What to do when your toddler wakes at 5am.

It can be hard to get a child to sleep through the night – but what if they are habitually waking early?

One mother emailed me about her 3-year old son who refused to do anything alone when he woke up early. If she didn’t let him in her bed, he would cry until he woke his 10 month old sister up. Now there are TWO wailing children to contend with at 5:30 am.  Ugh!

Is this how you start your day? Are you sleep deprived from this toddler sleep schedule regime?

Here was my reply:

Thanks for the email. He is an early riser and you are not. He can rise early (try to make him stop –  HA!)  and that is okay – but he must be a co-operative human in  your house  and realize he doesn’t have the right to disturb others when he wakes.

So…. tonight at tuck-ins, let him know YOU are not to be woken until 7 am (or whenever) and set an alarm for him so he knows when it will be 7am. Then ask him what he would like to do alone when he wakes until 7 o’clock arrives.   As long as he is safe and non-disturbing, it shouldn’t matter to you…

When he says things like "the TV is too bright" or "the hall is too dark"  he is just attempting to eliminate the options you have offered in order to get to be social with you! TOUGH! You are NOT an option at 5:30 am and he must be left to deal with the true fact that life at 5:30 am is BORING and hopefully he will either LEARN to self-entertain, not  be afraid of  the dark, give up minding the TV brightness or go back to sleep.

To ensure he doesn’t disturb you, you can put a childproof handle on the outside of YOUR bedroom door.   It’s okay if he screams and bang for the first few mornings (say NOTHING) so he learns that there is NO mommy interaction until 7am.

If the baby cries – leave her too. Now he has a crying sister and no mom!  Boy – better not be stuck like that again!!!  The baby will settle again (good training for her too) or he’ll go play with her and the two of them can keep each other company.  They’d learn it’s no fun, lots of tears, boring and maybe a bit scary to be up and alone without mom.  Let him / them experience this a few times (the baby will learn to sleep through the noise of her brother) and they both will learn there is no good reason to get up before 7am.

Good luck!

Alyson

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

Picture of Alyson Schafer

Author: Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at http://alysonschafer.com/

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