How to Get Your Kids Out of Your Bed and Back into Theirs
You tuck your little one into bed, hopeful that this will finally be the night that he’ll sleep all night long — yet like clockwork, he makes it over to your bed and crawls right in. “Should I get up and take them back to bed?” you wonder, bleary-eyed. “I am so tired, I have to get up in 3 hours… forget it. It will be okay just one more time.” Sound vaguely familiar?
We’ve all dealt with late night visits from our kids. The first few times, you probably had a ton of compassion and patience, but over time, it wanes as you end up cranky and frustrated from a lack of sleep.
Human beings spend one-third of their lives sleeping, and on average, your little one sleeps 10 hours per night— that works out to be roughly around 3650 hours a year spent in slumber. At the same time: None of us, child or adult, ever truly sleeps through the night.
The Lowdown on Night Waking
According to doctors, night wakings are simply a normal part of our sleep cycle, but some people are just better at falling back to sleep by their own devices. The majority of toddlers and small children have yet to master the ability to comfort themselves back to sleep—especially if they rely on us to help them drift off to la la land. It only makes sense that if they’re having one of their nocturnal awakenings, they’re going to make their way to our bed and expect us to lull them back to sleep.
Of course, even if your kids are champs at falling back to sleep on their own, there are lots of fears and events that can trigger periods of sleep disturbances, such as monsters, ghosts, nightmares, change of routine, illness, loss, etc.
In many cultures around the world, a family bed is part of the norm – but it’s definitely not for everyone. For all those parents out there who have no issues letting their children co-sleep in their beds, more power to them! For the rest of us, here are some tips to create bedroom boundaries:
Discover the Source
The first step in getting our little ones to stay in their beds through the night is to figure out the underlying cause of their sleep disturbance.
The problem might be something as simple as a scary movie that triggers a fear, and they find comfort through us until it becomes a habit. Maybe the problem is us, and we are unconsciously sending out the message to our child that we don’t want them to grow up too quickly. It may even possibly be motivated by the jealousy of a younger sibling. The bottom line is we need to ask our children questions and get to the bottom of the problem.
Getting our little ones to face – and eventually conquer – whatever it is causing their sleeping issues may take some time. To expect them to suddenly go cold turkey after we have given into them countless times is unfair and unrealistic.
Our goal should be to gradually move them in the direction of autonomy, and that will take some patience. One way to help our little nocturnal visitors reclaim their sleep mojo is to have a little sleeping bag and pillow handy next to our bed, and transition them down there when they make their nightly trek to our bed.
Once we have successfully gotten them out of our bed, then we can begin to gradually get them out of our room.
Teach Them to Soothe Themselves
Our main objective is to teach our kids how to soothe themselves when they wake up in the middle of the night, looking to us for comfort. We can do this in a variety of ways:
- If our child isn’t able to fall asleep without your presence, you have to slowly withdraw yourself from the scenario. Rather than lying in bed with them, it’s more effective for you to sit by their bed until they fall asleep, gradually moving farther away each night.
- If there is some kind of a nighttime phantom to blame, there are ways to help your child to conquer their fears. You can create a nightly ritual by putting a magic force field around their room before turning out the lights, placing their stuffed animals in bed with them, saying a night time prayer of protection together, or giving them a nightlight or flashlight in case they wake up. While a little over-the-top, I found that recording my voice with empowering little personal stories of my daughter’s bravest moments was helpful when she woke up during the night.
- You can also offer incentives or rewards if they conquer the urge to head our way during the night. I had a little box of treats that my daughter was allowed to pick from when she wouldn’t come to my bed the previous night. I also made sure to give her lots of praise and positive reinforcement.
When it comes to your children making their way to your bed, the best defense is a good offense, and that is to teach them independence early on.
When my kids were tiny, their father and I took turns each night lying with them in their beds until they fell asleep. While there were short periods of nocturnal visits off and on through the years, this initial ritual built a strong foundation for our kids, sending them off to slumberland feeling safe and protected, and giving everyone a good night’s rest.
How do you put an end to your kiddo’s middle-of-the-night visits? Share your tips with us!Tags : baby toddler sleep training