Q: I know a 10y/o boy who will not sleep in his own bed. He will sleep on a cot at the side of his mother's bed, and must be within touching distance in order to go to sleep. What can be done?

A: This is a tough question to answer without more information.  For example, what happens when the parents try to make him sleep in his own room?  Is there something specific he is afraid of when in his own room?  Is he having anxiety about any other issues or during any other specific activities?  How did it come to be that he has been sleeping on this cot in the first place?  What are the family dynamics (between parents and child, husband and wife, etc.)?  And more... Having said that, if his parents really want him to sleep in his own room/bed then they will likely have to implement a structured reward system to help motivate him.  This may consist of gradually increasing the amount of time he is required to stay in his room and rewarding his improvements incrementally.  This, combined with developing his coping skills for preventing and reducing anxiety may do the trick.  The reality is that if his parents are having trouble getting this task accomplished, it is a very good idea to seek the help of a therapist to both assist them in devising effective strategies and help him work on the issues behind his need to sleep near his mother.

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Answered by Jeff Palitz, MFT



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