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When should a boy child be discouraged from climbing in bed with his single mother if he wakes up in the middle of the night? (My son is almost 7; his dad and I separated when he was 3 and he doesn't spend much time with him.) Sometimes he wakes with leg pains, but often it's just for comfort. Thanks for answering.


Rhonda Clements Replied: Children everywhere awake in the evening from bad dreams or simple restlessness. They should not be discouraged from seeking the comfort of a parent, but that can mean knocking on the parent's bedroom door and chatting while being walked back to their own bedroom after seven years of age. The discussion can come up by suggesting that you must sleep in your own bed when you reach the second grade.
Posted On 2009-08-03 17:29:35
Rosalind Sedacca Replied: In my experience it is very common for children of both sexes to want to climb into bed with one or both parents when they feel insecure for any reason -- even at age 7 or 8. I don't think your being single is a major factor in that kind of behavior. At the same time, if your son has been emotionally affected by the loss of his father and this has been manifesting in other behaviors demonstrating anxiety, insecurity, fear, etc., then it is time to seek out professional assistance. Having him talk to a therapist might open the door to revealing the root of his anxieties and giving him a path toward renewed confidence and self-esteem. I don't believe you should discourage his bed visits just yet. Talk to a professional and get some perspective on what is making your son require middle of the night comforting. When you apply your new wisdom to your parenting skills during the day, he is likely to alter that night-time behavior on his own.
Posted On 2007-11-12 09:42:16
Lexi Welanetz, Psy.D. Replied: As your child is getting older, it is important to help him find ways to comfort himself. This should be done over time and this is perfect time to start. When he comes into your bedroom, you might let him rest with you for a little while and then transition him back to his own room. If he is getting too big and this can't be done easily, then proceed to the next step. Suggest that you both cuddle in his bed. Lay down with him for a little while until he falls asleep and then quietly slip back into your own room. It's important to not shame him for his instinct to reach out to you for comfort. Make sure to rule out any medical conditions that might cause leg pain and consider that he might be experiencing "growing pains." During the day, I would also suggest helping him to verbalize feelings he is having about the lack of contact with his father which may foster his need for comfort. Talking about his feelings and empathizing with him will provide a great deal of comfort to him.
Posted On 2007-11-12 00:35:01
Harry Panjwani Replied: This isn't unlike fathers that are absent as a result of military service, or those that travel on business all week and frequently away. Who can help? Someone associated to your church, temple or synagogue or involving a child in sports and getting valuable feedback from a coach can also help.
Posted On 2006-07-29 10:05:04
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