Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Sharing a Bed

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My girlfriend's five-year-old boy has been sleeping with her at least one or two nights a week since he was born. She was a single mom and they have only had each other. I've always been in their lives, but the mother and I have only been dating for the past year. The three of us are now living together in a new city. He still comes to our bedroom at least once or twice a week to sleep with us. Is this normal? Could there be any negative effects?

A: You will find different opinions on this topic. Some experts believe that sleeping together allows parents and children to form secure attachments. Most experts and most families, however, believe that children should learn from an early age to develop independence by sleeping alone.

All children experience insecurities at night and may sometimes have bad dreams. This may be especially true in a child who has had the recent changes in his life that your girlfriend's son has had -- a new adult moving in, moving to a new city, and starting school. It is certainly appropriate at those times to reassure the child that adults are close by and that the child is safe and secure. As soon as the child is comforted he can be returned to his own bed.

This boy's behavior is entirely normal since he has been allowed to do this all of his life. The most obvious possible negative effect would be his coming into your bed at an inappropriate time, and some experts question the impact that sleeping with parents can have on children as they get older and are more sexually aware. You and your girlfriend need to come to an agreement about this behavior. If your decision is to expect her son to sleep in his own bed from now on, you will need to stick to that consistently.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Printable Fall Fun To-Do List
Celebrate the cooler weather with this printable checklist of fun fall activities for your whole family.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Care Package Items for College Students
Show your college student that you love and miss her by mailing a care package full of dorm room essentials and comforting treats. Whether it's her birthday, exam time, or just because, get care package ideas to brighten her day.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!