I like to use the term “sleep coaching” in my work, instead of “sleep training” and wanted to discuss a little why I like this term better. I feel like coaching implies a more interactive approach, you can coach a child to do something but they have to be involved in the process.
Like a soccer coach, the parent is coaching the child to sleep well. A soccer coach will teach children basic skills first before expecting them to know how to play a game well.
So we work on small skills first with sleep, working with a child to learn how to spend some time alone, working on them knowing that their room and sleep area is a safe place. Once they learn small skills, then we can start expecting them to learn the larger skill, sleeping through the night.
And if the child has trouble, a good coach will help them learn, not scold them for not playing well.
If the child is having trouble playing the game, a coach will not get in the game and play for the child or the child will not learn. While sleep coaching, if the child is having trouble falling asleep, if the parent put the child to sleep, they are, in essence, playing the game for them.
I like to think that when I work with a family, everyone is involved in making the changes and supporting the child. I am the coach for the parents, coaching them through, then the parents in turn coach their child, helping them learn how to play the “game”, which in this case is sleeping well!