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Subject:sleep poll
Time:12:13 pm
(Things to bear in mind: he won't have to always go to bed alone, he'll be spending probably at least the next decade sharing his room with at least one brother, so this is a temporary problem until Sam is old enough to safely share a room. Also, any routine that works now will be horribly disrupted by a house move in a few months time, when I will go back to co-sleeping with him to help with the trauma that follows another house move.)

I am really interested in opinions regardless of whether we agree on sleep issues and whether you have children or not.

Your 3 yr old is not able to get to sleep one night, after a fairly successful few months of being able to fall asleep on his own with music and a lighted mobile. (But a few times/wk he falls asleep with you lying beside him, and he likes that better.)

You lose sight of him on the video monitor, but he is quiet. You go into the room and he is completely enveloped in a blanket in the middle of the bed. The blanket is moving up and down like he is panting. This continues for a few minutes - he doesn't appear to know you are there. Eventually you lift the blanket and are greeted with surprise and happiness to see you. He is alert, surrounded by stuffed animals, and he says,
"Momma! I was hiding with all my animals from the monster. We are in a rock. The monster can't get us! I was scared. Scared of the monster, so I was hiding."

Poll #1415737 overprotective mom or negligent mom?

What do you do?

Admonish him for playing instead of lying down to sleep. Dismantle the cave and lay him back down on the pillows.
1(16.7%)
Feed into the fantasy by talking with him about the monster and his cave in order to encourage his use of fantasy play to help him cope with scary situations.
2(33.3%)
Feel like a terrible parent for leaving him alone to be scared of monsters.
1(16.7%)

How do you end the interaction?

Say goodnight and leave him alone again with the cave.
2(33.3%)
Tuck him into bed, say goodnight and leave him alone again, no cave.
1(16.7%)
Tuck him into bed, say goodnight and leave him alone again, with a warning not to rebuild the cave because it is sleepy time not play time.
2(33.3%)
Stay with him until he falls asleep.
1(16.7%)
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hannawy
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Time:2009-06-14 07:50 pm (UTC)
Okay, I obv have no kids, this is based on stuff I vaguely remember from my childhood, and if he seemed scared I'd stay with him until he fell asleep. My parents were big on routine, still are for that matter, and it's something I've carried with me, but it also means that I find it difficult to cope when my routines are disrupted. Also, no idea if this is helpful, but I could always sense when they were going out later, esp my dad, and I'd just not fall asleep and it drove them insane. /rambling
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telemicus
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Time:2009-06-15 08:49 am (UTC)
That is so interesting about routine. I have always held routines to be the holy grail of answers to our parenting problems because we are so NOT big on routine and everyone suffers because of it. I have never thought of how coping happens with disrupted routines - I'm just always fighting to have a non-disrupted routine. Hmmm. Food for thought.
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bellabrigida
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Time:2009-06-14 08:04 pm (UTC)
I don't want to click any of the options because none of them are what I would do. I'd tell him there weren't any bad monsters, I'd reassure him, I'd talk to him about a bad dream and what it means. I'd kiss and hug and then put him back to sleep.

That said, children wake in the night to play. My daughter doesn't anymore, but she did and I had to remind her (at 3 am) that it was not play time, but sleep time in the world.

I mean, a lot of it depends on the motivation. Is he really scared? Or is he playing a game?
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telemicus
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Time:2009-06-15 09:03 am (UTC)
It is good to hear of different options, I get so stuck with polar extremes, thank you. I honestly don't know if he was really really scared - I know he was a little bit, but it definitely wasn't to the point of being debilitating :/
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twirlingecho
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Time:2009-06-14 08:05 pm (UTC)
I checked the first two options on what I'd do, cuz I'd do a combination of the two... I'd talk to my child about the monster and the cave and why she was scared. And I'd try to help her understand that monsters are pretend and reassure her that she and her stuffed animals are safe in our home. And I'd tell her that when she's scared she can hug her animals and even hide under the covers, but I'd also remind her that she can pray and ask God to help her not to be scared. As we talked, I'd dismantle the cave and lay her back down. I wouldn't admonish her, but I would help her settle back down to her normal going to bed mode.

And then I'd stay with her until she went to sleep. And I wouldn't feel one bit guilty about either leaving her alone to start with or staying with her later when she seemed to need me.
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telemicus
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Time:2009-06-14 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for writing this, I think my thinking in extremes is part of the pp anxiety, and will even out. But left to my own thoughts I often get stuck in a false dichotomy thinking that one way is abusively cruel and the other way is abusively smothering. I need fellow mommies to see things more clearly.
I like the praying part especially. There really is something so special in a child's prayers.

My Mum said something similar, comfort and talking it out, and then leaving him alone but telling him I'd leave the door open so I could hear if monsters came.
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ladycoreopsis
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Time:2009-06-14 09:39 pm (UTC)
Lumi very often plays in her bed a little bit before going to sleep. So long as she stays in bed and is playing quietly, she's allowed to play there until she falls asleep, which sometimes is a few minutes, and sometimes around an hour.

My thought is this: like adults, kids need to relax and unwind before falling to sleep. We need to forget about our troubles. So this kind of play seems very similar to the unwinding we might do before bedtime. See, I'm surfing the interwebz right now so I can forget about my "monsters" from my AWFUl, AWFUL run tonight. :)

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telemicus
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Time:2009-06-15 09:09 am (UTC)
Dude trees crashing around you as you do a half marathon?? Much much respect!

I like what you say about unwinding a lot, it totally fits him, and me. I am just so hugely excited by his developing imagination that I'll choose to encourage that even over a good night's sleep, and people's answers here have helped me to rein that in a bit. (But just a bit, nothing wrong with leaving him in the comfort of his rock I think :)
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rhiannonhero
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Time:2009-06-14 10:37 pm (UTC)
Did he seem afraid, or joyful and like he was having fun? I ask because Cecily sometimes likes to pretend to be afraid of things, but she's not actually afraid. I think I'd have left the cave and said, "I'm glad you're safe here in this cave, and remember that Mom is just in the other room and will always keep your safe, too. I love you, goodnight." And left the room.

If she seemed truly frightened, then I'd calm her down, and then repeat our bedtime routine. "I love you, goodnight. I'll check on you in 20 minutes."
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telemicus
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-06-15 09:05 am (UTC)
I honestly don't know if he was really really scared - I know he was a little bit, but it definitely wasn't to the point of being debilitating :/

My Mum said something similar, comfort and talking it out, and then leaving him alone but telling him I'd leave the door open so I could hear if monsters came.
I like your solution a lot and incorporated the elements of telling him I'd be back to check on him with telling him I would be nearby to keep him safe, seemed to go well so thank you!
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