By Janet Bands
Leaving his/her bed and wandering around the house at night, is a habit which the child develops early and which can last for years.
The two year old who has learned how to climb out of his cot delights in practicing his new skill and does so repeatedly.
As the child gets older he becomes wiser and the night wandering often becomes more frequent. If his appearance in the lounge is greeted more with admiration than censure, he correctly realises that both he and his parents benefit by him joining them. When getting up at night shows fun and special attention, it now becomes the expected and preferred behaviour.
Having learned that getting up is acceptable the child may do so even after his parents have gone to sleep. I have heard of a three year old who would wake up, leave his bed, turn on the lights, look at books, tidy the lounge and then get back into bed.
Other children are not so accomplished at amusing themselves at night but rather they wander through to their parents room or call out to them, only to ask them to read or play or sleep with them!!!
The child who continually leaves his/her bed whenever he awakes, does not get enough rest. So his fatigue will affect his behaviour. To teach him that he must stay in his bed, he should be returned promptly each time he wanders.
Yes the child will not be happy but in the long run it will have such a positive affect for the growth and self-esteem of the child as well as many nights of peaceful sleep for the whole family…
Once a child has learnt to climb out of his/her cot, it is futile to expect him to stay in it. A low child’s bed would be the answer as this would stop him from climbing and would give him more space to move around.
Plenty of exercise, games, climbing, swimming, bike riding and other fun activities during the day with friends and parents, will decrease the child’s need to wander at night.
For more information contact Janet Bands, Teacher and Mentor, on 072 688 6800