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

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#1 of 44 Old 12-11-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#2 of 44 Old 12-11-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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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.
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#3 of 44 Old 12-11-2012, 08:53 PM
 
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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.  


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#4 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 03:51 AM
 
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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.

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#5 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 04:31 AM
 
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Yes, we let DD sleep with us when she has a nightmare. 
 

Ditto to what many of the PP have already said.


 

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#6 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 05:18 AM
 
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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.

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#7 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 05:39 AM
 
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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.


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#8 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 06:03 AM
 
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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.

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#9 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 06:41 AM
 
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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.

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#10 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 06:42 AM
 
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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!
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#11 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 06:42 AM
 
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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.
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#12 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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Why would you NOT let a 5yo sleep on the floor in your room after a nightmare?
 

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#13 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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."
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#14 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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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.  

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#15 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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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?

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#16 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#17 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 09:31 AM
 
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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.


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#18 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 09:41 AM
 
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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? 


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#19 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 10:30 AM
 
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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.

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#20 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 10:47 AM
 
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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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#21 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

Yeah, she shares a room with her 1 year old little sister who's still in a crib. The big sister was THRILLED when the baby moved out of our bed and into her room. But I think the baby isn't old enough to be much comfort yet. Although it does mean that I'm in their room to nurse at least a couple times most nights. That's what ended up helping her fall asleep most recently: the little one woke up so I sat in their room and nursed while the big one fell back to sleep.
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#22 of 44 Old 12-12-2012, 06:26 PM
 
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Yeah, she shares a room with her 1 year old little sister who's still in a crib. The big sister was THRILLED when the baby moved out of our bed and into her room. But I think the baby isn't old enough to be much comfort yet. Although it does mean that I'm in their room to nurse at least a couple times most nights. That's what ended up helping her fall asleep most recently: the little one woke up so I sat in their room and nursed while the big one fell back to sleep.

 

My 2.5 year old and 4.5 year old sleep together. They have a bunk bed but they hate being apart so both mattresses are on the floor next to one another and they sleep in a pile like puppies.

 

It makes my heart soar. I'm so glad I got to have more than one child so that I can watch what a nice sibling relationship looks like. :)


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#23 of 44 Old 12-13-2012, 09:50 AM
 
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My seven year old son is allowed in our bed after a nightmare.  But he'll get out of bed on his own, tell us he had a nightmare, hop into for a cuddle, and 9 times out of 10 will get up and go back to his own bed once he feels comforted.  I have no idea how long he's in our bed for (as I fall back to sleep right away).  Maybe a couple of hours?  This happens, at most, a handful of times a year.

 

When I was a kid, I found that when my parents said no to letting me in their room, I wanted even MORE to be in there.  I NEEDED the comfort.  I really really hated the feeling, and remember vividly the feelings of being abandoned to deal with the terror alone.  It was a really crummy feeling.  And I have no idea if that's typical, or if it just stemmed from my anxiety (or maybe it caused the anxiety issues I have, to this day, lol).  But I vowed to have an "open bed" policy with my own kids, so that they'd always feel they could come to me for comfort.  It's worked well for us.  They RARELY come into the bed, so I don't mind at all the odd time that they need to.

 

Now, if you have issues with having them in the bed for whatever reason (bed too small, worried about waking them, etc), I'd say that taking a few minutes to go lay in THEIR bed and comfort them might work just as well.  It's all about feeling safe and protected, after a bad dream.  I lay with my oldest sometimes, because she's notoriously horrible to have in our bed.  She never asks, anymore.  But I think that if she did, I'd go comfort her in her own bed, because she just really sucks to sleep with, haha.

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#24 of 44 Old 12-15-2012, 11:50 AM
 
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The hardest part for me was that I wasn't allowed into my parents' room at all but my brother was allowed to come in during the night if he woke up.

 

My kids sleep in bunks too and I love it if I come in and they've put their covers on the floor and are snuggled up together!

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#25 of 44 Old 12-15-2012, 12:49 PM
 
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My  kids dont really have nightmares. It may be because we co sleep. my 7yo had a nightmare once, but it was a long time ago...

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#26 of 44 Old 12-15-2012, 01:07 PM
 
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One time when dd was about 3, she came to our room because she said there was a fox in her closet. We sent her back to bed. She still talks about it only now that she's older she can better articulate how scared she was. So, I pretty much feel like scum for not letting her stay in our bed.

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#27 of 44 Old 12-16-2012, 10:53 AM
 
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My kids are 9 and 11 and are allowed in our bed whenever they want except not usually to start the night. (Sometimes they are then if it's a special circumstance like being sick, etc). In general, my kids' (and I think this is true for many if not most kids) anxiety is worse if I set arbitrary rules around when they can come in our room/bed. If we are relaxed about it, they can relax and then they fall asleep and stay in their own beds. If they wake in the middle of the night it's no big deal for them to come cuddle with us. That seems a very "natural family living" thing to do.

 

We still snuggle them to sleep in their bed(s) each night too. They each have their own bed, but sleep together. For awhile they were in dd1's, but for a longer time now they've been in dd2's.


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#28 of 44 Old 12-16-2012, 03:05 PM
 
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The only times I remember breaking the rule and going into my parents' bedroom was when I told them I heard a cat fall down my chimney (there was a boarded up fireplace in my room.)  I got told to get out and I sat all night listening to it scrabbling around in there and crying.

 

Eventually, in the morning, they believed me because they could hear it too.  It was a magpie.

 

The other time was when I hurt my neck somehow in my sleep and I couldn't move it.  I was told to go wash my face but I couldn't lift my hands up to my face and again I just lay in pain until someone eventually believed me.  I had to wear a neck brace afterwards.

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#29 of 44 Old 12-16-2012, 03:31 PM
 
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Ive actually never had that happen.  i wouldnt let the boys stay in my room.  DD still sleeps with us most of the time but if she was over 4 and in her own room i would help her back to bed. i wouldnt want to make a habit of coming into my room every night.  we sleep with our door locked anyway
 


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#30 of 44 Old 12-17-2012, 09:20 AM
 
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The only times I remember breaking the rule and going into my parents' bedroom was when I told them I heard a cat fall down my chimney (there was a boarded up fireplace in my room.)  I got told to get out and I sat all night listening to it scrabbling around in there and crying.

 

Eventually, in the morning, they believed me because they could hear it too.  It was a magpie.

 

The other time was when I hurt my neck somehow in my sleep and I couldn't move it.  I was told to go wash my face but I couldn't lift my hands up to my face and again I just lay in pain until someone eventually believed me.  I had to wear a neck brace afterwards.

 

Oh wow, you must have been terrorized! I once saw an animal in the hallway when I had gone to the bathroom in the night and woke my parents up. My dad was pretty P.O.ed but my mom at least said that it was probably just the neighbour girl's cat looking for her because she was on vacation. I was still a little scared going back to bed, and I was probably 12 or 13 when that happened.


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