Getting 5-year old to stay in his own bed all night - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > Getting 5-year old to stay in his own bed all night
slightlycrunchyann's Avatar slightlycrunchyann 04:42 PM 03-01-2008
My DH and I would really like to get our 5 1/2-year old sleeping in his own bed all night some nights, right now he crawls into our bed every night around 12-1 and stays there until morning. A little history on our co-sleeping: We resisted initially (scared by all of the propoganda against it), but finally ended up taking him into our bed when he was 4 months old, where he slept until was 21 months old. We then moved him to a bed in his room with no problems for the next year and a half. Then when he was almost 3 and a half he weaned (partly child-lead, partly mother-lead) and shortly after that he started climbing in bed with us during the night. At first I thought he just needed some extra physical contact after weaning, but 2 years later, here we still are! And we don't even mind him coming in some nights, we would just like it to not be every night. His sister, who's almost 3, has come in a couple of times now and there's just not room for all of us in the bed! We've tried sticker charts, but he almost never manages to stay in his room all night to earn a sticker. We bought him a bunk bed back in the Fall, which he loves, but he's still not motivated enough by it to stay in it all night. I've tried talking to him about it and asking him what would help him stay in his room and he's told me that he gets lonely and doesn't want to be by himself all night. I've tossed around the idea of telling him that he can go get into bed with his sister, who has a double bed, but right now she wakes up a lot earlier in the morning than he does and I usually go lie down with her to nurse for awhile. I'm afraid he'll just end up getting up at the same time that she does and not get enough sleep (they go to bed around the same time at night, but she still takes a nap most of the time).

So, any suggestions would be very appreciated! Thanks!

momuveight2B's Avatar momuveight2B 05:31 PM 03-01-2008
I would really like to know the answer to this because after eight kids I still haven't figured it out. Currently our five year old is doing exactly the same as yours.

Here is what I know from the other kids over the years. They will continue to come to us at night until they have completed the following stages: teething, nightmares, night fears (dark, rain, thunder, teddy bears......), nursing, illnesses, wetting in the night, and waking up to use the toilet.

Some kids figured it out faster than others. Some would wet the bed and just roll over to a dry spot and continue sleeping. Some were heavy wetters and could go through two pullups and need to be changed.

So what we do is move them when they are good and asleep. Some are easier than others. We can usually buy a few hours of privacy this way and some extra room in the bed. The hard part is when you have more than one child then they can tag team and keep you up a lot of the night. That is my current problem. My six month old is teething and is waking up a lot in the night.

We find that usually by first grade they are not coming in to sleep with us anymore. Some kids will persist through age nine or beyond but that has been unusual in our family.

I don't find that rewards really work because sleeping with you is soooo rewarding all by itself and you can't really reason with a child in the middle of the night. When they wake up they are just focused on their immediate need and can not put it off for the promise of a sticker or treat later on.

A big part of the problem for us is that we are both tired. Sometimes just picking up a sleeping child and moving them takes more energy than I have. I can change them or take them to the potty but then trying to convince them into their own bed, do a back rub and all of that is not something I can really do in the middle of the night. I am just too tired. Dh has to go to work at four am anyways so he really is just too tired to be getting up with kids on the days he will have to leave for work. So I do all of the nighttime parenting on those nights and it is hard.
delphiniumpansy's Avatar delphiniumpansy 05:33 PM 03-01-2008
My almost five year old would do this if I did not give her a hug and tell her to go back to bed. Consistently. I don't mean to sound mean but you have to set some limits and stick to them or expect him in bed all the time.
dewi's Avatar dewi 06:02 PM 03-01-2008
YOu wrote that he said he is having a difficult time coping with "feeling lonely" . That is a truly legitimate issue.

You want to do the right thing for your kid and having him jump back in bed with you every night might not always be the best answer. He needs skills to assist him is learning how to cope with those feelings that pass in his head in the middle of the night. Teaching him coping skills is worth trying. How do you fall back to sleep in the middle of the night, talk to him about it and how to relax his mind. There are wonderful classic story books for kids this age to help him learn about coping with feelings or bad dreams. I think that might worth trying.

