Any tips to get my 4yr old daughter to sleep in her own bed?

Dana - posted on 06/10/2010 ( 11 moms have responded )




She used to do so well, but then her father and I separated a few months ago (he moved out), she did sleep with me some nights as comfort but now it's been a 2-3 hour ordeal to get her to sleep in her own bed, she tries telling me she's boss and will only sleep in by bed or the couch, says she doesn't like her bed or is scared (she has a night light, snuggle toys, watches a movie before bed to settle down). I feel I have to stand firm so she doesn't get the idea that if she keeps fighting me she'll get her way, but last night took 3 hours then when I woke up she was sleeping on the couch... She's started hitting and kicking me when I try to explain to her about sleeping in her own bed. I calmly explain, snuggle with her for a little while, rub her back, constantly tell her how much I love her and how special she is and there's nothing to be afraid of, but then after a few hours I have to raise my voice and say this is how it's going to be and put my foot down.... so far nothing is working and I'm getting exhausted night after night of this... Any ideas???


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Shalene - posted on 04/03/2012




I am currently having the same issues with my 4yr old. She goes to stay with her dad and gets to sleep with him the entire time she is at his place because she does not have her own room. She comes home and does not want to sleep alone. I am glad you posted this, maybe we can get some useful advice. I hope it gets better for you.

Lori - posted on 06/12/2010




Just keep doing what you are doing. You obviously love your daughter very much or you would not be worring about this so much. Keep trying to be as consistant and firm with her as you can. She knows you love her, and will eventually come around. This is a transition for both of you, so just hang in there and everything will be fine. Good luck!

Sandra - posted on 06/11/2010




Tell her she needs to sleep in her bed like a big girl or she won't be able to do big girl things. Stay firm and consistent. You give in just once and you will be starting all over again. Bad habits are hard to break and the longer you let it go on the harder it will be to break just like any other bad habit. It won't be easy but it will pay off. If she thinks she is boss now wait til she's older.

Laura - posted on 06/11/2010




this is tricky, sometimes we like them to be with us, I used the reverse thought of training with my son and basically said , yeah sleep where you want but dont be surprised if i am in your bed in the morning! It worked for a while and he chose his bed, now I just go with the flow he wont want to sleep in my bed when hes older but use some bribes to help out. Kiss goodnight then mummy will be really proud of you etc and we can choose a fun thing to do/buy in the mornig. Being a single mum is very hard but so rewarding too.Keep bashing on, we are sent these hiccoughs all the time. Hope she settles soon. ;)

Paulina - posted on 06/11/2010




put her in her bed turn the light out and close the door if she gets up and comes to you take her back to her room and put her in her bed it may take up to twenty times but eventually she will realize that she has to stay in her bed

Aliska - posted on 06/10/2010




How about enlisting her help to have a spring clean and furniture re-arrange in her room, follow her ideas as much as possible and maybe buy one or two new things for her room, that she chooses, if the budget allows. Really try to make it 'her' space and let her have as much say as practical as to how it all should look. In the process there may be no room for the TV as I think TV is too stimulating and not soothing enough for small children going to sleep. Stick to the same going to bed routine every night so she knows what to expect. I found stories on CD were good at bedtime. They can be listened to in the dark so that the child can go to sleep, if they are read well they can be very soothing to listen to and because you have to listen to the story you have to be quiet in your bedroom or you will miss it, unlike TV where you can follow the story by looking at the pictures even if you miss some dialogue. I know it's hard but don't pay too much attention when she get up, try not to show that you are angry or upset. To small children, negative attention is better than no attention at all, seeing you angry/upset tells her that she's got your attention. Put her back into bed with the minimum of fuss and as few words as possible and leave the room straight away. Give her as little attention as possible when she gets up. Get this routine happening and then maybe you can define a time when it's okay to be in your bed with you like after a certain time on a Saturday morning she can come in with you for cuddles, stories etc.

