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I have an almost 3-year-old daughter who refuses to sleep on her own without mommy’s bed and mommy in it. Nine months ago we were hit by a driver chasing a dog in his vehicle which spooked her. In the first month after the incident, she would wake up screaming scared but she slowly realized she was okay and the night terrors faded.

However, since this awful day she has refused to sleep anywhere but my bed and only with mommy. I have tried multiple things people recommended but nothing is working. She’s on a bed time routine and schedule and she follows it perfectly as long as she’s in my bed.

She is making it impossible for me to sleep because every time I move over a little she wakes up and moves right up next to me I have tried moving her to her own bed but as soon as she gets in her bed she instantly wakes up screaming and comes back to my bed. I have tried melatonine I have tried laying in her bed with her and I have tried rewards for just simply laying in her bed. Nothing seems to be working.

She sleeps so spread out her father hasn’t been able to squeeze into bed and has to resort to sleeping on the couch and way it's messing with my sleep schedule is driving me insane messing.

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At three years old, I expect the child is quite capable of communicating her needs if asked the right questions.

I think it is critical that she is involved in the problem solving, she needs to want the same thing as you for this to be successful, but keep in mind that this is a you-problem. She has found a strategy that works for her and satisfises her needs. The current situation is probably fine to her, but her solution is problematic to you, and you need to work together to come up with a solution to her problem (desire for consolation, perhaps), that doesn't give you problems.

  • Bring this up when the situation is not acute. Don't take the fight when going to bed, have a discussion in the morning.
  • Be clear with her on what is a problem and what isn't. Too much focus on the outcome, that she should sleep in her own bed, could come across as her just not being wanted in the bedroom. She might reasonably want to contest that. Focus instead on the actual problems. You are waking her up at night. Dad can't keep sleeping on the couch. She can understand that these are problems, and be more inclined to cooperate.
  • Give her agency. Ask her when she wants to sleep in her own bed. Make a plan together. She might be ready, as long as she doesn't feel forced. Ask her how she wants to transition. Should there be an interim period sleeping in her own bed but in your room? Does she want a night light on? She may have ideas on her own that are more agreeable to you than your current situation. Maybe she'd be happy with a big gong or something, that she could use to wake you up at night, if she needs you to come? Screaming in terror obviously has the same effect already, but this may give her a sense of control. She may play with it in the beginning, but if it helps her yield to sleep, she won't use it while sleeping.

Get her on board with why the problem needs to be solved. There are certainly aspects of this problem that she can relate to and that will make sense for her to accomodate into her own solutions.

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