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do you allow your child to sleep in your room after a nightmare?

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
DD is 5 and has been waking up crying from nightmares recently. Afterwards, she begs to sleep on the floor of our room. I haven't been letting her so far, but I'm not feeling sure I'm making the right parenting decision on this. Not only do I feel terrible leaving her in her room feeling sad and scared, she often calls me back multiple times because she's having trouble falling back to sleep, frightened the nightmare will return. If I let her sleep in our room she'd probably fall right back to sleep.

How do you handle a scared kid who wants to sleep in your room?
post #2 of 44
We let them. Dd1 is 6 and will often just get lonely at night. Sometimes she's fit at the end of our bed, but mostly there's a kids sleeping bag in her room she can grab and come sleep on the floor in our room anytime. Sometimes she'll just move it to her doorway.

If she's real scared, I've joined her in her own bed for an hour sometimes.
post #3 of 44

Gosh, she's five.  I can't imagine not letting her stay.  That's really itty bitty and to force her to be alone in the middle of the night scared...  greensad.gif  When I was in my early 20s I had a terrible nightmare one morning, involved feeling someone whisper in my ear, gah, that was 20 years ago and I totally remember it.  I did not want to be alone, so I ran all the way to the gym that my boyfriend was working at.  

post #4 of 44

We let our 6 year old DS sleep between us in our bed whenever he wants to. He usually wants to sleep by himself in his own bed, though, but if he wanted to sleep in our bed every night it would not be a problem.

post #5 of 44

Yes, we let DD sleep with us when she has a nightmare. 
 

Ditto to what many of the PP have already said.

post #6 of 44
My kids are 2.5 and 5.5. I might start making them try to sleep in their own room when they are teenagers. Ok, they do sleep in their own room most of the time- but I'm very lax about them joining me. If my husband slept better with them I would have all four of us on one mattress.
post #7 of 44

Our kids are 5 and 7. They're free to come sleep in our room for whatever reason. I know we're on the lax side of things when it comes to sleeping. I will say, though, that even my in-laws, who are generally against co-sleeping past babyhood let my husband and his siblings sleep in their room if they had nightmares or were sick. I think it's pretty acceptable to let a child that age get into your bed after a bad dream regardless of your general sleep philosophy. I'll also say that it may be making the problem bigger by forcing her to go back to her room scared. I can see that turning into a situation where she becomes scared to go to sleep at all, and then bedtime becomes a huge dilemma every night.

post #8 of 44

I would totally let a 5 year-old finish the night in my room post-nightmare.  I believe I have done so within the last... month?  And sometimes just because he's sweet when he asks.  I've been having trouble, actually, in that it's hard for me to sleep with my flailing, sweating kindergartener right there, so thanks for the "in the room" suggestion - I'ma just start keeping the sleeping bag in there on hand.

post #9 of 44

I don't understand why someone would NOT let their kid sleep in their room after a nightmare.  Is there a worry of breaking the routine of sleeping in their own bed?  Wanting a kid to handle fear on their own? 

 

I agree that regardless of how you parent in general, in my experience, allowing that is the norm.  In my personal experience it is the norm completely regardless of the child's age, and I intend to keep that tradition.

post #10 of 44
Of course I'd let him! Ds has a full sized bed and we have a queen and probably 3-4 nights a week someone ends up his bed or he ends up in ours. He is sick right now and I slept in his room last night after he woke up in the middle of the night.

I don't see any reason to make the kid go back to their room alone. If there is an issue of waking a sibling who is already in the parents room or flailing about in bed then the floor bed option seems like a good one. I highly doubt you'll end up with a 15 year old still sleeping on your floor in 10 years!
post #11 of 44
I let my dd come into bed with me when she has a nightmare. It is scary to be alone when you are having nightmares. She is ten and nightmares that wake her are very rare but once every four months or so it happens and I am still fine with it.
post #12 of 44

Why would you NOT let a 5yo sleep on the floor in your room after a nightmare?
 

post #13 of 44
Thread Starter 
I guess the reasons I asked the question and feel conflicted are:

- As a child, I had a LOT of nightmares and I never slept in my parent's bedroom -- it just wasn't on the negotiating table. I don't think I thought of it as an option. So my personal experience was simply that that wasn't how nightmares were handled -- my parents were kind and loving and helped me, but sleeping in their room wasn't one of the "solutions" offered.

- About 6 months ago DD was feeling extremely fearful (not nightmares, other kinds of fears) and started sleeping on the floor of our room every night. This is far from ideal, though, because both DP and I are self-employed and work from home, and our offices are in and adjoining our bedroom. After the kids are asleep, we sit down at our computers and have half our workday. So having a kid sleeping there regularly isn't a good option. We worked hard to gently, gradually shift her to sleeping in her room all the time again, and that's been working well. But it makes me cautious about "opening the door" to return to the previous pattern.

- DD has never figured out that she could get out of bed and come into our room -- this has never happened. When she wakes up she calls from her bed. So it's not like I'm "sending her back to her room alone." It's that I go sit with her, hold her, calm her, talk about nice things to shift her mind away from the memory of the nightmare, help her plan what she's going to do/think about to fall back to sleep again, etc, then tuck her in and kiss her goodnight again. I'm leaving her in her room alone (the same way I do when I kiss her goodnight each night), but it feels a bit different than "sending her away."
Edited by indigosky - 12/12/12 at 8:35am
post #14 of 44

Our kids sleep in our bed if they are having trouble getting to sleep, don't feel well, want some company, just feel like it or any other reason.  I appreciate that most people dont' want their kids coming into their bed past infancy but it suits us.

