My 7-year-old has suddenly started waking up several times a night. What can we do to stop this?
First, listen carefully to the reasons he is waking you at night. The most common are fears, nightmares, or just needing some extra comfort and time alone with you. Do some problem solving together to help him feel safer, and teach him some self-soothing techniques. Make it clear to him that waking you up is not a solution, and instill confidence in his ability to handle the situation. Don’t let him come into your bed -- that only adds credibility to his fears and reinforces a habit that makes everyone irritable. Support his success by offering special cuddle time and play during your family's waking hours.
Expert Patti Zomber, Ph.D., is a child and family therapist based in Marina del Rey, Calif. She has written numerous articles about parenting and is a contributing editor on NestleFamily.com, as well as the editor of the Los Angeles Psychologist journal.