Encourage your children to sleep independently.It is natural for a child to repel the idea of sleeping alone. The child sees his parents sleeping together and obviously wants to be in their company. But the habit of sleeping alone should be encouraged. Scientific studies have shown that only infants should sleep with parents, but children above the age of two years should be encouraged to sleep independently.
When should you start?
Though some western cultures recommend that children should start sleeping alone from infancy, this school of thought is gradually changing. So one should not apply the sleep-alone principle in the early years. Physical proximity provides a secure and happy environment to children initially.
Build up the excitement
Start the process gradually by telling your child that within a few days he or she will be allowed to sleep independently. Make it sound like an exciting event. If possible, allot a room/space to your child.
Decorate the room
Shop for decorations for the child's room. Involve your child in the shopping so that he or she can choose some soft toys and wall hangings. Do up the room cheerfully and make it a space your child will love to be in. You don't have to spend a fortune doing up the room. A little bit of imagination and innovation will go a long way in transforming a stark room into a haven for children. Usually brightly coloured walls, Mickey Mouse hangings and a few soft toys are the only things needed.
Let it come naturally
Allow a child's independence to grow naturally. Do not force it initially. If your child is not ready to sleep alone, give him or her time to get used to the idea. If your son comes running to your room crying in the middle of the night because he's had a nightmare, go to his room and sleep with him. Let the children overcome their fears and phobias on their own.
Even as a child sleeps alone, he or she starts relying on oneself. The dependence on parents for small things in life should be discouraged. In fact, sleeping alone is just a step in that direction.
With the increasing number of child abuse cases, you should be very careful about the guests and friends who happen to share the room with your child when visiting. Never trust anyone too much. Ask your child if he or she has anything to fear from any relative/friend/neighbour.
Do whatever feels right at the right moment
Every child is an individual person with an individual identity. What may be right for one child, may not be right for the other. So just because your neighbour's son has been sleeping in his own bedroom from the time he was two years of age, doesn't mean you have to follow suit. Feel free to let your child hang on for another year if you feel the child is not ready.
You may also be interested in:
- The Indiaparenting Team