We all know that when children share a bed with their parents, they seem to have many more nightmares, and they wake up more often. It doesn’t help if one of them would sleepwalk either because, in this case, the other child will follow them into the parents’ bedroom too. And so they all end up in your bed! You are tired, have little sleep or even none at all, and your children are cranky the next day. And so is Mommy too…
The following suggestions to encourage your children to stay in their bed should prevent this from happening…
Come up with a consistent bedtime routine.
Have the same thing every night before you sleep, so it becomes a habit. For example, my almost-three-year-old daughter will brush her teeth, have her “water”, get in her jammies, and then read two stories. She absolutely loves this!
If she doesn’t do it all before 7:00, she gets to stay up a little later.
Settle down for the night at the same time every evening, even on weekends! If they are used to going to bed early, then that’s what they will expect. If they are allowed to stay up late one night during the week, then it will only be harder to get them to stay in bed longer at other times.
Every night, before bedtime, make sure every child knows how they need to behave for the next hour or so. It can be as simple as saying, “It’s time to go to sleep now” – and if anything else happens after that, it’s too bad… They know what is going on, and you don’t have to repeat yourself.
In addition to a bedtime routine, make sure your children know exactly what is expected of them in the evenings before bedtime. They need to know what you want them to do and not do during this time to follow your rules if they want everything to go smoothly that night. This way, there won’t be any questions or confrontations during their time to settle down.
Set up a reward system.
Another thing that you can do is set up a reward system. This will help them understand that they are doing something good by staying in their bed instead of being rewarded with attention when they come into your room.
For example, give them a sticker every night that they stay in their own bed all night long. When they have enough stickers, they can have a special treat, like staying up late one night to watch a movie with you.
Give them another sticker the next day for not coming into your room at all until their morning wake-up time. This way, there are additional rewards for good behavior!
Again, ensure that you are consistent with the expectations and rewards you give. If you don’t follow through with it, then your child will become confused and wonder why they are getting these stickers in the first place.
Don’t cave when your child does come into your room at night!
This can be difficult, especially if you’re tired or just plain worn out. But if you let them into your bed every night, then they will expect it. You want to catch them before they get into your bed; this will be hard enough! So when they come in the first time, just say “Goodnight!” and close your eyes.
If you have to go out of the room for any reason, put them back in their bed before you leave. Don’t let them come into your room again that night (unless it’s an emergency, of course). They will learn the first time if you are consistent with your response to them!
If they come in again, just say “Goodnight!” and close your eyes again. This may be hard to do, but it will work if you keep to your rules.
If they continue coming in again and again after multiple attempts to send them back to their bed, then come up with a consequence. For example, you will leave the room and go to another bedroom, or you can even go downstairs for a few minutes.
Don’t make the consequence too long, because you don’t want them to fall asleep on the floor or something! But it should be long enough for them to understand that they can’t continue to climb in your bed when you have told them not to. Eventually, she will get the point and stay in her bed all night long!
With these tips and tricks, you should teach your children what is expected of them during the calm-down time at night. They must know exactly what they can and cannot do, or else it will become a constant battle – making everyone miserable in the process.
If you are consistent with your rules and consequences, they will learn what is expected of them.
Limit your child’s consumption of caffeine.
Limit your child’s consumption of caffeine. The effects of caffeine are potent and long-lived, so even though they may not show signs of hyperactivity after drinking a soda or eating chocolate cookies, the effects may linger for hours, which will make it difficult to get them to bed.
It is suggested not to let them drink caffeinated beverages after 3:00 pm. For those who like soda, it will be better to serve them diet or caffeine-free types of soda.
On the other hand, it is also a good idea not to let your child go to bed on an empty stomach. Give them a light snack high in complex carbs and lower than usual in fat before going to bed. Some good examples are a sandwich, cereal, and toast. In this way, you can prevent your child from getting too hungry at night, making them crave food like sweets and chips.
Limit sugar intake.
Limit sugar intake, as sugar will only give them bursts of energy for a short time, and then they will crash, making it difficult for them to sleep.
Sugar can also cause hyperactivity, which will raise the levels of blood sugar and insulin in the body.
