Feb 25, 2014
Post By: Children's Health
If the only way your child knows how to fall asleep is for you to rock him, let him sleep in your bed or rub his back, then chances are he has a sleep-onset association disorder — a sleep disorder where a child's ability to fall asleep is connected to something in his environment.
“Kids, and adults, often wake up multiple times each night; they just don’t remember it because they go right back to sleep,” says Psychologist and Sleep Disorders Expert William David Brown, Ph.D., from Children’s Medical Center.
When a child has a sleep-onset association disorder and needs an environmental factor (such as you) to get back to sleep, he will cry, fuss or do whatever he has to do to get you back in the room so you can help him get back to sleep.
According to Dr. Brown, the best way to treat a sleep-onset association disorder is with the Extinction Method (often called the "cry it out method"); however, some parents have a hard time with it and elect to follow one of the other, less upsetting methods. These methods are designed to teach your child to fall asleep independently at all sleep times.
Dr. Brown says that while these treatment methods are very effective, parents should expect the behavior to get worse before it gets better. “Stick with it,” he says. “If the behavior gets worse at first, that means it’s working.”
Leave us a comment to tell us about how you help your child to fall asleep.
Sign up to get updates on what's new at Children’s Health!
Thank you for subscribing to the Children's Medical Center Newsletter.