All too often your child comes into your bedroom, pitching a fit that he wants to sleep in your bed. Exhausted, you and your husband let him. You may not have intended to have a family bed, but that is exactly what you are getting. Many parents throughout America are sleep-deprived because of a similar scenario and share the common goal of just wanting their little one to sleep in his own bed.
Although it is possible to retrain your unwelcome guest, it may not be easy, according to the Parenting website. Be prepared for many nights of tears, wails and accusations of abandonment. Stick with the program if you want it to work.
Prepare Your Child
Start getting your child to sleep in her own bed by first planting the idea in her head long before bedtime. Sometime after lunch, tell her that she has her own room with her own bed to sleep in just as mommy and daddy have their own room with their own bed. You can also read her a children’s book about children who sleep in their own bed. If you don’t have or can’t find such a book, you can make one yourself using stick figure drawings on paper that you staple together, suggests the Parenting website.
Establish a Routine
Once you start preparing your child for his own bed, you cannot go back to sharing your bed again, according to the Parenting website. It helps to have a bedtime routine. If you don’t have one, establish one now. A usual routine can include a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, a bedtime story and maybe a song, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Put your child to bed in his room. If he comes into your room when you are in bed, take his hand and walk him back to his bed. Do not prolong the process by bringing water or reading another book. Simply tuck him and kiss him goodnight. Your child may wildly protest, but you need to stick with the program.
More Difficult Cases
If your child is not the type who pays you middle-of-the-night visits, but who always sleeps in your bed, you will have a tougher time. In such cases, the Parenting website recommends you bring in a comforter or sleeping bag and camp out in your child’s room all night. If you lie there only until she falls asleep, if she wakes up during the night, she will come looking for you, but if she sees you sleeping near her, she will not be anxious and will probably go back to sleep. Do this for two or three nights. Then, you can sit in a chair just until your child falls asleep. The next night, sit in the hallway until you have made it back to your room. Then, you may have a child who visits you during the night. When that happens, you will simply walk her back to her bed.
Some children don’t want to sleep alone because of nighttime fears. Give your child some tools to empower him. If he is afraid of the dark, set up a nightlight or give him a flashlight. If he is afraid of a monster under his bed, give him a spray bottle filled with water that you dub “monster spray.” Talk to your child and see if he has any suggestions that will help alleviate his fears, suggests the Dr. Alan Greene website.
- pretty young child sleeping image by les sanders from Fotolia.com