Older Children Sleeping in Parents' Room

Archived Q&A and Reviews

6-year-old comes into our room every night

Last summer we went to Europe with our six year old daughter and since then she has been coming into our room every night in the middle of the night. Because this had been an issue at times before, we had developed a system that seemed to work best for us: we put down a mat on the floor by our bed with a blanket and a pillow and she could come in very quietly and sleep. In the months since August, we have tried every conceivable incentive to get her to stay in her own bed all night and our daughter has shown us she is willing to give up anything in order to be with us at night. When we saw how important it was to her, we essentially surrendered and told ourselves college isn't so far away, really . . . Meanwhile, we have several trips planned and her first concern is, what will the sleeping arrangements be? I notice that I move in and out of feeling okay about this habit she has developed. The inconvenience to us is minimal and, I have to admit, the three of us have felt extremely close during this time. However, when I think about it I sometimes worry and I am concerned about habits that might handicap our freedom when traveling, her ability to do sleepovers, etc. I would love to hear from others who might have or have had similar situations. Thanks.
We've had that and similar problems with our 5.5 year old. When he was 4.25, he was getting up 2 or 3 times a night. We were exhausted. What worked for us was giving him stars (or tickets or marbles, his choice) each night he stayed in bed all night. We had to explaing that coming in was okay in an emergency and then had to define emergency (his pillow falling off the bed is NOT an emergency!). After 15 stars, he turned them in for a toy of his choice. The toy was usually something I would not normally get him. We repeated this sequence 3 or 4 times and he's been in bed ever since. Now at 5.5, we are using this same technique quite successfully at getting him to go to bed without us sitting there until he's asleep. This whole process seems to work because we found a good motivator for him, he could tell our attitude had changed and we were serious about this. Regarding vacations, I guess that has to be explained as a special situation and all will be back to normal when you get home. We do that when I have to be out of town on business and my son sleeps with his dad those nights.
My son, now 10, has had periods in his life when he wants to sleep with us. After lots of attempts to get him to go to bed in his own bed and stay there, I decided that it was only making him more desperate to be in our room. So I bought a futon and told him he could sleep on our floor whenever he wanted to. He did for about month and then went back to his bed. In times of added stress (new school year, pet died) he will come get out the futon for a night and then go back to his bed the next night. It never effected his ability to go on sleep overs. For us, resisting his desire to be with us just made it worse.