Anyone facing sleep challenges with their young child knows how frustrating and confusing it can be. It seems everyone has a different opinion on how to fix the problem and each opinion contradicts the last. There are countless books touting the perfect solution and yet there are still so many sleepless families. How can you possibly be successful with all of this conflicting information? The answer is you have to choose the method that feels right to you and then dive in wholeheartedly. Regardless of the path you choose the 3 C’s of Sleep Training can help you focus and do what is right for your family.
Commitment. The first golden rule of sleep training is that you must be 100% committed to the process. That is you must be willing to see it through from start to finish weathering all the storms along the way. For many families sleep training is an emotional journey so to be successful you must have a clear goal and a strong sense of tenacity. Without commitment you will find yourself wavering which will quickly send a confusing message to your little one and likely make your existing problem worse.
Consistency. The second golden rule of sleep training is that you must be as consistent as possible. Once you have chosen a sleep training method that suits your parenting style, individual circumstances and your child’s personality you must then be diligent about following your plan. Do your best to prepare for each possible scenario ahead of time by mapping out how you will react and what steps you will take. Decision making is not optimal when your toddler awakens you at 3am, therefore it is best to have a plan before these occasions arise. Additionally, you must stick to this plan as closely as possible to avoid unintentionally reinforcing negative behaviors. For example, your toddler gets out of his bed Sunday night at 2am and comes into your room and, as per your plan, you calmly walk him back to his bed; but then when he does it again on Wednesday and you are just too tired to deal with it so you invite him into your bed to get back to sleep you have now given him intermittent reinforcement of this behavior. Many researchers believe intermittent reinforcement may cause the behavior or habit to become much more difficult to reverse. So it bears repeating- Consistency, Consistency, Consistency.
Confidence. The third golden rule of sleep training is to be confident in your decisions and your action. This is often a very difficult task, especially for new parents, but nonetheless it is essential. Carry out your sleep plan with the assurance that you are doing the right thing for your baby. Babies and children can sense your lack of confidence and will react to it- so fake it until you make it- as the saying goes. Exuding confidence in your parenting will help your child learn to not only trust you but also trust themselves- a huge benefit of sleep training. So be sure to arm yourself with plenty of knowledge and a solid plan to help you sleep train with certainty.
A final note: Sleep training is a very personal journey between you and your child. There are no right or wrong answers as each family, each child and each situation is different. The 3 C’s can help ensure that whatever path you choose to healthy sleep will be a successful one. Sweet dreams…