Night fears are common for toddlers


Q. My 2 1/2-year-old daughter has been sleeping in her toddler bed for months. For the past two months, however, she's been waking up crying about four hours after going to bed. Then, she does not want to sleep in her bed or room. She wants to sleep with my husband and me.

Sometimes I am able to get her to go back to her bed, but minutes later she is up again.

For a while, she was telling us that she was scared. We did everything to reassure her, but she still does not want to stay in her room.

What is your advice?

A. Do you know whether there's been a trauma that set this off? This may be a time of a new adjustment for her that could explain her fears.

Fears at night are common at this age. Your daughter is asking for more support at night. I would certainly plan to go to her room when she cries. Sit by her, or put a pallet in there so you can sleep next to her. The alternative would be to let her sleep with you - but that would be hard to change later on when you want her to sleep alone.

If you support her through this, it may not last very long. Help her feel proud of managing to sleep by herself.

Maybe changing her into a youth bed so early gave her "permission" to wander at night.

Q. My 3-year-old son has recently become fixated on the colo blue. He wants to wear blue clothes, drink from blue cups, eat blue food, play with blue toys.

It is really becoming a problem, because when he doesn't get the object he wants in blue, he will throw a temper tantrum. We have been giving in to him, but I know that this is probably the wrong solution.

I would appreciate your advice.

A. Why not give in to him? It will pass, and he may get fixated next on red. I'll bet you are feeling manipulated, aren't you? He certainly knows it pushes your buttons, and that makes it more fun.

Questions or comments should be addressed to Dr. T. Berr Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column; Dr. Brazelton regrets that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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