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Early Riser Wakes Sibling Who Shares a Room

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Sharing Room When One is an Early Morning Riser

(Update: I originally wrote this thinking the younger child was 5 1/2 months old, but in reality she’s 2. Her 5 1/2 month old sib is in another room.  That doesn’t change the advice but I did correct the age to be accurate in the first paragraph below.)

Many people have their kids bunking together in the same room. That created problems for one mom who wrote me for advice.   Her 5 1/2 month old was stirring at 5:15 am and since she didn’t want the baby to wake up her 5 yr old son, she would come move him out of the room and into her bed.  That causes the toddler to have a 20 minute screaming fit.

I want to point out to everyone that even at 5 1/2 months and 5 years we are still dealing with the basics of sibling relations and problem ownership.

Who owns the problem?  Why it’s the 5 yr old. After all, he is the one who is being woken up by his 5 1/2 mo old room mate do.   

When mom steps in and takes the 5 yr old to her bed, she is not only solving his problem that he owns with his sister, but the perception of the baby is that she is also siding with the older child, because removing him is really sending a message that mom feels his right to sleep superseded her right to get up. 

Instead, let the 5 yr old deal with the problem he is having with his sister.  He may sleep through it. He may decide to go over and calm her down, he many decide to leave and come to your room on his own.  He may crawl into the crib with her and rub her back and they fall asleep together.  All are fine, but they are his way of dealing with her. From her perspective she will see how her waking affects her brother rather than how it affects the three of you, which starts getting rivalry dynamics into play.

If he complains to you about her waking you can help him think of solutions, but let him own this problem and deal with it himself.  I promise it will have a better result in both the short and the long term.

I can tell you that this mother already tried my advice and reported back success immediately.  I hope this helps others, and am grateful for permission to share this tip with other readers.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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10 Responses to “Early Riser Wakes Sibling Who Shares a Room”

  1. Sharon Saad

    I am desparate for a solution to a similar naptime issue. Can you suggest ANYTHING!
    My 19 month old goes down for a nap at 1 pm. My 3 year old goes down about 1:30 pm. The the three year old calles for me and talkes, claps or even kicks and at times will wake up his little sister who has at this point only slept for 45 mins (her normal nap lasts for 1.5 hours. Then, she is awake and he falls asleep once I have lost my temper with him and get up his little sister.
    I have tried, it feels like everything to get him to BE QUIET! What consequences can I give that will work?
    I think this is the #1 offence that burns me up in all of child rearing. HELP!

    Reply
  2. Jessica

    I am having similar sleeping issues by 2.5 year old wakes up early then pokes her older (4)sister until she wakes up. Older sister needs her sleep. Older sister is now having sleep issues. How do I fix this? If I take older sister out so she can get more sleep lil sis scream and bangs on everything thing I. Her room basically she loses it. But if I do nothing older sister is woken up too early for her and he is a royal terror the rest or the day?

    Reply
  3. Alyson Schafer

    Hi Sharon, I am sure you must be frustrated. Sounds like your damned if you do – damned if you don’t. How about trying this: Explain to the 2.5 year old that if she would like to sleep with her sister, then she must allow her sleep until her wake up time. If she can’t manage that, then she will lose the privledge of sharing a room with her. Move the sister into another room ( maybe a sleeping mat on the floor in your bedroom if you don’t have a guest room) and let her sleep there the next night. At bedtime, ask the 2.5 year old “would you like your sister to sleep in here? Then you must let her sleep in the morning” Let them try again. Repeat until she puts together its BETTER to not wake her. You may also want to help her find something else to do for amusement that won’t wake others. PLace a pile of books on her bed when you check on her before you go to bed, for example. Let me know if this helps. Alyson

    Reply
  4. Alyson Schafer

    I am sure you must be frustrated. Sounds like your damned if you do – damned if you don’t. How about trying this: Explain to the 2.5 year old that if she would like to sleep with her sister, then she must allow her sleep until her wake up time. If she can’t manage that, then she will lose the privledge of sharing a room with her. Move the sister into another room ( maybe a sleeping mat on the floor in your bedroom if you don’t have a guest room) and let her sleep there the next night. At bedtime, ask the 2.5 year old “would you like your sister to sleep in here? Then you must let her sleep in the morning” Let them try again. Repeat until she puts together its BETTER to not wake her. You may also want to help her find something else to do for amusement that won’t wake others. PLace a pile of books on her bed when you check on her before you go to bed, for example. Let me know if this helps. Alyson

    Reply
  5. Pamela

    My issue is the reverse and sadly my 4 month old can’t own the issue. What would you do when older siblings refuse to quiet down and let the baby sleep?

    Reply
  6. JT

    Thanks! I’ve had an issue ongoing for months now where my 2 girls are at each other’s throats (not literally) each weekend. My eldest (boy) and eldest girl are full siblings whereas my youngest girl is their half sibling.

    Hence the three of them only see each other when they come to stay with me (mostly weekends). The girls share a room (and a bunk bed) and recently my 5 y.o. has been waking the 10 y.o. by singing or just generally making ‘noise’ when she gets up.

    So far I’ve been trying to quiet the 5y.o. down with no luck. If anything my efforts just lead to her getting noisier. I was already thinking of putting the older one on a mattress on the floor in my room and now I’m going to try it for 2 reasons –

    1. To see if I can’t get the little one to conform a bit to keeping the volume down first thing in the morning (could be anywhere from 6.30 am onwards). You can understand the older kids wanting to lie in on a Sunday…

    2. To some extent I feel the older sister is exaggerating her level of annoyance and using this as ‘ammo’ to spend the rest of the day ‘sniping’ at the younger one. I think it’ll be interesting to see how long she is prepared to put up with my snoring during the night in comparison to her little sister’s singing first thing in the morning….

    If all that fails then unfortunately it’ll be separate nights for the younger and older girls because the bitching is becoming impossible and is making the contact unworkable…

    Reply
  7. Ivy

    I have a similar situation excluding the fact that my sister is the one who wakes me up EVERYDAY at 5 in the morning (I am only 15 years old). I am getting sick of it since I barely sleep each day from school work. Sadly, she doesn’t listen!! Every other day, however, she asks me to leave her room and make sure that I do not wake her up since she takes afternoon naps at an age of 18. This is super ironic since I never wake her up and it is always her that wakes me up. I’m getting sick of this repeated situation. Help.

    Reply
    • Alyson Schafer

      I am not sure why your sister chooses to bother you in this way. Clearly she knows its a way to irritate you. Chances are something else is bugging her about you and this is her retaliation. Maybe talk to her about how you could get along better in general. She may feel envious or jealous of you?

      Reply
  8. JR

    My brothers ages 4 and almost 7 woke me up early by arguing this morning. This is normal, and it doesn’t help that me and my sister are painting the bedroom that we share, so we’re sleeping in the living room. HELP!

    Reply
  9. Ashley Zombro

    My situation is similar: but my 3 1/2 year old and 15 month don’t share a room.. Lately she has been going in her room in the am.. And my babe likes to sleep in.. My 3 year old has has sleep issues from a baby bc I never sleep trained her… And she is just now learning the ability to self-soothe.. I am sound asleep/just waking up!! And as soon as I hear her door(my lil one) it’s already too late!!!! I dread waking up.. Bc I would like 5 mins to just get a breathe in.. Or grab my coffee and it’s also completely throwing off my younger child’s schedule! I used to be able to wake up, spend a lil time w/ my older 2, and cook breakfast before my baby would even wake bc she’s such a great sleeper!! No matter what I say to my middle child, she doesn’t care or seem to realize the consequences!!!

    Reply

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