That is the way I tried to deal with issues when my daughter was 5/6 years old. They have so much on their mind at that age as they transition into the world and learn so many new things.

It's usually a developmental or emotional issue so deal with it from that point of view.

I have always found that Librarians or a skilled book store worker are great in helping you find books for scary dreams and such.
BathrobeGoddess's Avatar BathrobeGoddess 01:18 AM 03-02-2008
moved to childhood years...
mommy2maya's Avatar mommy2maya 02:29 AM 03-02-2008
My almost 5yo son does the same thing. I finally realized that it was when he got up to pee that he would come in our bed. It is just habit that he comes in here. If I am awake at all, I send him to his bed & retuck him in. Otherwise, I've told him that he needs to bring his pillow & blanket & sleep on the floor in our room. Most nights he heads back to his bed happily, sometimes he ends up on hte floor, sometimes in our bed. If I wake up cramped from him in the bed, I'll take him back to his.
gmvh's Avatar gmvh 10:42 AM 03-02-2008
Do or can he and his sister share a room? My two, albeit it twins, but b/g, share a room and I think it helps a lot. Their beds are pushed together into an "L". Might be difficult with a double and a bunk bed but worth a thought! Good luck - I like the sleeping on the floor idea. I also will tuck my son back into his bed when he wakes in the night and when he asks me to lay with him (in a twin), I tell him I'm going potty first and will come check on him. When I get back, he's asleep.
angela&avery's Avatar angela&avery 11:49 AM 03-02-2008
my dd is 4 and she started showing up in our bed more often after we moved. What had previously been once a week became twice a week, then 3x a week, then 4x a week until it was a fluke IF she stayed in her bed. I figured she would work it out on her own and it would taper off, but we moved in October and here it is February and its no less.

Lately I have just had it! We only have a queen and I am waking up more and more cramped (I think she is growing..lol). She is really mostly a good still sleeper, but it seems that maybe even she is uncomfortable lately because she isnt always going right back to sleep, she is fidgety and keeps me awake. We have all been sick and the last two times she has come In I have put her back in her own bed. Last night she came in and dh said no, and she persisted so I got up and brought her back to her room, she started flipping out, but she has this unreasonable way she does this when she realizes she isnt going to get what she wants so I was just like "thats enough, you are fine. Your bed is more comfortable for you and the last time you were in you kept Mommy awake for an hour. Your are OK in your own bed." Two nights in a row we have done this and she went back to sleep. Of course recently she had a bad dream too, so I may go on a search for a book about moving and a book about bad dreams. Maybe this will help her transition.
angela&avery's Avatar angela&avery 11:52 AM 03-02-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmvh View Post
Do or can he and his sister share a room? My two, albeit it twins, but b/g, share a room and I think it helps a lot. Their beds are pushed together into an "L". Might be difficult with a double and a bunk bed but worth a thought! Good luck - I like the sleeping on the floor idea. I also will tuck my son back into his bed when he wakes in the night and when he asks me to lay with him (in a twin), I tell him I'm going potty first and will come check on him. When I get back, he's asleep.
my ds and dd shared a room until just recently and I think it got ds through that being scared phase, once we moved he has been fine, but this may be another factor for dd and why she is coming to our bed more now.
KimProbable's Avatar KimProbable 10:12 PM 03-02-2008
When my DS started coming into our bed consistently when he was four, we set up a little bed on the floor beside ours. I didn't have a big problem with him co-sleeping but I was pregnant and he's a very active sleeper so it could be quite uncomfortable. He really liked his own miniature bed (we used a big cushion out of one of those satellite chairs) and it worked well for us.