 

I was never allowed in to my parents' room.  I woke up from nightmares alone and went back to sleep alone and I hated it.  

post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by indigosky View Post

I guess the reasons I asked the question and feel conflicted are:
- As a child, I had a LOT of nightmares and I never slept in my parent's bedroom -- it just wasn't on the negotiating table. I don't think I thought of it as an option. So my personal experience was simply that that wasn't how nightmares were handled -- my parents were kind and loving and helped me, but sleeping in their room wasn't one of the "solutions" offered.
- About 6 months ago DD was feeling extremely fearful (not nightmares, other kinds of fears) and started sleeping on the floor of our room every night. This is far from idea, though, because both DP and I are self-employed and work from home, and our offices are in and adjoining our bedroom. After the kids are asleep, we sit down at our computers and have half our workday. So having a kid sleeping there regularly isn't a good option. We worked hard to gently, gradually shift her to sleeping in her room all the time again, and that's been working well. But it makes me cautious about "opening the door" to return to the previous pattern.
- DD has never figured out that she could get out of bed and come into our room -- this has never happened. When she wakes up she calls from her bed. So it's not like I'm "sending her back to her room alone." It's that I go sit with her, hold her, calm her, talk about nice things to shift her mind away from the memory of the nightmare, help her plan what she's going to do/think about to fall back to sleep again, etc, then tuck her in and kiss her goodnight again. I'm leaving her in her room alone (the same way I do when I kiss her goodnight each night), but it feels a bit different than "sending her away."

 



I guess there's more then one question - is letting a kid sleep in your room "okay", and do you personally want to do that (because it's certainly not the only way to handle nightmares).  Given your second bullet point up there, I can see some compelling arguments against it.  I mean, that's your work space, and you'd be keeping the kid awake.

 

Re-tucking a kid in is *totally* different then sending her away.  I think, though, that there's something to be said for the idea that your DD would just go back to sleep if you let her sleep in your room, and then have an easier night.  (Although it's also possible that the callbacks are a middle of the night plea for attention, and not a response to a more serious need.)  I frequently find that, when I have bad dreams - or any dreams - the closer I stay to the same physical circumstances, the more likely I am to have that dream again.  It's helpful to not just go right back to sleep, but to stand up, fluff up the pillows, maybe go to the bathroom, and THEN go back to bed.  The little changes mean that my backbrain has just slightly different random stimuli to interpret, and I'll have a different dream.  Whereas if I don't get up, don't make those changes, my backbrain will pick up right where it left off when I go back to sleep.  I do keep this in mind when dealing with kid nightmares, and we try the same stuff - lights on, stand up, fluff pillows, use the loo, jump three times, turn around, and then climb back into bed.  Maybe this kind of shaking the nightmare off would help your DD without causing issues with your work time or space?

post #16 of 44
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Meepycat. I agree about how it helps to get your brain doing some other stuff before going back to sleep. I try to do that with DD, too, but I like some of your ideas and I think I'll add in even more of them.

The reality is that sleeping in our room at 4 a.m. (the time she had her most recent nightmare±) isn't a big deal -- we're not working then. What I want to avoid is having her fall back into a pattern of wanting to be in our room all the time, since we just recently managed to end that pattern and we were all feeling good about it. (The Floppy Sleep Game CD rocks! Or is is it the Sleepy Flop Game? I always get mixed up.) But maybe they're two completely different issues -- I'm open to a policy that says, "You can come into our room in X situation/time but not Y situation/time." I just don't want to turn it into a constant begging/negotiating/explaining/reminding about the policy thing, and it feels like there's some risk of that. Of course I hated being alone and scared after a nightmare, too. I wasn't mad at my parents, but I was still scared.
post #17 of 44

Does she have a sibling that she could sleep with? My big kids shared a room when they were little and sometimes when one of them had a nightmare, they'd crawl in with the other one. I have at times let them use one of my pillows for the night.

post #18 of 44

I remember very clearly the one time I had a nightmare and I wasn't allowed to sleep in my parents room. I didn't want on the bed, I just wanted to be in there. It felt safe to me. They said no. I learned I could not count on them to meet my needs, and had issues with feeling safe with those I should be safe with as I grew up. This event had such an effect on me that my babies were in my bed until they were 2yo, when we started transitioning them to their own beds. And my 6.5yo is allowed to come in whenever he feels necessary. Right now it's maybe 3-5 times a month. We roll with it. (I know my situation is extreme, and it's likely your child won't have the same effect. Just sharing my story.)

 

Having appropriate boundaries is good. I think you going in and meeting her need is good. Maybe you can lay down with her for a few minutes instead of her coming to your room/bed? 

post #19 of 44
I have woke up twice in the last several months crying from a nightmare and grabbing for SO to hold onto because *I* was scared- and I'm in my twenties! I think at 5 I'd definitely let her come hang out in my room.
post #20 of 44

DD (almost 6!) just started consistently sleeping in her own bed, so I know what you mean about not wanting to restart the pattern.  Maybe the easiest thing to do is explain the boundary.  "Honey, you can't sleep in our room right now because I'm working in there, but I'll help you fall back asleep and I'll be right in the other room, so you're safe."  Then maybe if she wakes up in the middle of the night and you're asleep, you can call to her that she can come to your bed?

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