Getting children to sleep in their own beds has always been a concern for parents, but in the last few years the problem has exploded. It is so huge that a whole industry of professional services has appeared on the scene to help parents get their kids back into their own beds.
There have always been chapters in parenting books devoted to this problem, but now we see sleep specialists and sleep centers advertising their services to weary parents. New phrases have even been coined: Parents are sometimes referred to as “co-sleepers” while those who slip under their covers in the middle of the night are called “ambulatory children.”
The purpose of this article is to show you how to keep your child in his bed. First, I will tell you what won’t persuade him to stay put:
Expensive princess and airplane beds. Save your money.
Long conversations about being a big boy or a big girl.
Lying down with him until he falls asleep.
Promises of a trip to the toy store the next day
Sleeping with a stuffed animal wearing one of mom’s garments.
For many a child, sleeping with Mom and Dad trumps any incentive imaginable. That’s why many parents are stumped when trying to tackle this dilemma.
Why else do parents give in?
Getting a good night’s rest is easier than interrupting sleep to teach another life lesson.
They’re so overworked that they’re reluctant to work out one more problem at the end of the day.
They’re unwilling to set clear boundaries in their relationships with their children. Consequently, kids think they function like another adult in the household.
They don’t want to upset their children by saying “no” .
If all this makes you feel bad, take comfort in knowing that Hollywood celebrities are paying specialists $300 an hour to help them get their children to stay in bed.
So, what works? Setting firm limits, sending your child back to his bedroom and putting up with the crying. For one reason or another, this is something many parents don’t want to do. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix.
Remember, it’s impossible to raise children without saying “no” from time to time. Your goal is to help your child mature – to make him independent. He can’t do that without occasionally learning how to handle frustration and disappointment.
The only way to succeed with bedtime problems is to do what parents did a generation ago: Make it clear that sleeping with you is not an option. Ultimately, you’ll all sleep better for it. What’s more, your conscience can rest easy knowing that you’ve done right by your kids.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.