1. Parenting

How to Keep Your Kids in Their Own Beds

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Young mother and her daughter.
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Nighttime is supposed to be filled with calm, those little angels asleep on their own pillows in their own beds. For too many families this is a far and distant dream. Many parents’ nights are interrupted with two am calls and sneaky children crawling up into their parents’ bed. It’s a cycle that can seem to never end, and when we try, we are met with screams and tantrums.

There is a way to take back the night (and our beds). It takes steely resolve and a calm center, but it is possible.

The first step is getting a nighttime routine in place beforehand. Just having a calming routine every night before bed can have benefits that lead well into the night. Not only can a routine get them into the bed easier, it will help you keep them there.

Next, be sure to rid the room of all distracting toys. Bed and crib toys that light up or make noise just cause more problems during this time. A cuddle buddy is great to have, so is the ever important night light, but anymore than that and it becomes a room full of lights, sounds, and no sleep.

As hard as it may be, avoid yelling, screaming, and threats. They usually don’t work, and even if yelling does work on occasion, the last image you want in your kids’ memories of their childhood is you standing over them screaming night after night. Instead, keep calm. When we yell it just increases the amount of tension for everyone, which is not conducive for sleep.

If you are lucky, these changes alone may keep those kiddos in bed through the night. If not, this technique works very well:

  1. Step One When your child gets out of bed, take him by the hand and walk him directly back to his bed. Gently explain to him that it’s bedtime now. Tuck him back in and leave the room. No matter how much your child cries or screams don’t engage her in pleading or conversation. Just gently tell them it’s night time.
  2. Step Two Round two begins when they get up from bed again, and she will get up again. Just like in step one, take her right back to bed. This time tell her firmly that it is time for bed. Lay her down and walk away.
  3. Step Three to Infinity When they get up again, take them back to bed. Say nothing. This is the most important part, no matter how many times they get up, no matter what they say or how they cry, say nothing at all. Just put them back in bed calmly without saying a word. This step is the absolute hardest. They will scream and they will cry, be prepared. If you do try to talk to them or engage with them, it reinforces that their tantrums are getting your attention and any moment you will relent. Don’t.

This may take several nights, and there is no doubt it can be very difficult. However, if you stick with it, do not relent, and keep taking them back to bed, you will get sleep again- and so will they. Remember that this is for the benefit for everyone, even at 3:00 am when your child has gotten up for the 30th time keep at it. Every night will be easier than the last so stay strong. If you give up, even for one night, everyone will be right back where they started and you will have to start the whole process over again. But, if you stick to your guns this technique can work for you and your family.

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