- Jessica Berk
Is It Too Late to Sleep Train Your Toddler?
If you think it might be too late to fix your toddler’s sleep problems, then this common scenario probably sounds familiar:
“My kid is 3, and sleep’s been a disaster for a year. He’s so stubborn, he won’t sleep without me. Either I can’t leave his room OR he keeps waking up at 2 a.m. no matter what I try. I think I missed my chance to sleep train when he was in the crib.”
Spoiler alert: NOT TRUE!
I’ll tell you right now: sleep training can actually be easier with older kids.
Here are 3 reasons why … and be sure to stick around for the last one, about how sleep training can improve your relationship with your child (yes, you read that right).
>>Watch this blog on my Awesome Little Sleepers YouTube channel! 👇
Three reasons why sleep training tips work better for older kids
Sleep training is not only possible, but important to do with older kids. Once they’re out of the crib, sleep is just as important as it was when they were babies! Being uncontained can make things a bit more challenging, but it’s nothing you can’t handle with a little guidance.
Reason #1: Your child needs sleep more than ever!
Numerous studies have shown that sleep plays a vital role in your child’s developing mind and body. Sleep has a direct affect on happiness, cognitive performance, mood and memory. I know you agree because you’re feeling this, too!
It’s also been shown that poor sleep habits are linked to anxiety, obesity, attention problems and even depression in later years. Even minimal sleep loss can have an affect on your child’s day to day life.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 25% of kids under the age of 5 don’t get enough sleep.
I’m telling you this because I want you to truly understand the importance of sleep. And the longer poor sleep habits go on, the more ingrained they become. So the longer you sit with them while they fall asleep or the longer you let them get in bed with you at 2 a.m. or the more you give in to begging for “one more book”... You’re strengthening that habit.
But, here’s why it’s not too late to get sleep fixed up.
Reason #2: Your older kid can actually participate in the process!
Unlike when you sleep train babies who have no say in the matter, your big kid has opinions (strong ones) and willpower (also strong!) and they really want to be the boss. They want to run the show. That’s why every night feels like a power struggle - because it literally is! What you can do is learn how to harness their desire for control and use it for good!
It’s all about understanding where they are developmentally and setting some boundaries that match their maturity.
By learning how to give them specific choices, you invite their cooperation in the process. And when you set up new routines and sleep rules that are well-defined, kids learn to thrive with it and actually enjoy it! Yes, your kid who currently gets out of bed and throws all their clothes out of the dresser in the middle of the night can actually start to enjoy the bedtime routine and sleep through the night.
The way I teach it in my REST Method has the goal of making kids feel accomplished and allows them to build up pride in themselves.
And now to the reason I promised to tell you about at the beginning…
Reason #3: Sleep training can actually improve your relationship with your child!
This may seem counter-intuitive considering that most families are worried that going through the sleep training process will ruin their relationship, or somehow break the child/parent bond.
But it’s totally the opposite.
Let me run you through this scenario…
Beth’s daughter Chloe is always begging for more and more books at bedtime. 2, 3, 5 - it’s never enough. And if it’s not books, it’s more sips of water, or more tuck-ins. Beth does her best to perform all the steps of the extended routine, walking on eggshells along the way to prevent her daughter from having a meltdown.
But eventually, after an hour of walking Chloe back to her room, Beth loses her temper. “Stop it! Stop it right now. You lay in this bed or else you can’t go to Susie’s birthday party on Saturday. I’m serious!”
We’ve all been there. Losing our temper and threatening or yelling at our kids is the worst.
It’s like our helpless feelings of not knowing what to do clash with our frustration and it’s like a volcano of emotion. Really, it’s our own parent temper tantrum!
The truth is, when parents are struggling because they know their child is tired and they just don’t know what to do to get their child the sleep they need, it feels awful. Spending hours researching sleep training tips, trying night after night, only to have nothing work.
And if you get the sense that your child is manipulating the situation or turning everything into a game, parents can start to resent their kids. When the child is running the show every night and parents can’t get control, it feels awful, too.
I think you’ll agree that feeling helpless and resentful are not the feelings you want to be parenting from.
And when you can tell that your child’s behavior is being affected by lack of sleep, the parent guilt can be very real, breaking down your parenting confidence. This situation is way more common than most parents realize.
Not to mention the sleep deprivation as parents can be soul-crushing. As many parenting memes as there are telling you that being a mom means you’re always tired, it’s BS. To be the best version of yourself - mom, wife, friend, co-worker - you need sleep.
So consider this: is prolonging your kids' current behavior at bedtime really helping your parent/child relationship?
Now that you know it’s not too late to sleep train your toddler and the best time to get your kids sleeping is NOW, join me in my next Toddler Sleep Masterclass. It's free and I'll teach you all about my REST Method. >>Click here to save your spot<<