Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sleep Problems with 7 year old

I brought this over from the Open Comment section. Please help this Mom out.

So what my mom to mom question is is this: I am going through one of those exhausted, worn out, phases! My daughter (7) has never slept through the night, and generally I put her back in her room once or twice each night. But lately it has been worse. We have read "goodnight books", I printed out scriptures, we've prayed with her,(veggie tales movie!) I've even resolved to letting her sleep with her light on! Any suggestions? Has anyone else here had a child do this? I think she is afraid of the dark, but when we talk to her about it she can't even tell me what she is scared of. I've tried a sticker chart for nights that she stays in her own room, even bribed her with the MALL!! We've gotten through the crying about going to bed, now we're just tryin to get her to stay in her own room.

14 comments:

Coach Kimberly said...

This is posted from Cheryl by email.
I have had various and chronic sleep issues with my children who are now 4, 7, and 12.

My daughter, who is now 12, has been the most challenging sleeper. I put her in my bed as a newborn after trying for a few days to have her sleep in her crib. She'd immediately wake up after I put her in. She used to wake every 1 to 3 hours. Even as a toddler she woke several times a night. When she was 4 she was waking a couple times each night and had horrible night terrors. I tried to get her to sleep in her own room after awhile. I tried everything I could think of and it didn't work. She was genuinely scared and lonely. She would say "it doesn't feel right, there's no one there, I'm scared, what if the house catches on fire, etc...." The lonely part bothered me the most and I let her back into my bed. (My mother also slept with me very often until I was in 5th grade, so I knew what she meant)

When she was 11, yes 11, she decided to sleep in her own bed. It was Christmas Eve and her brothers had a really bad flu with fevers, coughts, aches, etc... She loved it the day she decided to do it and has loved it ever since. She now sleeps with her brother who is 7 and they talk and giggle for awhile before going to sleep.

She still gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and she has insomnia on and off. BUT the good news is that she can take care of all that herself now!

I also have a just turned 4 year old who doesn't go to sleep until midnight (even without a nap). I'm still working on that one!

I believe that many sleep issues are due to developmental readiness and the other big factor is personality and temperment.

Know that you are not alone. I don't have answers for you, just do what you know is best for your family and your daughter.

Coach Kimberly said...

I would also recommend Richard Ferber's book on Solving Children's Sleep Problems. Not everyone likes all his methods, but he does do a good job of assessing the specific sleep problem. Also, whatever you try, be consistent with is for at least two weeks. I have found in working with children that things often get worse before they get better. You will think that something is not working, but you have not given it enough time to work. Also, remember the wonderful Bible verse for this situation and many with children, "This too shall pass." I know it does not seem like it will.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, Thanks so much! It is good to know that I am not alone. Some of my friends have commented that it is rediculous that she still sleeps with us! But it is partly my fault because we (just her and I) were in a auto accident a few years ago and I couldn't sleep without her either because of the "guilt" from the accident (I was driving), so I let her sleep with us for a long time....but now it is effecting us because I went back to work full time a year and a half ago and we are just exhausted....while I was only part time I was able to catch up on sleep and I always kept her on my side of the bed so she didn't bother her dad...but now I am just overloaded and really NEED some sleep. I am with you about the being lonely part...that is what bothers me to and why I have let her sleep with us this long. I know it will get better...but I sure appreciate the support!

Kimberly~ I will check out that book...I have researched everything I can...I don't really think she has a sleep disorder, but I really think she just wants her mom. I think that is why I'm just trying to do my best and at the same time not "baby" her?!

Again I am so thankful to have found this site!!! It is nice to know that there are other CWM's to talk to...

jenlon

Coach Kimberly said...

Jenlon,

I'm glad you are here. I should not have used the word sleep disorders. One of the chapters is on nighttime fears and the anxious child. One thing I see is she began sleeping with you due to the accident and that was a good coping mechanism then and now it has become a habit and is no longer an effective strategy. Please don't beat yourself up. I'm always frustrated when other Moms give simple answers and don't just listen and support you. Forgive me if I ever do that. Sometimes we just need a hug and say that must be tough. Of course, you are doing your best and that is all you can do. I pray you both get a good night's sleep soon.

Anonymous said...

I think I was the one who said "disorder" !! LOL seriously I have checked into everything...A friend of mine even made me start thinking that she had separation anxiety!!! =0) I'm sure I am over thinking it all!! The book on my desk right now is "Freeing your Child from Anxiety" LOL! I am beginning to think that I have let everyone influence the situation...And what Cheryl said hit a good point. I need to do what is good for my family~ And ya know I am fine with her being a mommy's girl~ Is that so wrong??
Hahah!! Thanks again ladies...
jenlon

Anonymous said...

I meant to comment on this last week, but I've been so busy at work, I havent been able to take many breaks...

