An 8year old with sleep problem! Is it about control or insecurity?

Gillian - posted on 01/15/2011 ( 19 moms have responded )

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HELP! I'm beginning to get desperate! My 8yo has always been a good a good sleeper I remember having to do 'controlled crying' when she was about 9mths old Worked like a dream! Recently though (more like the last 5/6 months) going to sleep has become an issue. Wind down time, story and into bed not a problem but if she doesn't fall asleep within 10-15 mins she then seems to work herself up and NEEDS mummy to rub her head or stay in her room or sit on the stairs until she falls asleep or worse still to join us in our bed (or the floor in our room!). We've talked about it, chatted about what I can do to help her settle herself off to sleep, what she can do to help herself, (suggested she turn her side light on and read or draw or play on DS if she can't sleep- all of which she won't do!), tried star charts, instant rewards, threatened to lose privilegies (which I admit is more out of my frustration with the situation) Nothing appears to be any different in her life She is a fun loving happy little girl with many friends and doing well at school. Home life is settled infact her dad and I are getting married in May which she is thrilled about! I must add it's not everynight but more often then not. There are nights when she has herself convinced that she won't be able to sleep before we even start getting ready for bed! It's like she talks herself into it! I am beginning to dread bedtimes as I don't want to get angry with her but am beginning to feel VERY frustrated as she just won't help herself! At fisrt I thought it was insecurity/anxiety she's about the right age for a surge in hormones! but I'm beginning to wonder if it's just about control? Any suggestions? Anyone?

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Fiona - posted on 01/04/2013

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I am needing some bedtime tips as well. My 8 year old son cannot get to sleep and it seems to be getting worse, he ends up with a sore head and tears and some nights it's 11.30 before he goes over. He is up and down the stairs several times complaining that he can't sleep. He also suffers a motor tic which is very upsetting for us and the lack of sleep seems to enhance this.

Sara - posted on 01/17/2011

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Actually, it could be for control. I have a degree in child development and children try to assert control over many things in their lives as they grow. It's part of figuring out their independence and personalities. It's completely normal.

Dawn - posted on 01/15/2011

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Hi Gill , i have had similar problems so ur not alone , but what i have done which i think has finally cracked my little one who is also 8 is the imagination or relaxation , i have had for many years i cant sleep , im not tired , and any and every excuse under the sun , i stoped her reading before bed because that was stimulating her mind and imaginanation, basically i told her that when she gets into bed , and snuggles down with her favourite soft teddy , that she had to close her eyes and imagine she was getting into the nice warm bath , so as she snuggled under the duvet , she could feel the warmth of that lovely bath , then went on telling her to fidget in the duvet and get really comfy and she was now on holiday and she could feel the warm sun on her, then she could imagine being somewhere nice and hot also did the palm trees and the whole perfect holiday image , being really happy and feeling the warmth , so far it has worked , or the relaxation cd , also when she had a bathshower this week when she got in i asked her to remember that mmmm feeling of the hot water and how lovely it felt just as something to remind her when she goes to sleep what the feeling is like , it might help , just another suggestion xx

Suzanne - posted on 01/24/2011

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my son was always a really good sleeper but when he hit puberty that all changed he is now 10 and falling back in to his own body rythem which has helped. but when he started ( between 7-8) he would do the same thing or wake up afraid of the monsters in his closet which he never did, after many frustrating sleepless nights we finaly figured out it was his body growing pains and hormones causing the problem, and unfortunatly we had to wait it out, i don't know if this could be her problem but 8 is the young side of puberty, so mabye something to concider

Julia - posted on 01/27/2011

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Of course children try to control their lives, it's just part of being human. Being as out-of-control as a child would be very unsettling for most of us. However, I don't think your daughter is trying to manipulate you. It might be hormones, she's not too young for that to start. My son is 11 and often has growing pains or gets overtired and can't relax. A gummy multivitamin seems to help with the growing pains, and the kind of relaxation techniques described by Dawn Wood help, I tell him to think about the beach, the sound of the waves, the feeling of the sand, the sun, the warm water. If she has an early bedtime, it may be time to push it back 15 minutes or a half hour, as long as her grades are good. Also, when I was young I was afraid of monsters and bad dreams, but was afraid to tell my mom for a long time. When I did, she asked me all about it, what kind of monsters, etc., she pointed out that I I had so much stuff, a big monster couldn't fit in my room, so it must be very small. She then helped me devise a plan to trap the monster and keep it as a pet. It worked perfectly, my mom helped me gain control over my own fears, and the monsters and bad dreams disappeared. In fact, I very rarely have bad dreams to this day!

