How to Get Children to Sleep in Their Own Beds

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Children generally find their way into their parents' bed because the parents wish to have a lifestyle in which they share a family bed, or they have reacted to their children's anxiety or other sleep problem in the middle of the night by allowing them to snuggle up together, according to the National Sleep Foundation spokesperson, Jodi Mindell. Whatever the reason, transitioning children to their own beds requires time, patience and consistency. Parents can soon reclaim their bed as their own once again.

  • Decide when you are going to begin. If one of you are going away on a business trip, you are leaving for vacation next week or are undergoing a household renovation, it's wise to wait until everything has settled, according to the "Parenting" article, "How to Get Your Kid to Sleep in Her Own Bed."

  • Prepare your child by letting her know ahead of time what the new rule will be. If developmentally appropriate, brainstorm solutions to help her feel good about falling asleep and staying in her bed the entire night, according to Elizabeth Pantley, author of "The No-Cry Sleep Solution." Once you let her know this, stick with your rule in a firm and consistent manner, even if she screams and sobs, advises Parenting.

  • Walk him back to bed in the middle of the night, tuck him in and leave. However, if your child has been accustomed to falling asleep and spending the entire night with you, you may have to sleep on the floor in his room, suggests Jennifer Waldburger, L.C.S.W., co-creator of The Sleepeasy Solution, as this will ease any anxiety he feels about sleeping alone. Avoid getting into bed with him, as this can create a new problem.

  • Switch from the floor to a chair after three nights. Without interacting, calmly sit and watch your child until she falls asleep. Waldburger recommends moving the chair further from your child's bedside until you are kissing her goodnight and leaving the room. Remain unemotional and kindly lead her back to bed if she fusses or gets out of bed when you leave the room.

  • Praise your child and offer rewards for staying is his bed. Try making an announcement at the breakfast table each morning to honor your child's accomplishment. Reward him with a certificate after a week of sleeping alone. Another idea is to create a sticker chart shaped like a bed with a patchwork quilt. The object is for your child to fill in a patch each night he remains in bed. Offer him a small prize for every five stickers he earns and a larger reward when the quilt is complete.

  • Offer patience and encouragement when things don't go as planned. Tell her she can try again and to keep practicing. Be empathic and let her know you recognize her efforts. Before long, she'll master the art of sleeping in her bed.

References

  • Photo Credit David De Lossy/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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