Some parents swear by co-sleeping and that's fine. But for others, sleeping with a child generates worry and discomfort. Difficult awakenings can ensure, for the parents at least! Or simply, some couples want to preserve a space and time for themselves as a couple.
But all children ask, at some point in their childhood, if they can sleep with mom and dad. This can lead to long nights of trying to convince them to stay in their own room! We try everything; threats, promises, cuddles, silences, glasses of water, struggles against monsters ... It never ends!
Becky, from the blog Your Modern Family, wants her children to sleep in their own room, except for a few exceptions, as when they are sick, for example.
She is uncomfortable with the idea that her children are walking around the house when she sleeps. She therefore made a rule that they must stay in their beds until 7 am, because children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. (Toddlers and babies need it even more).
With her two eldest, Becky never had problems with children getting up. But with these two youngest, aged 2 and 4, it's a whole new learning experience.
She still wants to stick to having them sleep in their own beds, because, in her opinion, this leads to well rested, happier children who are better able to focus.
Mom (like any of us!) does not want to have to get up five times per night.
She agrees to sleep with them in their bed before they fall asleep. But not in her room, and not all night.
Several parents have asked her for advice on the subject, so here it is:
First, make sure your child is not sick and does not need to go to the bathroom to pee.
The first time they get out of bed, step in, and,
Becky says this:
When our daughter moved into a bed without bars, I watched her on her video monitor.
The first time I saw her out of bed, I went in and said, "No, ma'am. Back to bed, please. If you need mom, you say "MOM!" And I will come in. You do not get out of your bed. I'll be scared if I know you're not safe in your bed. Do you understand?"
She responded with a "hum hum". She started crying, knowing that she had not made the right choice and she put her hands on her eyes (that's what she does when she's upset). She did not get out of bed again until several months later.
Several months later, she made her second attempt. She's only two years old and I'm not comfortable with the fact that she is walking around without my knowledge because it's not safe, so, when I saw her, I put her back in her bed and I told her the same thing. She immediately went out. This is where the "true teaching" came into play.
Becky then tried a method she had seen used on the show Super Nanny she had tested on one of her sons when he was two years old. She promises it works.
Here's what to do:
After verbally correcting your child once, take him or her by the hand and firmly but gently place the child back in bed.
Do not lose your cool, you may need to do this 100 times!
Remember that bad habits can take up to three days to break, so give your child three days!
It works if you're not mean, you do not use force, you do not get angry and you're consistent.
Becky explains the steps of the method:
Let me give you the example with one of our sons: I sat outside his room and waited for him to come back again and again.
It took one night to put him to bed again and again until he stopped going out.
In night #2, this happened about 10 times.
By night #3, 0 times.
It's been several years, and he's never out of bed unless he's sick or scared or has to go to the bathroom. If he needs us, he calls us, but this doesn't happen often. After reading a story with him, giving him a sip of water, lying down with him and singing his goodnight song, he falls asleep.
Becky followed this same method with her daughter recently, but she only had to put her back to bed 4 times. The promise to leave her door open as for her brothers helped too.
Also remember not to let the bedtime rules interfere with your child's need to snuggle against you for a moment!
Here is a table that explains the number of hours of sleep that's best for your child and what you should be trying to get as a goal, according to their age:
source: Your Modern Family