“I can’t sleep.”

When our kids wake us up saying “I can’t sleep.” it is certainly not music to our ears! One mom explained to her 7-year-old daughter, Amber, that the only valid reason for waking her up in the night was if it was a medical emergency.

Sure enough, when Amber woke her mom up in the middle of the night she said it was for a medical emergency. However, there was no medical emergency so as a consequence she took Amber downstairs for a time out. This upset Amber and made the whole process of getting back to sleep even longer.

In situations like these, it’s helpful to see our child as having a problem and lacking the skills to solve the problem. It’s our job to teach those skills.

With that mindset, what else could she do when Amber woke her up?
  • Instruct Amber to go stop at the bathroom. Kids sometimes wake up because they need to use the bathroom but aren’t fully awake enough to realize that this is the problem.
  • After that, walk Amber back to her room and tuck her into bed.
  • If Amber was worried about falling back asleep, Mom might choose to lie down beside her for a little while.
By looking at Amber’s behavior as a problem she needs help solving, there are many more positive steps available to help Amber find a solution.

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