All children are different. This is something that I’ve learned over the years, from working with and teaching kids and then having my own. No two children are exactly alike. Once you understand that, you can better understand whatever it is your child might be going through.
Case in point: my three-year-old son. For months after he turned 2 and after the arrival of his little brother, he slept brilliantly in his “big boy bed.” He even called us from his bed when he woke up after a full night’s rest because in his mind, his bed was like his crib and he couldn’t get out of it by himself. This was fine by me because I didn’t have to worry about him wandering through the house!
But after a few perfect months, he learned he could get out of his bed and he could do this at any time. He began coming to our room and trying to get in bed with us. We happily returned him to his bed, just like “the experts” in “those books” said to do. What followed was screams and tears from a tired little boy….and sighs and tears from his tired parents, as well.
After reading more from a particular “sleep expert,” we decided to install a baby gate in his door. I wasn’t comfortable with locking in his room, and the open door would hopefully let him know that he was alright, we were still there, but he needed to stay in his room. We explained to him what it was all about and what the purpose was. He was excited. We left a light on for him and it took him about 40 minutes to fall asleep with all of this new stuff. Then, at 2:30 AM, he comes to our room. I was shocked because I didn’t hear any noise prior to that and I had NO idea how he got through the gate. I took him back to his room and there was his kid chair. He used it to climb over the gate. *sigh*
That was a few months ago. Nothing was going to keep that kid in his room. So now, he falls asleep in his bed and sometime after we have gone to sleep, he comes in our room. We have set up a kids’ couch bed in our floor at the foot of the bed and he goes right to it and falls asleep until the morning.
We’ve learned that our kid just doesn’t follow the sleep experts’ advice. He doesn’t care about limits or bribes or sticker charts. He wants to sleep in Mommy & Daddy’s floor and nothing we can do will change this. Does he have “the rule of the roost?” No. If we wanted to, we could exert our authority and FORCE him to stay in his bed, but do you know what? He’s three. He’s NOT going to be sleeping in our floor when he’s 15. This is just a phase and as much as I hate it when people tell me this….it WILL pass. One day we will all get to sleep through the night without hearing footie pajamas tiptoe through our floor. But for now, this works for us and it’s okay! And whatever it is that your child is doing right now that could be slightly annoying…..well, it’s likely just a phase and it really is okay if it’s different than what the “the books” say and what other kids his/her age are doing! Really!