Ariana has learned how to sleep in her crib for 12 straight hours!!!! She is so very proud of herself and I am enjoying the sleep!!!
I want to share the story of how it happened because it pertains to both parenting and teaching.
For the last four weeks, I have been putting Ariana to bed in her car seat and later when she’s fast asleep transporting her to the crib.
I did this because when I put her in the crib in the early evening, she would wake up crying every half hour or so. Clearly she was not comfortable sleeping in her crib.
She ended up not getting solid sleep and neither did I!!!!!
When I put her in the car seat, she slept better and if she did wake up, I just had to rock the car seat a bit and she went back to sleep.
When I told people I was doing this, I got all kinds of well meaning comments: Don’t rock her so much….she will come to expect it…you are setting up bad habits by putting her in the car seat….the list goes on and on.
Their comments stressed me out because I knew that my goal was for her to eventually sleep in her crib.
I got so stressed out by this goal and the well-meaning comments that I decided to force the teaching upon her.
I decided that the very next night she was going to learn to sleep in her crib.
In my gut, I knew that it wouldn’t work but I went ahead and tried to teach it anyway..
Sure enough, she woke up crying numerous times and back in the car seat she went.
Even though I tried to teach her how to sleep in her crib, it didn’t work because she wasn’t ready for it yet. And because she wasn’t ready Ariana had a difficult night as did I ..no learning (or sleeping) took place!
About five days later, when I went to transport her to the crib, she was wide awake.
She wasn’t crying but she was wide awake.
This was a VERY different behavior because normally at this time in the night, she was sound asleep. Because it was so different, I took note of it.
I wasn’t sure what to do.
So I put her in the crib ( I kept the lights on as my plan was to only leave her room for a minute) and went to my room to think about my plan of action.
I fell asleep and woke up an hour later in a panic…first of many guilty mom moments!!!!
I ran to the crib and there she was awake and still not crying. I wasn’t sure what else to to so I turned off the lights and she slept peacefully for the rest of the night.
Once again, I took note of this new behavior.
Based upon my observations, I knew I had a teachable moment…I realized that she had changed..she had grown into a little girl who felt comfortable in her crib. Now was the right time to teach her to sleep in her crib for the entire night.
Sure enough the next night I put her directly into the crib and she is now sleeping twelve hours a night….I hate to say it aloud as I’m scared I will jinx it!!!
What did this teach me? When I tried to force her into learning to sleep in the crib it didn’t work. I forced her because of outside influences and goals I had for her.
What I had to do (which was harder) was to never forget the end goal of sleeping in the crib but to listen and watch her behaviors so that I would know when she was ready to learn it.
When I taught it at the wrong time, she did not learn it!!!!
The perfect teaching opportunity wasn’t years away ..it was days away and what a difference it made to wait just a few days to teach her to sleep in the crib.
I still met the goal pretty quickly but I met it by watching her carefully and teaching it at just the right moment.
What this mean for teaching?
Quite simply: You can force learning and at times we waste a lot of precious teaching time teaching kids things they cannot learn.
Our job is much harder than that!
We can’t forget the end goals that we and others place upon our kids but just like I had to watch Ariana’s behavior so I knew when she was ready to learn, we have to watch our students so that we know when they are ready to learn.
Keep in mind that a few days might make all the difference just like it did for me with Ariana.
Like always, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and comments.
Until next time,