The Importance of Consistency When Sleep Coaching
We all know it's important to be consistent as a parent, but it can be hard; especially in the middle of the night when we are tired and not thinking clearly. But with sleep coaching, you need to be very, very consistent. If you are trying to move a child out of your bed and into a crib, you need to keep him in the crib every night, not most nights. Your child will not understand if you nurse him to sleep or lie down with him on Tuesday, but let him scream for 90 minutes on Thursday. Or why you won't take him to your bed at 1:00 AM, but you will at 4:00 AM. Babies and toddlers can't tell time! He's going to cry.. it's his way of saying, "Hey, what's going on here? It's late and I'm tired and I need to go back to sleep. Why can't I get into your bed now when you let me do it yesterday?"
If you aren't consistent, you'll send your kid mixed messages that'll confuse him. Babies, toddlers and other young children can't decipher what type of behavior merits rewards and what type of behavior doesn't. For instance, if you're inconsistent, even a very young child may know that if he cries long enough he can elicit a certain response from you, at least some of the time. So he may cry until you come take him out of the crib and into your bed. But if on another night he cries and you don't take him into your bed, he won't get it. He'll only cry longer and harder. In other words, your inconsistency is creating even more of the behavior that you are trying to avoid! And intermittently reinforced behavior takes longer to change. Understanding intermittent reinforcement is the cornerstone to successful sleep coaching!
To be successful with sleep coaching, you need to decide on routines, set your goals and follow through. If you aren't consistent, you'll just make it harder for you and your child. The best way to minimize, and then eliminate, bedtime tears is to have a consistent plan. Decide on a response to his awakenings and then stick with it. Your child may protest the change for a few nights he may even wake up, but if you're consistent, he'll learn how to sleep. Children actually crave consistency at bedtime and ALL the time. It reassures them. They know what to expect and what is expected of them, and it helps them feel safe and sound. It's truly the key to sleep success!
Do you find yourself sending your kid mixed messages? Do you say "no more potty at night" and then cave and let him have another go? Do you say, "No mommy bed tonight" and then drag your kid into your bed? Give me an example! Share your thoughts in the comments below!
More sleep advice articles:
- Commit to Getting Your Kid to Sleep
- Educate Yourself About Your Child's Sleep
- Start a Sleep Log
- Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine
- Create a Sleep-Friendly Bedroom
- The Importance of Putting Your Kid to Sleep "Drowsy but Awake"
- The Sleep Lady Shuffle: What It Is and How To Do It
- Do Step 1 of the Sleep Lady Shuffle
- Do Step 2 of the Sleep Lady Shuffle
- Do Step 3 of the Sleep Lady Shuffle
- Be Your Kid's Nap Coach
- Check Off Your Sleep Coaching Checklist
- Create a Solid Sleep Plan
- Nightmares and Night Terrors (And How to Tell the Difference)
- Potty Training and Sleep
- End Early Rising
- The Sleep Lady on Transitioning Your Kid from a Crib to a Big-Kid Bed
- Ending Bedtime Stalling