Getting a stubborn older child to sleep in his own bed all night long is much more difficult than sleep training a baby—an excellent reason to begin sleep training as early as possible. Here are step-by-step instructions for getting opinionated toddlers to sleep through the night in their own beds:
1. However stubborn your child is, decide that no matter what happens, you are going to be more stubborn than him.
2. Tell your child in advance that he’s a big boy, and he needs to sleep in his own bed. This way he’ll understand your expectations. If you live in a condo or an apartment with thin walls, warn the neighbors they may hear some screaming for a few days. If you live with Grandma and Grandpa, tell them they’re just going to have to put up with the wailing for a little while.
3. After bath time, read books together with your child.
4. Before you fall asleep, give your child a hug and a kiss, and say goodnight.
5. Leave the room.
6. When your child follows you out of the room, gently but firmly walk him back to bed with minimal excitement or interaction.
7. When your child follows you out of the room again, repeat step six.
8. When your child follows you out of the room for the 75th time three hours later, and you’re ready to collapse from exhaustion, stay strong, and DON’T GIVE IN. Dig your heels in and follow through. Eventually your child will get tired, give up, and go to bed. Never let your child sleep in your bed again. 100% follow through is essential.
9. Celebrate by having a date night with your partner!
PS. I learned the “walk-back” technique from Super Nanny 911. It really works.