Old Enough to Sleep Alone

by Alison Bell

Old Enough to Sleep Alone

Many kids make a beeline for Mom and Dad’s bed when they get scared or lonely at night. Trouble is, it’s hard to return them to their own rooms.
The good news: Preschoolers are capable of reason. A five-step action plan for talking your child back into her bed:

1. Pick a night to start (try a weekend, which is more flexible). Tell your child during the day that she’s to stay in her bed that night; explain that kids her age sleep in their own room. To give her incentive, make a chart and promise her a sticker for each night she does.

2. Follow your normal nightly ritual (or create one). Give your child a bath, read together, and tuck her in  — routines make kids feel safe and secure. As you tuck her in, remind her to stay put, and say how proud of her you’ll be when she does.

3. Give her something of yours to sleep with, like a pillow or clothing item.

4. Hold firm. If she comes into your room (and she probably will), gently guide her back to bed. If she really seems upset, stand in her doorway for a few minutes before returning to your room. You may have to do this several times. Keep your eyes on the prize!

5. Celebrate. In the morning, make a big deal out of her sleeping alone. Then, repeat: A few nights of this should do the trick.