Child Sleep Issue: My 9 Year Old Needs Me to Go To Sleep!

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  • May 29, 2012

Would you like to have me answer your sleep question in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s child sleep issue video:

Hi! I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady. And today, I’m going to answer Laura’s question.

She wrote in and said the following, “Would your program be beneficial for a child of age 9? My son has his own room but we’re just now able to afford a place that had enough room for him to have his own room. Before that, he shared a room with us, first sleeping with us and we got him to a fold-away bed to sleep on but he still had to have me sleep near him. Now, I lay with him until he falls asleep and then I go to my room. Frankly, I’m exhausted. Please help me with this sleep issue.”

Laura, I want you to know you’re not alone. Childhood sleep issues are not uncommon. I have many parents who call me about their 7 year old, 8 year old, 10 year old, and 12 year old who they need to lie down with in order for them to go to sleep. It’s not too late. It might take a little longer because the habits are more established with your son but you definitely can help him change this. First, I would talk to him about how it’s time for him to learn how to put himself to sleep without his mom or dad lying down with him and that you have complete and total faith in him and how proud he is going to be of himself when he learns the skill.

Would I do a sticker chart? Probably not at his age, but I would really empower him! I would also teach him some relaxation techniques. I talk a quite a bit about creating a sleep inducing bedtime routine in my book, “Good Night, Sleep Tight”. You can tweak it for a slightly older child. You want him to know that he is in control of his thoughts and to decide what kind of relaxing things he wants to think about to help him put himself to sleep and that you’re going to stay with him while he learns and until he goes to sleep.

So, you’re first big step would be to not lie down with him. Talk to him about this and prepare him. Pick your first day, a Friday night is usually a good idea, not a school night, and then sit up in a chair next to his bed while he puts himself to sleep. Try not to talk to him too much and don’t do anything like patting his back or rubbing his back or holding his hand to sleep because when he wakes back up he will need you to do that again. You don’t want to create a new sleep crutch. You didn’t mention if he wakes during the night but if he does I would resume sitting by his bed. Move your chair every 2-3 days so that your next position is by the door and then in the hall in view. Each morning, talk with him about how he is doing and what he needs to focus on.

Remember, putting yourself to sleep is a learned skill. Your son has learned that the way I put myself to sleep is for mom to lie down with me. This sleep issue what he has been taught. Explain to him that you will be there to support him while he learns to do it independently. I know he is going to feel so proud of himself when he does it.

Sweet dreams,

The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have helped your older child learn to put him or herself to sleep without you lying down with him/her, please offer your support to Laura and remind her that it is never too late!Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave her a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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  • rosalynntyo says:

    My little one is only 17 months, so I don’t know how to teach an older child to fall asleep…but I do know what it is like to dread bedtime, so Laura definitely has my sympathy! After months on end of terrible sleep, I went through gentle sleep training with my girl when she was 1 year old and it worked like a charm. We all sleep through every night now.
    My question now is…how do I know if she’s ready for a big bed? She tends to flail in her sleep and hits the side rails. It never really wakes her up fully but I wince when I hear it…I’m worried she’ll really hurt herself.  I thought about bumpers but everything I’ve read says they’re not safe. I’m also worried she’ll fall out of a big bed in the night given how much she moves around. We are moving to a new house in July so I’m considering making the switch then, but I wonder if that’s a good opportunity or too much change at once. I definitely don’t want to mess with her sleep if I can avoid it…any advice would be hugely appreciated!

  • CharliePhoenix says:

    Hi,I’d like to try the “Sleep Lady Shuffle” on my 12-week-old — he’s shown the ability to self-soothe and for the most part sleeps well at night, with 1-2 night wakings. The problem is that he’s difficult to get back to sleep after his night waking. When he was first born, we were supplementing with formula, and even after we had weaned off the supplements during the day we kept the evening “topper-offer.” Well, now he thinks he needs the boob AND a bottle to fall asleep! During the day and during naps, however, we can leave him alone and he’ll play with his lovey, suck on a blanket or his fingers and be fine. He’s also not much of a crier, more a fusser, so as long as we settle him whenever he starts a full-on cry, I think it’ll go quickly.
    Here’s my question: I honestly don’t mind a nighttime feeding, or even two, as long as he goes back to sleep quickly afterwards. It isn’t the frequency of NWs that’s an issue, but how long he stays awake. I’m also worried about my milk supply if we cut out the night feedings.
    Is it OK, when he wakes at night, to feed him and THEN start the Shuffle? If we could get him to the point where he wakes, I feed, then I put him down in is crib and he goes right back to sleep, that would be perfect. Once he gets older, we can then wean him off of the NFs.
    Also, how would the “Sleep Lady Shuffle” work if you share a room but not a bed with your baby?