Before you put them to bed, give them a warm glass of milk, which can be considered a nature’s sleeping potion.
Milk can help them sleep, and it is also a good source of calcium which will keep their bones healthy.
Along with these tips, make sure you set a bedtime routine for your child.
Explain the benefits of sleeping in their bed.
You must explain the benefits of sleeping in their bed (not yours) to your children. You can do this several times and at different times of the day.
Explain that you love them and that your bed is only for mommy and daddy to sleep in. It is not for them to sleep in because you want them to get the best rest they can, so they need their own space.
Tell them that if they fall asleep on their bed, they will not have nightmares or bad dreams. They may even feel very happy and safe in their bed. If they do not want to sleep on their own bed, try sleeping with them for a few nights until they get used to sleeping by themselves.
Make them aware of the benefits of sleeping in their bed. Explain why they have a calm-down time and what will happen if they continue to come into your bed. They must know why you are setting these rules for them, as children will be more likely to follow the rules if they understand why.
Give them ideas of what they can do in their bed, like reading a book or cuddling with a favorite toy.
Don’t give up!
Of course, children are not always going to follow the rules you set. This is why it is vital to continue to enforce them until they learn to follow them.
If your child comes into your bed, send them back to their bed, but don’t lose your temper or punish them. If you do, they will only learn that they can get their way if they come into your bed more often.
Don’t give up if you have tried setting these rules and your child is still coming into your bed. There is nothing wrong with having some quiet time on the floor or their bed, as they are used to seeing you do this around the house. It is essential to give them some time to adjust and ensure you are not causing yourself too much stress, or this will only make things harder for everyone.
Sometimes, the best gift you can give your child is peace of mind.
If you give them a good night kiss and hug before they go to bed, it will help them feel safe and warm. They will sleep because they know that you are there for them.
Let them choose their bedding and bedroom decor.
Let them choose their bedding to make them feel at ease. Make sure there is a good sleeping environment in their room. You must make their sleep environment safe, comfortable, and relaxing. If they are in a dark room with the light on, they may feel afraid to sleep.
Ensure their room is well ventilated, not too hot or cold, and there are no distractions. If you make sure they are comfortable and safe, they will be more likely to sleep better for more extended periods. They will not have bad dreams if they are surrounded by the things they love.
Let them choose their bedroom decor to make them happy when they are there. This will give them a feeling of happiness, which will make them want to stay in their room.
You must be patient, as it can take a while for your child to adjust to sleeping on their own. If you are patient, they will eventually come around and happily sleep in their bed.
Give them time to adjust.
Give your child plenty of time to adjust to sleeping on their own. They may not be used to sleeping in their bed or room, so it may take several attempts before they can sleep in their room happily.
If you push them too soon, they will not want to go to bed, and you will make things worse. It may take several weeks before your child adjusts, but you mustn’t give up.
Do not scold them if they come into your bed, as this will worsen things. If they come into your bed regularly, then you may want to try sleeping with them for a few nights. This will help them get used to the idea of sleeping on their own and make them more likely to sleep in their bed.
No TVs, lights, or distractions.
If there is a TV or a light on, your child may feel anxious and not want to sleep. If they are sleeping, they won’t be able to sleep because of these distractions. Make sure their room is free of distractions, including toys.
When your child is in bed, they should not think about anything other than sleeping. This means no TV, lights, or any distractions. You must be patient when trying to help your child adjust to sleeping on their own. If you push them too soon, they will not want to go to bed, and you will make things worse. It may take several weeks before your child adjusts, but you mustn’t give up.
The only way to get your kids to sleep in their beds is by staying consistent with the plan you set up for them. If they want cuddles or a little extra attention when they wake up at night, offer that without transferring them into your bed. It will be hard work and may take some time, but if you stay dedicated to teaching your children how important self-soothing is, they will eventually learn from what you do and follow suit on their own accord!
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Brenda Tillman is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, a dedicated mom blogger, and a life enthusiast. She also has completed courses on Parenting Skills, Learning, and Education. She is married and is the proud mother of a boy and two girls. She loves being with her family and pets. She has been blogging for over five years now and enjoys sharing her thoughts on parenting, relationships, health & fitness as well as other topics that come up in life.