This is a very common situation because children love the companionship of their parents. When co-sleeping has been a long-term practice, this is what your child has come to expect as normal. They don’t understand the reasoning behind you wanting to turf them out of the sleep space that satisfies all of their emotional needs, they love, and they feel completely safe in.
Attempting to dissuade your preschooler from the family bed is sure to evoke significant anxiety, confusion and a range of undesirable behaviours from screaming, tantrums, and simply flat-out refusal, to 101 reasons, why they need to sleep in your bed.
On the flip side of this comes toddlers and older kids that sleep in their own room but suddenly decide mummy's bed is better.
Certainly, either of these situations is stressful...you know you're going to have a bad nights sleep and usually, the surrounding angst with trying to get your toddler to sleep in their own bed is stressful for them.
The fact is you need to change a behaviour and the least amount of stress involved will yield the best result....sleep for everyone!
Consider 3 things...
1. Choose a strategy and STICK to it!
If cold turkey is your plan expect a lot of tears...you may well get them in their own beds BUT is the trauma to them and you worth it. Research suggests NO!
Depending on age, your older child, I mean 4, and over may cope really well with a designated night to 'Sleepover' in the parent bed. Be sure to make it a night when a little sleep deprivation on your part won't be detrimental to your next days' plans.
Younger children need a lot of emotional support to develop sleep confidence and the ability to stay in their own bed. It's usually NEVER a one-step solution. If it was....you wouldn't be reading this!
This is one of the things most difficult to achieve. Most parents start off well but children are NEVER going to settle if their emotional needs aren't being met.
The usual scenario is you spend hours supporting them, taking them back to their own bed and when this goes on for a few night and your exhaustion catches up with you...you crumble and relent.
Let's be totally honest you'd do anything for a good night's sleep!
If you can add a sense of fun and calmness to every waking moment, how do think your toddler would react?
I know you're thinking FUN? Aren't we trying to keep them asleep?
The way to create fun and a really positive approach to bedtime is to set the mood. When this is achieved children feel supported and less stressed. The tools and strategies that you use to create this, means that when they wake, they have support at hand and are able to resettle.
When they develop that....you all get SLEEP!