It happens every night. You fall into bed after a long day and within minutes you hear the pitter-patter of little feet as your child races down the hallway to sleep in your bed. You put him to bed in his room hours ago, but he awakened like clockwork and is now climbing up to cuddle with you and spend the night. You love his tousled hair and sleepy gaze but you know this is a habit he needs to break. He has his own room, his own bed and his own space. Moving a child from your bed to his can be stressful–especially if he has been sleeping in your bed for any length of time–but there are things you can do to make the transition easier for him.
Send your child a positive message that sleeping in his own bed is a good thing; he is now a big boy and has his own sleeping area. Praising him throughout the day for following directions like a big boy will help him understand that he is now big enough to sleep in his room at night.
Move your child from your bed to the floor in your room for the first week. This provides the opportunity for your child to get used to the idea that change is on its way and that she can no longer sleep in your bed.
Tell your child that he can come to your bed when the light starts coming through his bedroom window. This gives him a sense of having some control over the situation and allows you to give him a concrete time frame that he can come back to your bed.
Set an alarm and discuss with your child that when the alarm goes off she can come to your room; if she wakes before the alarm goes off, she is to go back to sleep until she hears it. Start out by setting the alarm for middle of night when it is still dark. Gradually move the alarm setting 30 minutes later each night until your child is sleeping in her bed for the entire night.
Buy stickers and a calendar. Tell your child that for every night he stays in his own bed he can put a sticker on the calendar the next morning. After he has accumulated five stickers, he will be allowed to choose a special outing, or a special toy or something else as a reward. Slowly increase the number of stickers he has to accumulate until he is sleeping alone without the reward system.
- sleeping woman #6 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com