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ASK MERRILY/Three-Year-Old’s Request

Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Mar 22,2010
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

ALEXANDRIA, VA. -  My three year old daughter has started to wake up in the middle of the night wanting to come to sleep on my belly.  While this is very cute, I don’t want to start a new habit that we won’t be able to continue.  We all get up early in the morning to get to school and work, and we all need a good night’s sleep.  She has also been slow to get ready for school and for bed.  To encourage her cooperation we have made a chart that we put stickers on daily as she cooperates.  The sticker chart has been successful with her 7 year old brother.  Do you think we can stop her middle of the night trips to our bedroom in this way?  Both kids actually enjoy sleeping on my belly, and I like it too, just not in the middle of the night.  

Tired Mom

Dear Tired Mom,

If the sticker chart has been successful in encouraging your son to cooperate, then your daughter may already have a positive attitude toward it.  Try it with her slowness in getting ready for school and bed.  But, as every child is unique, she might need a different approach altogether.  

Her desire to sleep on your belly may be an expression of a deeper need that she is articulating very well in her 3-year-old way.  Is she missing intimate time and closeness with you - perhaps reminiscent of her babyhood?  Look at your life to see if it has asked her to grow up quickly, or if it has become very busy.  Has there been a change which may seem small to you but which may feel major from her perspective?  Is there any reason she would be lonesome for mom?

Make time very soon to invite her to sleep on your belly, maybe before she goes to bed.  Do this several times for the next few days until she loses interest.  If you do not take her request seriously and address it soon, it may become a little hole in her emotional security blanket.  She may forget how to ask for nurturing as so many of us have.  

Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks. Email questions to, or use online form at

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