He eventually did start staying in his own bed again, but when he turned 7 he started reappearing again. This time we just brought his bed into our room. I really couldn't tell him that he wasn't welcome in our bedroom when DD is a full-time co-sleeper!
DaughterOfKali's Avatar DaughterOfKali 10:29 PM 03-02-2008
Subbing to read later.
gmvh's Avatar gmvh 11:11 PM 03-02-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by angela&avery View Post
Lately I have just had it! We only have a queen and I am waking up more and more cramped (I think she is growing..lol). She is really mostly a good still sleeper, but it seems that maybe even she is uncomfortable lately because she isnt always going right back to sleep, she is fidgety and keeps me awake.
You know, the other thing we do some nights, is when my son shows up, we'll let him crawl in and then my husband will get up and move to my son's bed. Everyone is sleeping and I'm not crammed in a twin-size bed with my son. Not an ideal arrangement but it gets us sleeping. Some nights my son will show up and crawl in. I'll go to the bathroom and when I get back, he's asleep. At that point I'll go get in his bed and often times my husband wakes up having no clue he's in bed with the little guy. My husband does not sleep well most nights so having a third body in a queen-size bed is the pits - he doesn't like anyone touching him. Moving beds avoids our son getting worked up and it gets everyone back to sleep as soon as possible. Good luck everyone!
littlemomma's Avatar littlemomma 12:22 PM 03-03-2008
Our solution was to put a twin bed in our room for DS (7 yo). We did that when he was 4 (before that he slept with us). He's in our room, but not in our bed. (DS #2 is in our bed, though)
slightlycrunchyann's Avatar slightlycrunchyann 01:37 PM 03-03-2008
I want to thank everyone who has replied so far, I really appreciate everyone sharing their experiences and the variety of opinions on this subject!

Last night was very interesting for us. I started running a fever during the evening and had some bad chills; it broke a couple of hours after I went to sleep and I was drenched in sweat and feeling pretty restless. Then our daughter crawled into bed with us. This was okay, but then our DS showed up and was trying to squeeze in. This didn't work, so my DH took our DD back to her bed and told DS he needed to go back to his bed, too, because Mommy wasn't feeling well. DS cried, finally went back, then DD came back, Dh took her back, she cried, DS came back, aaaaagggh! Finally DH went grumpily to the couch and told DS he could come in, but I had a long talk with DS and finally got him to go back to his room, but he whimpered quite a bit. I told DH to come back to bed, but elected to stay on the couch and he ended going in to comfort DS a couple of more times during the night. This morning, DS was very proud of staying in his room all night. SO. I don't know if this is the beginning of anything different, but I wanted to share about it. And if we make any real progress I'll be sure to let you all know!
One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 02:30 PM 03-03-2008
Does he wake you guys up when he comes in? If so then maybe get a mattress or a sleeping bag and tell him he can lay in that when he doesn't come in. You might also try asking him not to come in just for one night and then really piling on the thank you's when he has the self control not to come in for just that night and if it continues make sure to recognize the self control it took to stay in his own bed. I have also found with dd that the less attention I give to stop nightly appearances in my bed the less nightly appearances she has.
Astoria's Avatar Astoria 03:05 PM 03-03-2008
I think if you actually don't want him in your bed, that maybe one of you could get up and walk him back to his bed and then lie down with him until he is asleep. He is probably actually lonely and having trouble falling back asleep. After doing that you can teach him that its okay to call you from his bed at night and one of you will come and lie down with him. When he gets used to that, you can start just checking on him when he calls in the middle of the night. Its a gradual transition. I'm glad he's proud of himself for staying in his bed, that is totally progress, but I'm not sure about the sticker charts. It's sort of a strange message to teach him to be proud of not reaching out to you when he needs you. I think a kid who feels safe calling out to mommy and daddy in the night is the same preteen who comes to you with problems. Keeping that connecting alive is a good thing. If you don't want it in your bed, transfer it to his bed and then slowly modify it to less, but without making him feel ashamed or alone. I think this ends on its own. My almost 5 year old still calls at night sometimes (and we go to his bed), but my almost 7 year old never does. Dr. Sears' Nighttime Parenting book may be reassuring here. My pediatrician also reminds me that boys especially benefit from affection and closeness at night and statistics show better adjustment during the teenage years with boys who snuggle with parents at night sometimes and are comforted.
chfriend's Avatar chfriend 07:07 PM 03-03-2008
Sleepless in America is a great read.
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