Nov 24
Parenting Paragraph – My 5 yr old won’t sleep in her own bed!

Q. My daughter is 5 and sleeps in our bed every night. It was fine when she was little but it’s impacting my sleep and my relationship with my husband. She refuses to go to bed in her room; how do I get her to sleep in her own bed?

A. Great question! Since many parents start their newborn in or next to their bed for ease of late night feedings parents unintentionally transition toddlers into sleeping in their bed out of habit. Research indicates there is no reason (health or otherwise) to have a child in your room after 12 months of age. At 5 years old, the transition to her own room needs to be intentional, gradual and scheduled – each part of the process should be planned and the switch should not last more than a week. Begin with a conversation about her sleeping in her own bed during the daylight hours so she knows she’s not being “forced” to sleep in her room in that moment. Always focus the conversation on the benefits of sleeping in her own room and continue to have the conversation 2-3 times a day for a couple of days. The next step is have her practice sleeping in her room during the day; have her lie on her bed for 20 minutes and then talk to her about how it feels to be a big girl sleeping in her own bed. It may be helpful to sit with her during this time, however it is not necessary.

After a couple of days of daytime trials it is time to bring her to her room at bedtime.  Sit near her bed, or lie with her in bed for a little while, but it is important to let her know you are NOT staying to sleep with her. The process is about building her confidence and resilience and that starts with her trust in you. You don’t want her to wake up in the middle of the night thinking you will be there only to find you are gone. This is the toughest part for most parents. Your daughter may resist staying in her room or going to sleep the first couple of nights. You must stand firm.

Although the goal for the daytime practice is to prevent major outbursts during the nighttime transition, a toddler’s mind responds with emotion, therefore this type of change will likely result in a heightened emotional response. Do not respond to her emotion. You must do what it takes to get her to stay in her room. Integrity with your word about her sleeping in her own bed is vital – if you show her she doesn’t have to make the switch she won’t. It also sets the expectation if you don’t follow through here you won’t follow through in other areas of parenting either. Focus on the benefits of her sleeping in her own room and stay strong so as a family you can all rest easy.

laughingLaura Treonze, serves as Chief Life Strategist with LMT Consulting, which helps executives and teams create massive success through self-awareness. Her life-changing approach has transformed individuals and families and has redefined the way non-profits and corporations “do” business.