Miss E is a “fiercely independent and sensitive” 24-month-old girl who had a unique family story. Her parents have been struggling with her sleep for a long time. They had tried so many training techniques without success and had reached out to medical professionals repeatedly. Despite all of their efforts, they were still struggling.
They recently went through a sleep clinic at the local children’s hospital which not only made Miss E’s symptoms worse but was agonizing for mom and dad. In the end, she was diagnosed with “behavioral insomnia,” had no sleep improvement, and sent away with nothing else that could be done. Mom and dad were left without support.
This brave family reached out to me for one last try. They were so exhausted. Sleep was terrible for Miss E and a significant family stressor. To add on top of it, their second child was due in less than 2 months, and they knew their current situation would not be sustainable with a new baby in the house.
Miss E had currently been sleeping in bed with Mom and Dad as a result of family exhaustion, however, had in the past been sleeping in her own room and in a crib. She actively resisted bedtime with screams and defiance and needed to be rocked to sleep. She was taking extended periods of time to fall asleep and was waking multiple times throughout the night. Mom and dad wanted Miss E to learn how to self-settle in her own crib and room for both naptime and bedtime while eliminating the frequent wake-ups.
We needed to change sleep from a negative experience into a favorable time of the day for the whole family. We didn’t need to cause any added distress for Miss E as she and had been through it all already. Together, I carefully worked with mom and dad to formulate a method that would be emotionally and physically stainable for everyone. And I would be there to support everyone the entire way through this process.
Within the first two days of starting our plan, mom and dad were seeing improvement with her attitude about bedtime and finding hope that they were doing the right thing. “I know we may see a few more bad days and nights, but we are blown away by how quick she is catching on … this time feels so different.”
After just a week of working together, these discouraged parents were amazed at Miss E’s progress. We moved her to her own space and established a rules and rewards system based off of mom’s description of Miss E’s personality. She earned stickers and created a sleeping area for her doll to mimic expectations. Not everything was perfect yet, but things were headed in the right direction this time, and through patience and consistency mom and dad now understood how to respond to her needs differently. Miss E’s whole attitude changed! She wanted to help mom around the house, listened and followed directions better, and was much happier during her awake times.
As the due date for baby #2 approached, mom felt more at ease. “Miss E has never been away from me overnight as I was worried she was too much to handle with her poor sleeping. Now I feel so much less stressed about how she will do with sleeping while I am in the hospital.”
After the baby’s arrival, we did see some regressions as Miss E adjusted to the new addition, especially since she didn’t have a long time to practice and master her new sleep skills before her sibling joined the family. She tested boundaries again, fought her nap time, and gave her parents a few hard nights. Yet mom and dad have been caring and consistent in how to respond. They have supported her as she worked through this new phase creating special bonding time with just Miss E which is an essential factor when introducing a new sibling to the household. With a little time, she will settle back into her positive sleep routine.
This beautiful family had such amazing courage to not give up and continue to seek out guidance despite everything they had tried.
“This has been such a great experience, and I think I have learned a lot about how we handle Miss E’s sleeping and what she needs to be successful … this time has been so different than any of the other things we have tried. But we did so many things different this time and got a completely different outcome.”
If you feel a change is needed for your family, never give up hope!