again,or if he wakes up when i do put him back in bed he starts crying. This usually happens for like a couple of hours. Burt he just started doing it a coupole weeks ago. I have tired everything.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 12:04PM
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I am having similar challenges thanks to you all I have some ideas just wanted to say thanks :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:55AM
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I have a 2 yr old daughter that has never slept through the night ever and bedtime is always an hour or 2 fight to get her to bed. My husband and I usually have to rock her to sleep then put her in bed but she is getting too big to be rocked like that anymore. I tried the weighted calming blankets but she kicked it right off. We have tried Vicky's approach but gave up after 2+ hours of walking her back to her bed and fighting with her to stay in bed. She hates being alone. She wakes up at least once every night around 1 am and comes into our room wanting to sleep with us or play. She is extremely high energy all the time and difficult to calm.
I am so ready for Super Nanny to help!
Any suggestions for the extremely strong willed/stubborn 2 yr old and exhausted parents! We also have a very very hard time getting her down for a nap. Some days she just doesn't take one at all!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 9:05PM
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Super nanny would just tell you to keep doing what you are doing. If she gets up put her back to bed, no interaction.

Of course this will be tiring for you, but I am sure if you persist it will happen.

Watch the show, she is always dealing with parents with bedtime issues.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 10:00PM
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Or you could read about attachment parenting and co-sleeping.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 1:50PM
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I also have a two year old son, and this thread has given me some ideas on how to deal with some related issues. Thanks a lot!

Here is a link that might be useful: Why Age Two Is an Awesome Year?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:35AM
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I also have a two year old son, and this thread has given me some ideas on how to deal with some related issues. Thanks a lot!

Here is a link that might be useful: Why Age Two Is an Awesome Year?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Pamela Graham

I know you were going through this in 2007, almost 8yrs later i am having the same issues with my son. He also slept in his bed, own room. Now he wont stay in bed or his room. If i do manage to get him to sleep in his room ne up every night at 130. What finally worked for you?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2015 at 5:23PM
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