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Ruth - posted on 06/18/2013

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Try cartoons. The child may need to focus on something other than the dred of going to bed in the dark. You just have to make sure the child isn't staying up all night watching cartoons. But most kids won't. Or you can try the dream light pillow. The one that puts the big colored stars on the ceiling. It's more soothing than a night light. It runs on batteries, but you can buy a power cord online. That would be best, so you can run it all night. If the child wakens in the middle of the night, it won't be to a dark room.

Gillian - posted on 06/15/2013

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Your problem sounds very similar to what Maddi went through. She's coming up 11 now and although eventually it did all settle there are still nights that she can't sleep but will now take the responsibility and read for a while. What helped me was a friend pointed out that as parents our responsibility is to get our children to bed at reasonable time we can not be responsible to get them to sleep that is their own responsibility. This helped me feel better which in turn helped me cope with the bedtimes in a calmer and consistent way. And that's the key I think calmness and consistency, finding what suits you as the parent so you can do it time & time again!. We did the what some call 'the disappearing chair' method. I can remember eventually being able to sit outside her room at the top of the stairs for what seemed like weeks so I did crosswords then eventually I was at the bottom of the stairs folding washing, Every so often Maddi would call out to check if I was still there looking for reassurance now I think back on it. I hope it all sorts it's self out for you soon if it hasn't already ♥

Susan - posted on 01/07/2013

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i have similar problem my 9 yr old daughter every night says she cant sleep she will go 2 bed at 9pm with her 15yr old sister goes without a problem till everyones ready to sleep and she will cry till early hrs in the morning am a single parent and she shares a room with her sister but its still not enough she needs 2 lie with her she wont sleep with me so her sister can get a sleep when shes at her worst as both have school in the morning she is always pale faced and the three of us are always shattered every morning i have had her at the doctors 3 times with no joy on getting help they say change her routine i have tried everything i think she has a fear of something and i have tried talking to her she says she just cant sleep the less sleep i get the crabbiter i am with her its so frustrateing this has bn goin on 4 a few yrs she seems 2 get worse as she gets older she also says shes not feeling well she is such a loving wee girl and changes into someone else at nite she even cries i her sister asks to stay out overnight with a friend she always says mum tell her no am at the end of my teather ...

User - posted on 12/11/2012

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I realize this is a very old post, but my situation is the exact same as yours, and I am wondering what finally worked for you. My fun-loving, sweet 8YO gets herself so worked up about not being able to fall asleep that she is in tears until 11:30, and we all end up paying the price. I too have resorted to bribing her if she can try to go to sleep without crying for one month. I hope that your daughter was worked through these issues, and is back to sleeping well.

Tiffany - posted on 02/01/2011

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I see that it could be a few things, because of the marriage no matter how thrilled they seem to be there may be some deeper feelings that your child may not recognize at the moment and this act could be a way to get some control over you. Another thing that you could try, because I have a 10yo that for a few years now has issues sleeping, you can try and give them a nap in the afternoon, this way they have the opportunity to get relaxed way before bed time. An overtired child is much more difficult to get to sleep and to get a good sleep. I am also a firm believer in a bedtime 'ritual'. It should be the same every night. Bathtime if you have the time for it can be useful to relax your child. BUT stick to the rules. Every night you should be moving a little further away from the snuggling or back rubbing. Start with that for a couple of nights and let them know that it will go from5 min to 2 min to a hug to good nigh and sitting outside for a min etc. just like weaning them from anything else. Reasurrance is also key.
I hope that some of this may help you!

Joni - posted on 01/27/2011

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My daughter had trouble going to sleep last year, and she was vomiting alot! We did everything we could think of even went so far as to have a CT scan of her abdomin and other medicinal things. All which came back normal. She missed about 10 days of school due to her upset stomach, well come to find out she was haveing trouble at school. A few of the girls in her class were picking on her because she was makeing better grades than they were, and she was farther along in her reading level. We ended up going to the school to have a meeting with her teacher and they worked things out. After that she was fine, not more vomiting and no more sleepless nights. Maybe she is haveing trouble at school? It's worth a try maybe? I sure hope things work out soon for you guys, I hate to know a child is haveing any kind of trouble.

Debbie - posted on 01/26/2011

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I think it might just be a habit she has gotten into, and we all know how hard habirs are to break. If my 8 year old wont go to sleep a night you can bet your bottom dollar he tries the same thing the next night, and just through my own stubbornness I let him cry away and chase him back to bed everytime he gets up. He soon gets the message and she will to. good luck.

