Transitioning a child into their own bedroom can be a daunting experience. Historically, kids have always tended to sleep alongside their parents, and going it alone in a big dark room can trigger a type of separation anxiety. Even kids who have long since transitioned to their own room may enter a phase when they leave their own bed to climb into yours, perhaps for attention or because they’re going through an anxious phase. Here are some tips for handling these situations:
- Recognize that if you’re trying to get a child to sleep in their own room after an extended period of time sleeping in yours, it may take some time to get them accustomed to this. You may have to endure longer bedtime rituals at first so you’re leaving the room only after they’ve fallen asleep. After a couple of weeks of getting them used to the room, you can start utilizing our other advice to bring the routines into line.
- Some kids might do better if you break them into the task gradually. For example, start by telling them they need to sleep in their own bed 1 night per week, and each night ask them if they’d like this to be the night. If they haven’t chosen by the end of the week, designate the day and then go from there.
- Offer your child a comfort item of yours from your own room. This can be something like an article of clothing, pillow, or pillowcase. This often helps children make the transition, since it has the familiar scent that provokes comfort. You can also by a stuffed animal that parents can record their voice into. The child squeezes and it plays the recording. This might help some children go to sleep on their own.
- Tie independence to privileges. Don’t just say “big girls sleep in their own bed. “Outline how big girls who start sleeping in their own bed may enjoy big girl status when it comes to other issues throughout the day.
When kids won’t stay in their own bed and try to climb into bed with you
- As tempting as it may be just to scoot over when your child crawls into bed with you, stay strong and walk them back to their own room.
- If your child has a habit of sneaking in while you’re sleeping, attach a bell to your doorknob so that you can hear him coming in. Then quietly escort him back to his own room.
- If this doesn’t work after several nights, try implementing some of the incentive systems discussed in our sleep training and sleep solutions area.