This age is just so horrible. Gotham Mom writes:
"My 3 1/2 year old has been a very good sleeper most his life, until dun dun dun, the 3yo sleep regression. He started to climb out of the crib, refused to stay in his room and then a week later we went on an international trip, six time zones away. This really screwed everything up. When we came back we moved his crib out and put in a bunk bed that he shares with his sister, and added a baby gate to the door and he settled into a good new routine.Remember when I used to joke about starting a ranch to make Trained Monkey Assistants that you could use to soothe babies back to sleep and pop dropped pacifiers back into their mouths and bring you glasses of water and the remote control when you were trapped under a sleeping kid? This would be the perfect situation for a TMA. The TMA would lie there on the floor next to your son until he falls asleep, then get up, have a banana, and watch some House Hunters until it's time to go soothe your son back to sleep in the middle of the night.
7 months later he still is getting up more often than he had before he turned three, and when he decided he no longer wanted his crib he also gave up his froggie, which had been his transitional object. I am now his transitional object, or his Dad, though Mom is where it's at. He goes back to bed well most of the time but prefers to have one of us cuddle with him (last night I was in there half the night and after I fell asleep in his room I dreamed that I couldn't get him back to sleep).
I asked him about his froggie tonight and he told me to "throw it away" or give it to the bigger boy who lives down the block. He needs something to cuddle with, but I would prefer it wasn't me or my husband all the time. Any ideas on how to reintroduce or foster a new transitional object!?
Ps older child is supremely attached to her blanket....thank goodness!"
Seriously, though, if he were 3, or 4, I'd say that you should just talk to him about creating a new bedtime routine that did or didn't involve a transitional object but didn't involve you being his transitional object. But since he's 3.5, his brain is all haywire and he could come up with a detailed plan with you about going to sleep and then a few hours later deny that he had any part in it and wig out. Remember that 3 1/2 year olds make no sense. And when you think they make sense, they're really just lulling you into a false sense of security so the next nonsensical tantrum will burn even more. It's like their spirit totem becomes the Venus flytrap for a few months.
So. I think you CAN introduce a transitional object, but you're going to have to be very sneaky and strategic about it, and use reverse psychology. I would pick something that is NOT cute and cuddly, but maybe something hard and a little fierce/scary, like a plastic robot or scary animal (something with sharp teeth). And then don't encourage it, and push on him a little about it (like asking him not to bring it to the dinner table, for instance) and express dismay if he wants to bring it to bed with him.
It may work or it may not. But froggie's dead on arrival at this point anyway, so it's worth a backhanded try with something else.
Has anyone done this at the age of 3 1/2? How did you do this and did it work and for how long?