Please watch my video below on sleep troubles that may occur when children share a room.
To ask a question about your child’s sleep, just leave it in the ‘Comments’ section below! I’ll choose one and create a new video answer each week!View the Video Transcript
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman, creator of The Sleep Sense Program. If you’d rather read than watch, I’ve transcribed the text of this video below.
This week’s question comes from Sherry. She asks:
“I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old that share a bedroom. Each night somebody is up crying and waking up the other one, and by the end of the night somebody is always sleeping in my bed. How can I get them to share a room AND get all of us to have a good night’s sleep?”
I picked this question because as I was reading through the questions today, I noticed that there were man, many questions involving other children. For example, if you’ve got a toddler and a baby, how do you work with your baby without waking up your toddler? If you have twins, it is the same sort of situation. So I thought this topic needed a bit of attention, because it is such a popular question.
You know, I wish there was some way that we could turn off the hearing of one child and do “The Sleep Sense Program” with the other child… then everything would be great — but that’s just not the reality. The good news is that if you have an older child that sleeps well, most children are quite deep sleepers and they’ll often sleep right through at least one or two of the younger child’s wakings without hearing anything. However, if there is a waking session that lasts any length of time, well, it’s pretty hard to hide from a crying child.
So I think the best thing to do is just tell yourself, “It’s going to happen. Sometime this week, one child is going to wake up the other child, then they’ll both be awake. Maybe they’ll both be crying, and it’s not going to be a lot of fun.” But this is the hill that you have to climb to get to the other side. So the only way you are going to get to the other side, where everybody sleeps well and everyone’s sleeping through the night, and there are no wakeups is to do this.
Sometimes, all it takes is just preparing your mind for something. A lot of parents I work with say things like “I’ve got my mindframe right, I’m really motivated.” They’re feeling a bit excited about it all and they’re ready to go, whereas three months earlier, they were not ready to go at all. So just getting your mind around the idea is half the battle!
Because of the age of the children (3 and 6), you could do a reward chart. You could tell the kids, “If you both sleep through the night until your clock says seven, you can have a sticker, or a treat, or a little toy of some kind. Something that is rewarding enough to motivate your children. Make sure you tell your children your intentions. When you tuck them in at night, tell them that what you want is for them to both go to sleep in their own beds and to have a good night’s sleep; not to wake up crying and not to come to your bed.
If they DO come to your bed, you’ll give them a warning, and return them to their room. If they come out again, there will have to be some kind of consequence. If the 3-year-old comes out a second time, a possible consequence might be to take away a favorite stuffed animal or a blankie for 2 minutes. This is to establish that you “mean business” and that he is not to come to your room anymore. All it usually takes is just one or two times of taking away the object for the child to think, “Ooh, I really don’t like that. I’m going to stay in my room so that doesn’t happen again.”
It might be a rocky few days as you get this going, and one child may well wake up the other. I’d suggest giving lots of positive reinforcement to the child who IS staying in the bed. So, I hope that helps. I know it’s not the easiest situation when siblings are sharing a room, but solving this problem certainly is possible, and it’s something that I’d encourage you to tackle so that you can get to that other side where they are both sleeping through the night.
I hope that helps, Sherry. Sleep well!
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