- Posted by spectrum
- On November 28, 2017
Why is it important for children to sleep in their own beds?
Many children feel a sense of security by sleeping close to their parents. This can cause problems not only for your child, but also for you. Children who continue in their parent’s bed do not face their fears and will continue to be afraid of sleeping alone. They do not learn how to calm themselves down, and do not see that everything will be ok. Co-sleeping makes it difficult for parents to get a good night’s sleep or find alone time with a spouse or partner. Even though most parents know it is not appropriate for their child to be afraid of sleeping alone, they are unsure of how to change this behaviour.
Teach your child to fall asleep alone
• Explain to your child that many children are afraid to sleep alone, but it is important to learn how to, otherwise you worry who will be the boss. Use children’s books to teach your children about worry and sleeping alone.
• Gradually increase the distance between you and your child at bedtime
• While you are making these changes, reduce the amount of attention you pay to your child, such as talking, facial expressions, or eye contact
• If your child is upset provide reassurance quickly (less than a minute) and only give limited physical or verbal contact. Gently but firmly say “it is time for you, you are okay”
• Increase the time between reassuring visits
We all wake up briefly during the night and often we will never remember these waking’s. If we do not know how to fall asleep alone we will struggle to do so during the night. It is important to normalise anxiety.
You can also try to focus your child’s attention on the benefits of sleeping in his or her own bedroom, including:
• For younger children, being a “big boy” or a “big girl”, and sleeping alone.
• Getting to sleep in a bedroom that is all his or her own! If your child shares the room with a sibling, make sure each child has a personal space that they can decorate.
• Older children and teens may look forward to future sleepovers at a friend’s house, or camping trips with the school.
It may be unrealistic to expect your child to be able to sleep alone immediately. Instead, you can make a fear ladder with your child, with the goal being to “sleep in my own bed for the entire night”.
Creating a fear ladder:
• Start off with simple goal, such as only agreeing to check on your child once or twice during the night
• Giving your child a baby monitor or walkie-talkie to use when sleeping in bed alone
• Anything your child feels will help them to gradually stop sleeping in your bed is a step in the right direction!
And don’t forget
Use lots of praise to encourage your child when they achieve small goals towards sleeping in their own bed.
Promote daytime behaviours such as increasing physical activity and reducing caffeinated food and beverages.
Lastly, be a good role model! One of the first steps in creating a positive and predictable environment is to take stock of your own daily habits and ways of coping with your own anxiety. Use the coping tools to manage your own anxiety and share appropriate examples with your child. After all, you are the single biggest influence on your kids!!