I'm looking for some advice. I'm a first time father, and my wife is a first time mother. We have a three year old son.
We started having trouble putting him down to bed when he turned two. He wasn't talking, yet. So, when we would put him down to bed, he would scream bloody murder, climb out of his crib, and pound on the door screaming! At first, my wife would just keep going back in there over and over and over, and even lay with him until he falls asleep.
We would get advice from books, blogs like this one, doctors, friends and family and they kept telling us not to do that anymore. They would tell us to just let him cry and scream himself to sleep, and eventually, he will stop doing it. So, we got him a toddler bed because him climbing out of his crib wasn't going to stop, and it was very dangerous. And, he just let him scream himself to sleep. That worked....for a while. He would go to bed peacefully, until he started talking.
Now, he's three and talks up a storm. Now, at bed time, when we put him down, he screams, "MOM!, MOM!, MOM!, MOM!, MOM!, MOM!, MOM!" over and over and pounds on the door. We tried just letting him scream himself to sleep, but he will literal do that for HOURS! He doesn't give up now!
Sometimes, my wife goes in there because he literal screams like he's being hurt, and all he wants is another hug and to say goodnight for the MILLIONTH TIME! He even goes as far as screaming that he's hurting, by screaming, "MOM, MOM, OUCHY!" And, when she goes in there, he just comes up with something random, like another hug, or to say goodnight again, or water again, or another blanket, or another animal to sleep with, or leave the door open, or close the door, or leave the light on, or turn the light off. And, as soon as she gives him what he wants and leaves the room, he starts screaming and pounding again.
My wife doesn't believe in spanking, and I'm going along with it. So, we don't do that kind of discipline. Sometimes, telling him we will take his toys away or that he can't watch his cartoon in the morning if he doesn't go to sleep will work, but most of the time it doesn't do anything.
We have found one thing that works every time, and I'm really embarrassed to even mention that we do this. It just seems SO wrong to do, but we've tried EVERYTHING that we could think of!
Here is how it started. We put him down like any other night. He started screaming at the top of his lungs, "MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM", pounding on the door and crying. My wife left for the store. So, I went in there and told him to stop, and he kept screaming, "MOMMY HUG, MOMMY HUG!" So, I said, "Stop it! Mommy is not here!" He instantly stopped and went to sleep. So, now, when we put him down to bed and he starts screaming, I go in there and tell him that mommy isn't home, and he goes right to sleep.
It works, but it seems so wrong to do. What exactly is the problem here? What can we do to fix this?