User - posted on 06/10/2010




It may be that she is feeling a liitle displaced by the new man in your life, even though she gets on well with him. From her point of view, she just got used to having you to herself, now she has to share you. It's understandable, but doesn't mean you have to give in to her. I would take the tv out of her room, as it can be too stimulating just before bedtime. Always follow th same routine, lots of stories, cuddles, talking about your day etc. At sleeptime say goodnight and leave the room. Every time she comes out, just lead her back to bed without saying anything. Keep doing this, she'll eventually get the message. Good luck.

Dana - posted on 06/10/2010




I feel partly responsible because I did let her sleep with me for comfort (for both of us) after the separation (honestly the reason her father and I stayed together so long was that I wanted her to have both parents in her life together as a "happy family", which is something I longed for as a child, but it turned out it was one adult trying to raise two children instead of two adults raising one child together). Last month we started a calendar that she gets to put a sticker on every night she sleeps in her own bed and told her when she gets 20 stickers that she gets to choose a fun thing to do together- she already told me when she gets 20 she wants to go to Whale's Tale water park (seemed like a good prize to me and she was excited), but that only lasted a few weeks and now she tells me she doesn't want stickers and just wants to sleep in my bed. Well, the last few nights she has said she just doesn't want to sleep in her own bed but would settle for the couch- which I told her is not an option. Unfortunately, I am struggling to "correct" many bad habits that her father formed with her like the movie at bed time (after a story of course), looking at foods and telling me they taste gross and she won't try them (he would do that also- he's very childish... but that's a different and long story...).

I do now have a wonderful boyfriend who is amazing with her and she just loves him, which is part of the reason I'm trying to get her to sleep in her own bed. Occasionally in the past I have given in after a while and allowed her to fall asleep in my bed, but then brought her into her own bed once she was asleep, which does work most of the time but I don't know if that's a good habit to get her into either...

I don't watch or like TV and only allow her to watch one (kids) movie after getting ready for bed, which she watches in her room.... her father got her used to that (his quick and easy solution to get her to stay in bed), she used to fall asleep during the movie and I would go turn it off, but now she comes in after the movie is over and asks for another or asks to sleep with me. I say definitely no more movies and I feel if I remove the TV + VCR from her room that that will be yet another hugh deal.... I'm trying to resolve one thing at a time.

When she spends the weekend at her dad's house (every other weekend) he tells me she does usually sleep in her own bed, though will come in and snuggle in the morning. He is firm and I am gentle, she never learned to listen to me when he lived with us because he would always jump in when I tried explaining something to her and he would be dominant or yell when I tried explaining- so, Im still struggling to get her to understand I AM the boss, even though I'm not going to flip out like he did...

I guess I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and stay consistent, make sure she knows how much I love her and hope that she eventually learns that I am the boss and not her...

Thanks for your suggestions! ~Dana

Tahlia - posted on 06/10/2010




My son was the same way when my husband left for an overseas deployment. That was in September hes doing much better now but the first 6 months are the hardest dont let her sleep with you otherwise she always will i learned that the hard way.

Just keep telling her shes a big girl and need to be in her own bed so your and mom both get a good nights sleep. My sons finally got to the point were he will stay in his bed some nights are easier than others but stay firm and hang on there :)


Alison - posted on 06/10/2010




Yes, you do have to put your foot down. I think she is probably dramatizing and taking advantage of the guilt you are feeling regarding the separation (I'm just guessing about the guilt thing, but if you are a typical mom...).

My first idea: loose the movie, I think it's a bad habit and isn't helping the situation. Otherwise, I agree that if it works, you could let her sleep with you.

My almost 4-year-old has been coming to sleep with me a lot for the past few months. I think your separation has corresponded with a very common stage.

When my husband was working away from home, I told my daughter she had to go to sleep in her bed, but she could come sleep with me if she woke up.

Nicole - posted on 06/10/2010




Why not let her sleep with you for awhile bc she obviously needs you at this time. I am sure you do not want to spend hours at night fighting with her. I am so sorry. I do not think it's giving in but giving her time to adjust to the new situation and she will know that you are there for her which you are. Good luck.

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