Your child was insecure at night.
You started the habit of letting your child sleep in the family bed.
Lately, you have been waking up in the middle of the night.
You are unable to get back to sleep because you feel like you are hanging on the edge of the bed.
Finally, you decide to get out of bed and go sleep on the couch.
Now that your child has gotten bigger, you want to stop this habit.
Are you finding that as your child gets older there doesn’t seem to be enough room in the family bed for everyone to sleep comfortably? Do you feel your right to sleep in a comfortable bed is being violated? If this is the case, you may want to consider changing the family sleeping arrangements. If your child still wants to sleep in the family bed or wakes up in the middle of the night and is insecure and lonely and comes into your bed, follow these guidelines:
- Explain that sleep is important because it gives the body energy to play and grow.
- Teach self-calming techniques such as humming, singing, listening to soft music, or doing quiet movements (rocking) to help children relax themselves.
- Allow or encourage the use of security objects so you don’t have to be present.
- Systematize your check-in routine: See the article “Do You Have Bedtime Battles With Children Because They Keep Coming Out Of Their Rooms” for details on how to use this technique.
- If your child is currently sleeping in the family bed, gradually move your child to your child’s room.
- o First, start your child out sleeping on a mattress/cot on the floor next to your bed (what was once the family bed). When your child wakes, hang your hand down and pat your child on the back, but don’t let your child in your bed.
- o Then move the mattress/cot out of arms reach. When your child wakes, use your voice to calm and tell your child to stay there.
- o Then move the mattress/cot to your child’s room or move your child into their own bed in their own room. If they wake in the middle of the night, they have several options and you choose which option to give them:
- They can come in your room but must sleep on the floor and not wake you.
- They can start learning self-calming techniques to stay in their bed.
- If they wake you, you’ll walk them back into their room and follow the guidelines listed in the the article, “What Do You Do When Children Wake In The Middle of the Night and Want to Sleep In The Family Bed?”
Getting children to sleep on their own is only one type of bedtime problem. For details on how to solve all ten bedtime challenges get the teleseminar that summarizes all my bedtime articles. Click here for more details about “The Halting Bedtime Hassles” teleseminar. This one hour audio contains the solutions you need to help solve all top ten bedtime battles with children. Click here to check it out!
Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.
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