Our toddler wakes in the middle of the night and wants to sleep in our bed. We've allowed this a few times but now realise we may have started something we don't want to continue. When we tell him he has to stay in his bed he screams the house down. Any ideas on how to handle this Nicole?
Your toddler is just doing what toddlers do. They are learning that they have the power to say ‘no’ and to get what they want by being difficult. Sleeping in your bed, as you know is much better than sleeping in their own. They have you for company just to start with. It is easy done and then you soon realize as you have, that you don’t want this to continue and he doesn’t want it to end. For the best sleep for you both, you know he needs to go back to his bed.
Unfortunately there is no other way around it then to say no and to stick to your decision. It is not a long ingrained habit at this stage so it is relatively easy to fix. This involves you taking him back to his bed everytime you become aware of him in your bed during the night. This means fighting the urge to keep sleeping and worry about it tomorrow and drag yourself out of bed and take him back to his asap. Or nudge your husband to do the same.
The screaming at this point is a means to an end for him. He knows that if he screams and screams you will eventually give in and allow him in your bed. Parents are often worried about waking other children or babies, the neighbours, neighbours wondering what you are doing to that child or generally just can’t listen to the screaming. He will scream for as long as it continues to work for him.
You don’t want him to scream then you will have to not give him what it is he wants - which in this case in your bed and company. Turn up the stereo and try to stay calm and just keep taking him back to bed or lock your door so that he can’t come in. As he is at an age where he understands so much, talk to him again and again everyday about what you want him to do at night, where he is to sleep and also a sticker or little stamp the next day for staying in his bed will work wonders once you get through the first few days of taking him back to his bed. You can easily solve this problem in a matter of days.