My daughter, who's 4 now, has just started sleeping through the night within the last month. (Praise the Lord!) It's been an exhausting 4 years. The problem I'm encountering now that she fights going to bed so much that it's usually 10:00pm before she actually falls asleep, and she won't sleep during the day at school during nap time. The tough part for me, and I'm sure all working moms, is that since it's not an option to sleep in in the morning, it's imperative for her to go to sleep when I tell her to. A few months ago, when I refused for her to get out of bed to get a drink when it was 9:00pm, she cried and screamed in her bed for another full 30 minutes, so since then, I have given in to her little requests here and there since if it will make her go to sleep in 5 minutes rather than another 30 or 45, then that's what I thought I need to do to get her to sleep.

I think it puts a lot of pressure and anxiety on me and her, since it's so imperative for her to go to sleep when I tell her to.

Part of the problem is that sometimes my evening schedule gets thrown off kilter when she looks at me with those big blue eyes and says, mommy will you play with me? Especially on Thursday nights, since that's the day we both get to have a bath/shower.

After my husband and I talked about it, the only thing we can think of to do is to keep trying to do better the next day.

Lisa

Anonymous said...

Oh Lisa~ If I was there right now I would give you a great big hug!! I'm sorry for what you are going through. There is nothing like the guilt that you can feel as you are going through this. My husband and I have been in the same boat....look at it this way...if she is sleeping thru the night you've gotten through half of the battle! =0)

Like I mentioned earlier I have "studied" about all of this and the best way to handle it. We did things backwards from the way it is working for you. We got her to go to bed first and then we are now working on the staying in bed part~ But a helpful hint that worked for us is ~ we bought her a "special" little sport bottle for water. That way she doesn't have an excuse to get up for a drink. (I can't bear not giving a drink when they ask because I keep a bottle of water at my bedside too, but they do learn that it is a way to get up!) The next hint that really helped was to watch her activity during the evening. We weren't putting our daughter to bed early enough. We had a set bedtime of 8:30, but that works for my son, not my daughter. I had read somewhere to watch when they get in that "mode" where they are still and quiet. That should be the time to start getting them in bed. It was 7:30 for my daughter. It was EXTREMELY hard to put her to bed that early because I felt like it was an extra hour that I was missing out on, but then when her teacher told me that she was doing better (she had morning Kindergarten) I knew it was the right thing to do, plus the bedtime routine was so much easier and there wasn't near the fight!
Goodness~ I sure hope this helps you!! It has been a long process for us too! Once we got the bedtime routine down (Oh yeah...I also gave her about a fifteen minute heads up and even set a timer in the beginning so that she would be ready to start with the routine: pajamas, brush teeth, brush hair, potty then bedtime. I think the timer gaver her a sense of being able to control what she chose to do in those 15 minutes) I'm sorry I can't remember where I read these hints. I have read everything from Parenting Magazines to About.com and even the sleep webiste!! LOL (I was desparate!! )

WOW ~ Sorry I just got to typing and didn't realize how long winded I was! If nothing else at least you know you are not alone and I will be praying for you!

Quick note~ A'Leah made it through the night last night!! (YEA!!!!) I'm sure I had some prayers out there! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Just a quick update: A'Leah has made it 10 straight nights without getting up!! Thank you all so much for the prayers that you sent our way! I rewarded her with a pedicure this weekend, so she really feels like a big shot now! LOL (Her dad told her that big girls get to do big girl things, so.....she asked for a pedicure! LOL)

Coach Kimberly said...

Way to go for A'Leah and you as well. What an answer to prayer. Love the pedicure. I'm sure she has perfect little toes. I hope this is a pattern that is permanent.

Anonymous said...

I think this has even given her a new sense of confidence. I think that she has at least learned that she can conquer fear??? That sounds a little dramatic I guess, but I think you'll understand what I mean~
jenlon

Coach Kimberly said...

Jenlon,

I would expect your daugther to be more confident. It is a huge thing when you are so little. May it give her courage to conquer others things that may come in her life.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter, 7, who would climb into bed with us every night until she was 5. She, too, was afraid of the dark. So, I bought a very low wattage bulb (15watt) and turn on her princess lamp every night. That way she can see everything in her room. She's slept alone ever since. I also don't allow my children anything but water or milk after 7pm (caffeine can cause irregular sleep), and their bedtime is at 8am as they get up at 6:30. Being too tired can also contribute to restlessness. I also have a firm rule that beds are for sleeping and not for tv watching, homework, playing, etc. Hope you find something that helps.

Anonymous said...

Just another update that Ali is doing great! It seems like she is finally ok with it...she's still sleeping with the light on, but hey~ she's in her own room! =0) I am going to give her a little more time with the light on, but I'm hoping that by the summer we can convince her to only use her little lamp instead of her bedroom light~

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