Sleeping in Their Own Room

Posted on May 14 2015

Some children have their own rooms right from birth, and so are used to sleeping in their own bed, in their own space. Many other children, however, co-sleep with their parents/caregivers, whether that be in the same room or in the same bed, and when the day comes to transition to their own room, there may be challenges. When I told our family members that we co-slept with our first child, most of them responded somewhat negatively. The most common response was, "That's a bad habit to start! They're never gonna want to leave your bed!" At first I rolled my eyes, and a few times I got a little irritated, but after awhile I just had to laugh. After all, very rarely do we hear of a 15 year old who still sleeps with his/her parents. And really, if everyone involved is fine with that arrangement, who cares?? (Oh, and my daughter is now 5 1/2 and she sleeps in her own room for the most part.) Still, for many parents who share their room or bed with their children, there comes a day when they feel their child is old enough to sleep in their own room (plus, the privacy is a plus). If your child is reluctant to move to another room, what do you do? 1. Don't force it if your child seems fearful. It is more traumatizing to a child to be forced into something unknown than to gently and gradually make the transition. Listen to your child to see what it is that makes them hesitant about sleeping in their own room, and ask them what might make it feel more comfortable. 2. Try to make it fun! Use this opportunity to focus on the most awesome parts of having your own room. Let your child pick out paint, bedding, and accessories (like night-lights), and furnish the room with all of your child's favorite toys, books, and art supplies. Dream up a theme with your child if they're really into one particular thing (fairies, robots, outer space, etc) and emphasize how much fun s/he will have once their room is finished. 3. Don't bribe them. You want your child to sleep in their own room because they want to, not because they think they're going to get something if they do it. Understandably it can be so much easier to say "If you sleep in your room tonight, I'll buy you that giant Lego set you've been wanting tomorrow!" but this completely defeats the purpose of getting your child comfortable with the idea of having their own room, and it will likely backfire the next night when you don't have something quite so grand to offer as a reward. (On the same token, do not punish your child for not sleeping in their own room. I don't think an explanation is necessary as to why.) 4. Be willing to spend time in your child's room at night. Even if your child is over-the-moon excited about their new room, when night comes and it's time to go to sleep, your child may suddenly begin thinking about the fact that s/he isn't going to be in the same room as you anymore. Comfort your child and offer to stay beside him/her until they fall asleep. Read, sing, or talk softly to create a peaceful atmosphere for them. Over the course of the next few days or weeks (let's be realistic), you can begin to leave the room before your child completely falls asleep, until they are able to fall asleep on their own. 5. Spend some time in your child's room during the day, too! Show your child how much you love their new room by playing with them in it. Build with blocks, make a lego city, dress up Barbies, read, play a game.... By spending time in their own space, they will know that it isn't just a room to sleep in, but a room where everyone can come and play! lego-708086_640_large Remember that your child has been used to a particular sleeping arrangement for some time, so transitioning may bring some hurdles and upsets. Try to remain calm, compassionate, and nurturing, letting them know that you understand their fears and hesitations, and that you will work through it together. Our Resident Mom, Lindsay Lewis


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