The other day, I was browsing through Facebook and I came across this brilliant video of a author giving an analogy for parenting teenagers, and how it's like a roller coaster. While my two littles are many years away from entering their teenage years (thank goodness!), I couldn't help but watch the 90 second video. I'm so glad I did, because in this video, I heard a message that I find myself telling parents when we're embarking on their child's sleep journey -
Watch the video to see what I mean.
Such a GOOD message, right?
But how does this relate to sleep training?
Sleep Training Roller Coaster
During the beginning of my time with my families, I share a lot of important information about sleep, what to expect, and the importance of consistency, how incredibly important it is to be consistent when teaching your child new sleep skills and habits.
So in honor of the above message, this is my take on the roller coaster that is sleep training:
When you make the decision to start sleep training, you are likely making changes that your child won't like in the beginning. You are changing what is considered to be their norm, and the rules have changed on them. In effect, you've become the safety lap bar on the Sleep Training Roller Coaster.
When you start the ride (figuratively), your child will protest, push, and test you, the figurative safety lap bar. They are not testing you to see if you "fail", or change your mind. They are hoping... confirming... that you are going to be consistent. A reliable force in an environment of change.
Each subsequent interaction further down the Sleep Training Roller Coaster: a night waking, getting out of bed, a request for an extra book, needing to go potty for the tenth time, throwing the pacifier or blanket out of the crib. All of those events are tests against the safety bar. Checking... hoping... confirming that it'll hold. That you will hold.
Starting the Sleep Training Roller Coaster can feel really uncertain for your child, they're learning a new skill that feels really different and even tough. They will be looking to you for comfort and reassurance that they are okay, that they are safe. They are also looking to you as a stable presence while they navigate the new changes occurring at bedtime, during the nights, and at naptime.
Confirming and Holding the Consistency
So keep in mind, while you're starting the journey of sleep training, that your reactions and how you handle the pushes and prods are part of the process. The sooner your child believes that you are holding firming in the changes, and that you are not withdrawing your support and comfort, then the sleep training roller coaster will turn into an experience that is more like a fun ride that leave you and your child euphoric at the end, when everyone is sleeping well. Sure, your child may continue to test you as the ride goes on, but it's not out of defiance or to be difficult. It's making sure that you will hold.
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.