An adult bed, picture by Kevin RosseelMy husband and I have been dedicated attachment-styled parents who allowed children to sleep in our bed over the years. Whoever was the youngest got the place of honor between mom and dad.

But now our youngest is five. Sam is as cute as a button. At night however he prefers to sleep without a blanket and kicks it off all of the time. Unfortunately this means I am scooching down so I can have some warmth from the blanket.

A child sleeping, picture by Side Show Mom

This is when you call in an expert because on top of everything else, the hubby and I want quality, no, quantity time alone with each other.

Judy Arnall wrote the book Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery.

Discipline Without Distress by Judy Arnall, picture from Amazon.com

I did read Judy’s book but I felt as if I needed personal intervention. So I asked her how do I get the kid out of my bed and into his own. The following is Judy’s response.

“Many parents still sleep with their school-aged children in the same bed or at least the same room, but will not publicly admit it for fear of Children’s Services knocking at their door. In many cultures this practice is quite normal. It certainly happens more in North America than most people think.

If you are not happy with him in your bed, then it’s perfectly okay for you to keep returning him to his own bed. He may be lonely and going through separation anxiety (as all children do at certain times during childhood, especially transition times) and doesn’t want to separate from you at night.

It means that you have a well established relationship! If he is lonely, can he sleep with his sister? Siblings are excellent sources of company. I’m sure the 8-year-old won’t mind yet, but may when she reaches teen years.

Another option is to return your son to his own bed through the night and sleep with him there and leave the next time you wake up in a sleep cycle. If you are repetitive, he will get used to it.

The key to starting new habits is to use baby steps as increments, and not huge steps that are too drastic.

A happy medium between him sleeping with you and him being not happy alone in his room, might be to put a mattress or futon on the floor in your room. You don’t have him kicking you in your bed, but you can meet his needs to be in close proximity.

As for sex, get creative! Go to another room, or another time in the day while children are busy and occupied!

Above all, there are no bad habits in sleep practices. Whatever works so that everyone is sleeping and no one is crying, is the right option for your family.”

Since Judy has given me these great suggestions, we have started moving Sam into his brother’s bed more often. Brother is 13 and is a snuggler so it has been a good fit. I do have a papasan chair in my room that can do as a second mattress so I might start directing him towards the chair as an option.

For more information about Judy and to see some of her blogs, check out her website at www.professionalparenting.ca.

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.

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