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Helping Older Children Learn to Sleep Alone

Question:

Our 9-year-old daughter is dealing with the fear of being alone in her own room. She refuses to sleep in her own bed and will often join us in our bed when she wakes up during the night. We’ve been taking her to a therapist for six months, but he’s been no help. What can we do to get her to stay in her own bed?

 

Answer:

Being scared is a horrible feeling and we want our children to feel safe and happy in their own homes and in their beds. It’s good that you’ve sought out a counselor to help your daughter work through her fear of sleeping in her own bed. If you’re concerned about not seeing results, ask the counselor what alternative techniques or “calming down” techniques he is teaching your daughter. If you don’t feel confident in the therapist’s rationale, consider finding another therapist; it may just be that your daughter is not connecting with this person and a new counselor would be a better fit.

Meanwhile, if your daughter wants to bring her pillow and sleeping bag to your room and lay on the floor beside your bed, let her. She is at least getting her sleep and so are you. Assure her that it’s okay, but that she should try to fall asleep in her bed, perhaps doing some relaxation exercises or Yoga breathing exercises. Sometimes teaching her a prayer or song she can say in her head when she feels scared can be helpful.

 

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