My son won’t sleep in his own room. How can I help him?
Bedtime can be scary for children, especially if they’re not used to sleeping in their bedroom. CareNectar expert Martha Tyler shares guidance to help children feel comfortable sleeping in their own room.
My 7-year-old son has slept in my bedroom since he was a baby. He has his own room but seems afraid of it. He doesn’t like to spend time or play in his room either. I keep thinking this is a phase he’ll grow out of, but it hasn’t happened yet. Is this some type of separation anxiety? And how do I help him transition into spending time in his own bedroom?
Oh my, it’s difficult when your child feels scared of or uncomfortable in their own bedroom. I also completely understand having your son sleep in your room when it’s just you and him. That connection is so important and bedtime can be rough.
Here are some ideas for helping transition him into his own bedroom:
- Play in his room with him. If neither of you spend a lot of time in there, it can feel scary or like he’s being sent away from you to send him to his room to play. Play in there with him as much as you can over the next few weeks. And do chores around him in his room together. He can help fold laundry or remake the bed or straighten up after you’ve played together. Make new, happy memories in his room with him.
- Have him help make his room a place he wants to be. There are small changes you can make to help give him some ownership over his room. Can he pick out a new pillow for his bed or new sheets? Is there an area he can turn into a fort, an airplane, a zoo, or anything else he’s interested in? If you have the time and energy, can you repaint his room together? This is a bigger project, but it would help him take ownership over his room. Or you can simply allow him to direct how the furniture is moved around his room. Anything you can do to make it his space—a place he’s most comfotable in!
- Help him learn to soothe himself to sleep. This can be super helpful during this transition back to his bedroom. There are lots of podcasts that walk you through a nightly meditation or reading books together, and even allowing him 15 to 30 more minutes of reading before bed can be helpful. Start by doing the falling asleep routine in his room.
- Use Monster Spray. Monster Spray can be helpful for those worries about monsters lurking in corners. You can find out more about that here!
- Try the Bedtime Ticket System. The Bedtime Ticket System can be helpful if he tends to get out of his bed a lot or always need “one more thing” and you can learn more about that here!
- Finally, here’s a podcast episode about big bedtime fears and how to help!
We hope this is helpful for you and your son and he refamiliarizes himself with his bedroom. And remember, the CareNectar team is here to answer any other questions.
Meet The Expert
Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!