If you find yourself facing the challenge of your child refusing to sleep in their own bed, take comfort in the fact that you are far from alone. Perhaps you began co-sleeping intentionally or the arrangement came about as a reaction to any number of circumstances. However the situation began, some experts suggest that by the time a child is in elementary school they can reap many benefits from sleeping in their own bed.
The process of transitioning from the family bed to the individual one can be daunting, but keeping some simple tips in mind can help make that process a little smoother for everyone.
Talk With Your Child About Upcoming Changes
Set aside some time to explain to your child that sleeping arrangements are going to be changing and what they can expect to happen. Be honest with your child, but avoid going into the minute details that may cause your child to feel anxious about the process. A positive and confident attitude on your part can help ease your child’s worries and provide reassurance that the transition is in everyone’s best interest.
Encourage Positive Associations With Bedtime
Creating a peaceful and calming atmosphere in your child’s room can help promote feelings of safety and restfulness. Spending extra time talking, reading, singing or snuggling can help ease your child into bedtime and reassure them you still love being with them even if you won’t be sleeping together anymore. Your child can choose a special toy to be their bedtime buddy, or the family pet could become their roommate. A gentle nightlight may be helpful if your child is afraid of the dark, and soft music may help lull your child to sleep.
Follow a Consistent Approach
In all likelihood, the process for your child to transition to spending the entire night in their own bed will take some time. There may be some middle-of-the-night whispers from the doorway or appearances at your bedside. When these happen, calmly and quietly return your child to their bed. Tears and arguing may ensue, and it may seem easier to simply give your child what they want so everyone can at least get a little sleep. However, investing the time and effort is worth it. With a consistent and calm response from you, your child will eventually learn that the new rules are here to stay.
Even if your child doesn’t have a perfect night, focus on the positive and reward all progress. Even small attempts should be recognized and encouraged. Some children may respond well to inexpensive toys or other small items, while other children prefer a sticker reward chart. Whichever system you choose to use, the most important aspect is to ensure your child knows their efforts are being noticed and applauded.