When your three-year-old takes over an hour to fall asleep

Learn about: When your three-year-old takes over an hour to fall asleep from Laura Markham, PhD,...
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When your three-year-old takes over an hour to fall asleep

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Sometimes parents say to me, "my child just won't fall asleep. It takes an hour and 1/2 every night. He's 3 years old. What can I do to help them fall asleep?". We have to start by looking why the child is having a hard time falling asleep. 3 year old's are very little and they're aware that it's a big scary world, they're aware that you could go away and not come back. And can't really articulate that to us but they often have a lot of anxiety. 3 year old's need time everyday to giggle and scream with laughter. So that they get out some of that anxiety usually what we find is when they have that rough housing time with you, they settle down and go to sleep much more easily. Now they might have a hard time going to sleep without you in the room with them. But that's a gradual thing that that you can wean them away from having you there. And the way to do that is simply sit in the chair. You can touch them in the beginning. You can hold their hand but gradually you're not touching them, you're moving your chair closer and closer to the doorway. And then you're not even in the chair, you get off for just a minute to "I have to check a laundry" and you come back before they miss you, you're gone just a moment but gradually your chair like a century and the doorway and you're not there. You're getting on with your evening and your child has learned to fall asleep without you there with him.

Learn about: When your three-year-old takes over an hour to fall asleep from Laura Markham, PhD,...

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Laura Markham, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with countless parents across the English-speaking world, both in person and via phone. You can find Dr. Laura online at AhaParenting.com, the website of Aha! Moments for parents of kids from birth through the teen years, where you can sign up for her free daily inspiration email.  Dr. Laura lives in New York with her husband and her kids, who are now 17 and 21.

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