Ideas & Advice

What To Do If Your 8-Year-Old Suddenly Wants You To Sleep In Their Bed

Mom and Eight Year Old At Bedtime
Written by Publishing Team

Imagine this: Your eight-year-old has slept in their own bed for several years with no issue. You have a well-established bedtime routine and stick to it consistently. Yet, suddenly one night, your child asks you to sleep in their bed with them with no logical explanation. What should you do?

Situations like this can be confusing and downright frustrating. However, with the right approach, you can help your child work through this sudden change in their bedtime habits.

RELATED: Why Your Tween Might Wake Up Frequently At Night

Determine If There’s An Underlying Cause

In many cases, your child’s request for you to sleep with them may seem sudden and unexpected. If you have a well-established bedtime routine, then you may wonder why they want to change things up and regress. In fact, you may feel like it doesn’t make sense and may dismiss them because you don’t understand what suddenly changed.

According to Aletha Solter, Ph.D. of the Aware Parenting Institute, children are more likely to experience sleep regressions or other routine shifts during periods of high stress. So, this means that chances are, your child’s sudden request for you to sleep in their bed is related to some sort of life event.

Some possible causes to consider include:

  • Changes to your housing, including moving to a new home or switching rooms
  • Divorce or parental separation
  • Changing schools or similar changes in familiar daily activities
  • Death in the family, including a family pet

If you aren’t sure what could be affecting your child’s sleep patterns and pushing them to ask you to sleep in their bed, it may be worth talking to them about it. It may not be a change to their life, but instead something like a new fear based on something they read or saw on the television. It could also be the result of something like bullying or other issues with friends. Whatever it is, talking it through may help.

According to the team at Verywell Family, a child’s bedroom needs to be as sleep-friendly as possible, even as they move into their tween years. So, if your child is asking you to sleep in their room because of fear or a similar issue, then you may want to take a look at their bedroom to see what improvements can be made.

Every child has their own preferences in terms of what’s relaxing or promotes sleep. However, you can talk to your child and experiment a little to see what will be best. For example, you may just need some blackout curtains and a night light. Or, you may need to move your child’s bed to a place that isn’t next to the window. Just talk and test things out until your child feels more comfortable falling asleep.

Work Through The Situation

So, what happens when you discuss the issue with your child and set their bedroom up to promote sleep, but they still want you to sleep with them? Well, David O’Grady, Ph.D. of O’Grady Psychological Associates says you may want to just work through the situation and re-establish nighttime practices.

Personally, O’Grady recommends a plan that follows these steps:

  1. Follow your normal bedtime routine.
  2. At lights out, parents leave the room, with the promise of coming back to check in every 10 minutes until the child is asleep.
  3. When you check every 10 minutes, briefly reassure the child, but do not get into bed with them or stay for more than 2 minutes.
  4. Continue this pattern until the child is asleep.

Once your child grows comfortable with this routine, you can start removing the 10-minute check-ins. Eventually, your child should return to their normal sleep routine once this phase passes.

If your eight-year-old suddenly wants you to sleep with them after a long period of sleeping independently, you may feel frustrated. However, remember that it’s likely a temporary situation, and you can help your child work through it.

Sources: Aware Parenting Institute, Verywell Family, O’Grady Psychological Associates

About the author

Publishing Team