get our son out of our bed! We've been trying since he was old enough to be in a
toddler bed but nonetheless chose to come into our bed — every night — in the middle of the
night. He'll be 6 in March. Problem is, my husband can't sleep when our son comes
in — he is a big sideways stretcher sleeper. Sometimes it keeps me up too,
but very rarely. In fact, I don't mind that much except for the fact that it
hurts my husband's sleep. That, I don't like.
tried bribing (LEGOs, Pokemon cards, cake for breakfast). As soon as the bribe is too much, he's right back in.
I feel he's scared
and needs comfort. As a result, both my husband and I don't feel like tough
love (locking our door, etc.) is okay to do to a kid who is already
scared of the dark and being alone. Obviously, we'd love it if he slept in his
own bed through the night.
This is one of the most common sleep issues for older kids,
so No. 1 is to know that you are certainly not alone.
The first step is to make sure he’s falling asleep
independently in his room at bedtime (without anyone there as he drifts
off). It’s really important that the conditions at bedtime and through the night
are exactly the same (parent’s presence vs. alone). Assuming that’s already
happening, I’d suggest you (1) help him feel comfortable and empowered to be in his
room and (2) give him the clear boundary and new arrangement.
First, let’s make sure he has all the “stuff” he needs to
feel comfortable. His cozy blankets, favorite stuffed animal. I’m sure you’ve
already tackled that, but it really helps to do a once-over on the room to make
sure it’s the most sleep conducive possible.
Next, talk to him about ways to
feel comfortable in the dark. For example, turn the lights off together, play with a
flashlight or light up toys, and talk about how his bedroom is the same at night
as it is during the day — all his favorite toys and books, everything is just the same.
Brainstorm some “techniques” for getting comfortable (self-soothing), like
flipping over his body or his pillow to “change the channel” on a bad dream, or
having YOU give his stuffed animal “10 hugs” before bed in case he needs them
at night. Include him in the process of coming up with these and practicing.
Then, you want to establish the pattern of him falling back
to sleep in his own bed. When he comes into your bed, gently walk him back to
his own bed and tell him you will check on him in five minutes. Follow through with a quick
little succinct check. Keep checking on him until he’s asleep. If he pops up
out of bed, you’ll need to walk him back to his bed. Say a short sentence
(reassuring but short) and walk out again. At first, he may keep popping up, and
you can keep walking him back.
The most important thing is to fill him in on the new plan
before you start. Let him know exactly what you will do when he comes into your
bed that night.