Getting your child to bed is nothing short of a battle. And if you have to get your child to sleep alone in his/her room- a bigger battle. Many parents out there may relate to this phase. It is important to start at the right time and do it the right way.
Explain why they need to sleep alone: Do not make your child feel unwanted in your room. If your child feels that he/she is being pushed out of the master bedroom there could be resistance. So, it is best to come clean and help your child understand the reason for the transition.
Make the room child-friendly: As adults when we shift to a new room we like to make some changes that makes it attractive and customized according to our preferences. Likewise, your child may also like to make some changes to his/her room. Sit with your child and understand what kind of room and room decor will make them feel comfortable and cozy.
The change could be new curtains or something as minor as bed linen. It is best that to include and consider your child’s preferences while making the changes so they find the new space delightful and.
Take it easy: Remember, this is a big transition for the child! Do not be pushy and do not rush. It is best to take one step at a time. As they say ‘haste makes waste’. Baby steps are a sure way of achieving your goal.
Establish a routine: A bedtime routine has a two-pronged goal. Firstly, it helps your child unwind and get prepared for sleep. Secondly, it encourages your child to fall asleep by themselves.
It is good to have a short routine and make it age appropriate. What works for your child when he/she is two years old may not be appealing to them when get older. So it is important to change the activities. A routine could include bath, bed time story, reading book together or tidying up the room.
Once you are done with your bedtime rituals, you can dim the lights or turn them off and leave your child alone. This helps them practice falling asleep on their own.
Acknowledge their fears: What is the biggest fear of sleeping alone? The monster or witch lurking under the bed! As adults, these fears seem to be a wonderful flight of imagination. But for your child, it could be fearsome. Listen to them and devise ways to help them overcome their fears. A night lamp, a huggable stuffed toy or a good night fairy kiss could be easy ways to ward off these fears.
Hang a dream-catcher and read them stories that explain how the dream-catcher takes away bad dreams or stories of brave heroes. These tried and tested techniques work well for most children.
Be consistent: Consistency is key to making this project a success. On a day when you are tired and your child shows resistance to sleep alone, do not give in to their tantrum. It may be tempting to bend rules for a day but that one action may prove to be costly and ruin your past efforts.
There may also be nights when your child walks into the room past midnight and insists on sleep with you. Be firm, walk them back to their bed and tuck them in. Flouting your own rules could jeopardize the whole exercise. So be firm and consistent with your children.
Provide positive reinforcement: This small action from you can be a game changer and result in a favorable outcome. Develop a system of reward and recognition. Recognize the child’s efforts to sleep alone and reward them when they achieve small milestones.
Your rewards could be anything that appeals to your child. Maybe 15 minutes more of screen time, taking them for a swim during the week or maybe a storybook or coloring book. However, you will also have to exert some caution here. Do not encourage too many rewards. This could take the focus away from sleeping alone.
With these simple tips, you can venture into getting your child to sleep alone. You are bound to face resistance and other challenging situations. But by being consistent and persistent one can overcome them easily. And trust us, at the end your child will be thankful to you for making him/her independent and strong!