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When is it Time for a Child to Sleep in His Own Bed?


My girlfriend has been adamant that her five-year-old son have his own room in my house. The room is now up, but he never sleeps in it. Yet I don't believe he has spent one entire night in there since the room's inception. Though I have made the point very clear that he is old enough to sleep in his own room, she insists that he sleep in the bed with her until "he's ready to sleep by himself." My girlfriend won’t sleep without the TV on and constantly argues with her son about watching it instead of sleeping. How do I approach my girlfriend in a way that won't make her think I'm criticizing her skills or ignoring her wishes?


Thank you for writing to us. You addressed a very important issue concerning bedtime. You should talk directly with your girlfriend about what your involvement in rearing her child should be. It was considerate ​of you to make space for her son, and we’re sure that this all seems a little new and fresh. Routine and consistency go hand in hand when it comes to this issue. Establishing a bedtime routine can boost success.

Help get her son into the routine of brushing his teeth, getting into his bed for a story and then lights out. Watching TV before going to sleep can be counterproductive because it actually stimulates your brain. Other activities such as reading or listening to relaxing music have a more soothing effect.

Kids respond more enthusiastically to a bedtime routine when parents participate. You and your girlfriend can offer encouragement during this routine which will make it more enjoyable for him. Offering these suggestions to your girlfriend might work, but be prepared for any resistance. You mentioned she said he'll sleep in his room when he's ready, but it sounds as if she's the one who isn't ready. You might want to address this with her. Approach her with sensitivity and let her know upfront that you aren't trying to attack her parenting skills.