Get More Sleep: How the ‘Excuse Me Drill’ Can Help Your Anxious Child

As a parent, the idea of having your baby cry it out during sleep training can be overwhelming and heart-wrenching. However, there are alternative “no cry” methods that can help your child learn to sleep through the night without the need for tears. One such method is the “excuse me drill” created by Dr. Brett Kuhn, a sleep behaviorist at the University of Nebraska.

What is the “Excuse Me Drill”?

The “excuse me drill” is a gentle sleep training method for children aged 3 and up who are anxious about sleeping alone. It is designed to give your child the opportunity to learn how to fall asleep on their own, while still providing reassurance and comfort. The technique is based on the idea that nothing is more comforting for a child than parental attention and reassurance.

How Does the “Excuse Me Drill” Work?

The “excuse me drill” involves the parent who normally stays with the child until he falls asleep (let’s say the mother) saying “excuse me, I need to step out for a minute and “brush my teeth.” “I’ll be back in a minute!” It doesn’t matter what the excuse is. Parents should return frequently at first, every few seconds on the first night. When they return, they should compliment the child on staying in his bed, acting brave, and so on. They are free to cuddle him. After making an excuse, they leave and return a few minutes later. Over a few nights, they should cut back on how often they check on the child.

The point of this method is that the child will eventually learn to fall asleep on their own, without the need for the parent to be in the room. By gradually increasing the time between check-ins, the child will learn to feel comfortable and secure in their own bed.

Benefits of the “Excuse Me Drill”

  • Provides comfort and reassurance to anxious children
  • Gradual approach to sleep training
  • Can be combined with bedtime fading for older, more anxious children

It’s important to note that every child is unique and what works for one may not work for another. It’s best to consult with a sleep consultant to determine the best sleep training method for your child. Sleep consultants can also assist in combining different techniques that may be more effective for your child’s individual needs.

In conclusion, while the “excuse me drill” may not be the right approach for every child, it is a gentle and effective “no cry” method for anxious children who are ready for sleep training. By providing reassurance and gradually increasing independence, this technique can help your child learn to fall asleep on their own and sleep through the night.

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