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The first night of working on sleep was a nightmare. I didn’t even try for a second night. Help.

Couple in hiking gear looking shocked

My answer: 

This is really a common phenomenon with parents of livewires – not just around sleep. The first time we try for a new strategy, our child blows up in our face. I mean, the pushback is huuuuge. It makes total sense that we feel like we’re torturing them by changing their familiar pattern. After all, they can act like they’re dying. But they’re not. The first time you really make any change to a livewire’s routines, they are going to clock the change and let you know that they’d prefer you didn’t do that. I frequently

tell parents that there is no change so small that they won’t notice. You cannot “sneak one past” a livewire. Not possible.


Here’s the tough love part of this: You have to push through the first big burst of blowback. For the parent who asked this question, I would have told them that the second night would absolutely have been better. Parents stop on the first night when that is absolutely the worst of it. You have to give any change a teeny bit of time. At first livewires will be outraged, then annoyed, then frustrated. But if you give them time to get their brains around the change, they really can be great at detecting a new pattern. The trick is that you have to clearly lay out the pattern and then repeat it as consistently as humanly possible. Always treat the first time like that first tester pancake you make. Everyone tosses that one: too light, too dark, shaped funny. The next pancakes are always better. Same with making changes with your livewire. You have to push through the pushback…at first. 🔆

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