Your child is growing up and it’s about time that they learn to sleep on their own. However, your little one refuses to leave your side, and even if they agree to leave your side, they come running back to your room every night. Getting children to sleep on their own is a challenge that many parents tend to face after having their kids sleep in the same room as them for so long. There are some tips and tricks that can help you succeed in getting your little one to be a little more independent, at least when it comes to sleeping.
Control environmental factors:
Make sure you create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Turn down the lights, remove any distractions likes toys and television that might keep your child up and in a mood to play. These factors start to act as automatic environmental cues that it’s bedtime and will prompt your little one to feel sleepy.
One effective way of getting your child to go to sleep in his/her own bed is to make sure that your child is all burned out from the day so much so that he/she is on the last thread trying to stay awake. A child that’s had an exciting and eventful day tends to be pretty pooped out by bedtime and will agree to go to sleep pretty much anywhere. Another helpful way to induce sleepiness is a warm glass of milk. This is often very relaxing and can increase sleepiness.
If your child is used to sleeping next to you, it’s going to take a bit of time to get used to the idea of sleeping alone. Make sure this change isn’t too drastic and sudden as this could be traumatic and may be ineffective in getting your child used to the idea of sleeping alone. Start off by maybe tucking your child in and checking up on him/her every 5-10 minutes. Gradually, increase the duration of time between check-ups until your child falls asleep without you present. If your child can’t get used to the idea of sleeping without you initially, you may have to sleepover at his/her room, but make sure not to share the bed. Then your child will gradually get used to you not being present next to him/her.
Establish a routine:
Establishing a before bedtime can help your child take positively to sleeping alone. It creates constancy and routine and helps psychologically prepare your child for getting into bed alone which can help reduce the idea and establish a sense of comfort. This nighttime routine can include things like drinking milk, brushing teeth, putting on pyjamas, getting tucked in, a bedtime story, etc.
Create a sense of security:
Much of the difficulty in sleeping alone arises due to fear in children. One thing that can be really helpful for your child is to feel safe and secure when they’re going to sleep. Things like checking for monsters and ensuring your child that the room is safe can help in creating a sense of security. Another tip would be to show your child how close by you are - maybe make him/her call you and show them how little time it takes for you to reach. Tucking your child can also help them feel protected. When they’re just starting out, maybe sit beside them for a while until they fall asleep and when they wake up in the morning without you, they may feel confident about themselves for having made it through the night alone. Using a fun night-light in the initial stages can give the room a friendly atmosphere which could create comfort and reduce the idea of danger associated with being alone in the room.
If your kid comes back in the middle of the night and sneaks into bed, be firm while telling them that this behaviour is not acceptable. Escort them back to the room and try not to give in to their sadness or fear in this regard. This will reinforce the idea that that behaviour is not allowed and will not be entertained. This is due to the lack of reinforcement of the behaviour that involves your child running to you in the middle of the night.
When it comes to escorting your child back to your room and your child sleeping in their own room, there needs to be consistency. Allowing your child to sleep in your room on a random day or letting your child in your bed in the middle of the night can lead to confusion or reinforcement of the fact that enough trying will lead to being let into your bed. This could prevent your child from falling asleep in his/her own room as they’ll keep trying to get into your bed because of the possibility of being successful.
When your child makes it through their first entire night alone, provide a lot of encouragement and maybe even reward your child with a special breakfast. This will motivate them to repeat the feat. Keep providing encouragement until your child becomes accustomed to it and it becomes the norm.
Keep in mind that when it comes to kids and their behaviour whether it’s potty training, tantrums, or sleeping alone, it’s essential to be patient. Kids take their time to learn, but they do learn. They go through many changes which is why they take time to get accustomed. These can be helped along with support and encouragement.