THE CHILD WHO WAKES AT NIGHT: EXTINCTION

Sometimes called ‘controlled crying’, this is a steplike way of achieving the same thing, and may be more acceptable for some parents, though in many ways it is more demanding. They should go into the room, and stroke and reassure the child without picking him up, changing the nappy, or giving a drink. Once the child has calmed down, even if the crying has not stopped completely, the parent leaves the room. For continued crying, the parent then waits a longer period, say 3 to 5 minutes, before going in again, where the child is soothed by stroking and soothing, and then leaving. The next time the interval is increased again, until finally the child falls asleep. It is important to attend to the child in a less than enthusiastic way, so that he is reassured but not rewarded. This should continue each night until the child gets the message that the parents have no intention of backing down.

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