Get Your Bed Back
Got a child who wanders to your bedroom at night? Reclaim your bed, and say goodbye to restlessness.
Use Positive Language
Be encouraging and you can make your child eager to make the switch. "Say, 'Guess what? You're three! Three-year-olds get to sleep in their beds all night! Isn't this great?" Mindell says. "It's a positive spin, like 'You get to wear underwear!' instead of 'You shouldn't be wearing diapers.'"
If your child can't fall asleep without your presence, slowly withdraw yourself from the equation, Obleman says. Instead of lying in your bed together, sit on your child's bed until she falls asleep. After a few days, switch to a chair. Then gradually move the chair closer to her doorway and into the hallway.
Take Small Steps
It may not be reasonable to demand that a child who's accustomed to sleeping in your bed suddenly stay in her own room all night. So try making the separation more gradual. McKenna says, "Some parents have told me that they've had their children sleep alongside their bed in a sleeping bag. Or decide that they can have 15 minutes in your bed and then they go back."
Shannon Choe has an air mattress in her room in case her 2-, 4- or 7-year-old visits at night. "They get to be closer to us but not disrupt our sleep. And it's not so comfortable that they'll choose this option long-term," she says.
It may be hard to walk your son back to his room at 3 a.m. when you have work in the morning, but be firm every night. "Think about the long term," Mindell says. "You'll have a few difficult nights, but soon, you'll all be sleeping all night."
Make it Worth Their While
Some parents offer sticker charts; others give rewards like extra playtime. Janine Bush created a toy-ticket program to stop her 6-year-old son from sneaking into her bed at 2 a.m. When her son slept consecutive nights in his own bed, he won tickets to trade in for new toys.
Outsmart Quiet Footsteps
Hang a bell on your bedroom doorknob and you'll notice when your child enters. "Say, 'When I hear that bell, it's a reminder that I get to put you back to bed," Mindell says.
Introduce a Clock
Place an inexpensive digital clock by your preschooler's bedside. "Put duct tape over the minutes and talk about the number she'll see in the dark," Obleman says. "Say, 'In our house, nobody gets up before 7. If it's not showing a 7, go back to sleep.'"
Create a Plan of Action
Instead of simply telling your child not to get out of bed, teach her how to fall back asleep. "I tell them to stay in bed, close their eyes, and think about something fun, like what they want to do on their birthdays," says Tracey Weil, whose 6-, 8-, and 9-year-olds sleep through the night. "Giving them something to think about is a great tool to help them fall back asleep."