A Parent’s Guide To Teaching Your Child To Sleep Alone

Who’s been sleeping in your bed?

If your child is waking you up at night wanting to climb under the covers with you, you could be missing out on the rest you need to handle your responsibilities at work and home.

More importantly, it’s important for your child to develop the confidence to become more independent.

As long as you’re prepared to withstand some fussing and crying, you can stop battling over bedtimes. Consider these suggestions for helping your child to stay in their own room so your whole family can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Steps To Take For Your Child

1. Provide reassurance. Fear of monsters, burglars, and other imagined dangers are often the reason why your child wants you by their side. Validate their feelings. Comfort them after a nightmare and give them a stuffed toy to hug.

2. Spend time together. Your child may also need more attention. Schedule one-on-one time during the day for baking cookies or taking an outing to the petting zoo.

3. Talk it over. Ask your child what would help them sleep in their room. If they have trouble putting it into words, try making drawings or acting out the scene with sock puppets.

4. Start early. Naturally, it’s easier if you begin the process before they can walk to your room on their own. It’s simpler to prevent the habit than to break it.

5. Train in intervals. If your son or daughter is already used to late night visits after scary movies or thunderstorms, you can still create new routines. Tell them you’ll check on them every 10 minutes if they stay in their bed. Increase the intervals over time.

6. Proceed gradually. If your child needs more persuading, there are interim steps you can use. Sit by their bed until they fall asleep or let them sleep on an air mattress on your bedroom floor temporarily.

7. Be boring. This is one of those rare occasions when you want your kids to shun your company. Limit conversation and cuddling so hanging out with you isn’t much fun anyway.

8. Add lighting. If you’re lucky, your child may just be afraid of the dark. A night light or flashlight they can control could be a quick solution.

9. Offer rewards. Going to sleep on their own is a big achievement. Give your kids praise or small treats for the nights they cooperate. Stickers and sugarless gum are good choices.

Steps To Take For Yourself

1. Examine your motives. Be honest with yourself about the role you might be playing in the situation. Parents sometimes encourage their kids to share their bedroom, especially when they like their company or want to avoid communicating with their spouse. It may be time to bond more during the day with your child or see a counselor about your marriage.

2. Create a barrier. Do you wake up in the morning surprised to find that your child slept in your bed? Hang a bell on your bedroom door or keep it locked so you can monitor the situation more closely.

3. Be firm. Persistence pays off. If you refuse to make exceptions, you’ll be able to reclaim your bedroom faster.

4. Model good sleep habits. Once each family member is enjoying their own bed, you can help them have sweet dreams. Stick to consistent bedtimes and limit late night snacking and TV.

It’s easy to drift into bedtime habits that compromise your rest. Almost 24% of parents say their kids sleep in their beds sometimes, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

However, if you’re consistent and positive, you can turn things around so you and your children sleep peacefully and apart.

2 comments comments closed

  1. Ahah ! It’s very funny because it’s my little girl on this photo with her dad, and she don’t sleep alone since… almost three years ago!

    The fact of sleeping each in its bed is very “occidental” (westerner?). It is a necessary mothering for the good construction of the child. THE UNICEF is fortunately among the first ones to recognize the benefactions of the cosleep.

    It is an ancestral practice considered completely normal and natural in the major part of the world, often for years. If all the African youngs or the Asian youngs had problems of autonomy and remained hung on on their parents, it would come out! On the contrary, the cosleep allows to answer the emotional needs for the child. He allows him to feel safe, gives him confidence, and it is exactly this base of safety that will allow him to develop its autonomy!

    According to the theory of the attachment: ” it is only when his needs for closeness are satisfied that an individual can go away from his figure of attachment to explore the outside world “. The cosleep favors a secure attachment, a springboard towards the autonomy:)

    Furthermore, if we let them make, all the small children show one day the need to take their independence of the bed of their parents. As well as we speak about the natural weaning of the breast, we could speak about ” natural weaning of the parental bed ” (on average around the age of 3 years). We have never seen a teenager needing his parents to sleep! ;)

    • Hi Caroline;

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for letting us share the lovely photo. What a funny (but ironic) co-incidence.

      Co-sleep can be a good alternative, for sure. I am sure you know about the controversy surrounding the issue and have made a good decision regarding what is best your family.

      Just so others reading this know, some health officials are concerned about the growing popularity of this arrangement, due to the dangers an sleeping adult’s body can pose to a baby sleeping in the same bed, especially if the adult has had too much alcohol. One study done in Santa Clara, California found that 27 infants died over a five year span as a result of being placed in the same bed as a sleeping adult. Accidents were caused by the adult rolled over onto the child, or the child suffocating after becoming entrapped in bedding or an adults clothing.

      Of course, there are the benefits, as you have pointed out. And yes, it is a very small percentage of all the co-sleeping children. Just saying, it is not without risks, no matter how small they may be.