I have a saying I share with parents, and it really applies to the issue of sleeping. If you don't want to do it for the rest of your life with your child, don't do it even once. It's so easy to bring a small child into bed with us because we can get them to sleep and we're tired. But we start a pattern in which we convince the child that they don't know how to put themselves to rest, that they don't have the ability to let go of the day and relax and slumber.
It's not so much the comfort of a parent initially as it is we put this idea in the child's head that maybe they don't have what it takes to put themselves to sleep. And they start to believe that.
And so they convince themselves that they require a parent in order to go to sleep. Once you've gotten yourself into this predicament, and you're ready to break it and allow the child to put themselves to sleep. It's important that you sit down and say to the child, I'm sorry. I made a mistake. I thought I was being helpful by allowing you to sleep with us. But I recognize now that I did you a real disservice. So starting tonight, we are going to help you learn what we should have taught you when you were two.
It's going to be hard. And you're not going to like it. But we're going to do it anyway, because it is our job as parents to make sure that you know you have what it takes to put yourself to sleep and relax through the night. And then it's as simple as creating a plan that works for the child and the parent and that's different based on every single family.
And then make a plan. And that plan might include that initially the child come in and check with the parent 2-3 times a night. It might require that the parent sit with the child on their bed for 10 minutes. It might mean that the child brings in a blanket if they wake up in the middle of the night and they sleep on the floor. It's different for every child, every parent, and every family. But the goal is to begin to separate and to allow the child to develop the confidence it takes to put themselves to sleep without the help of a parent.