Donna - posted on 01/24/2011

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My DD7 occasionally does the same thing. If she can't go to sleep fast, she is convinced she will never go to sleep and gets upset, at which point she can't sleep. I tell her to read a bit and then we put on some very relaxing music - piano and beach sounds. My kids have gone to sleep with music since birth so this doesn't distract much. Sometimes a new CD or one she hasn't listened to in a while will distract her enough from the idea that she can't sleep so that she can relax and sleep. Always relaxing music, though. We have some bad nights but mostly this works.

Gillian - posted on 01/20/2011

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Thanks for all your comments. :)
At the moment bribery seems to be working. She asked me when we could go to Lego Land I said when she can go to bed with no sillyness and stay in her own bed FOR A MONTH! Talk about desperate! Anyway so far so good touch wood etc. Mind you there's a little bit of being in charge/control in that I think! Ah well best start saving!

Rachel - posted on 01/17/2011

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In other wors what Im trying to say is, for an example, I know what my daughter is controlling about, so instead of TELLING her, "were going bye bye, put on your shoes." I ASK her, "do you wanna go bye bye? do you want to put on her shoes?" giving her the choice, most the time she jumps up with a huge YES! and sometimes she tells me "no", then I tell her what were going to do IF we go bye bye, and how much fun we can make the tasks if we go, this almost always works and then she wants to go, sometimes she still says no, and tells me she doesnt feel like it and wants to stay home and play or something. If I HAVE to go with her, i explain to her that we HAVE to go, now putting down the control from my end, and getting her through the motions to get ready, but if possible, I will allow her to stay home with dad or something, I dont believe shes being controlling when she decided to stay, I think that just like ANY normal human, adult or child, sometimes shes in the mood for something, sometimes shes just plainly not, and I do my best to respect her choices. but I understand about the control too, if I TOLD her "put your shoes on now" instea of giving the option, she would definitly tell me NO, because at these ages, they definitly dont like being told what to do

Rachel - posted on 01/17/2011

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hmmm...I dont disagree with you, but I also dont believe a child just does something for control either, I know my child very well, I dont need a degree to know her, or how many other children Ive been around from a ton of little cousins to help raising my neices and nephews, I do know children do things for control obvioously, such as my daugther will tell me no about something, and I know its not a big deal for her to do it, but shes just telling me no because she wants the control, but then theirs other things she does and I know its NOT for the control. so I guess what Im trying to get to, is that before you discipline them for something, you definitly better be sure their not acting that way out of a want for control

Rachel - posted on 01/17/2011

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Have you tried waking your child up earlier? I notice with my daughter she needs to be up in the morning at a decent time and then she needs to burn enough energy off during the day or she wont go to sleep correctly either. she doesnt sleep on time when she sleeps in to late or lounges all day. I have her up bright and early, then playing, running, etc. and then night time comes and she crashes right out after the bedtime routine (quick snack, warm bubble bath, book.) Its probably not for control though, because when kids get tired enough, they either just crash out, or they cry and get upset until they crash out. good luck!

Sara - posted on 01/15/2011

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My nephew who is 7, is going through similar problems. He lives with my parents and they sat down and made a bed-time routine book together. They decided what the routine needed to include and in what order things she go. They then took pictures of my nephew do the activities and made a little book. I used to do similar picture schedules when I taught preschool, and they really do work. I recently had to make one for my 8 year old's morning routine. I don't know if any of this will help you, but even just sitting down and writing a routine together might help. Then she'll feel like she has power in the situation, and it sounds like she's trying to assert some control, using bed-time as her arena.

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This might sound kind of harsh but I think you are being a bit to for lack of better word, nice. My son always wants to stay up, he goes through the whole routine of excuses to get out of going to bed. I am a firm believer in a scheduled bed time. My kids can have a small snack before bed, and a little drink. They go to the bathroom & it's time for bed. The room is dark & if we read a story it's downstairs. That way when we go to bed, we get in bed & no stimulation. I do not allow fooling around or talking. Sleep is so important & if I let anything slide they take full advantage of it and we pay the price in the morning when it's time to get up for school. This might sound simple but put her to bed, do not argue with her or go back and forth on why's. It's time for bed, do not get out of the bed. She may scream or kick the wall for awhile, but don't respond. She will figure your not kidding. If she does come out, don't talk to her, take her back to bed cover her up and go out. She will try to get some reaction out of you, but you have to be strong. You are the parent, you are right and when you say go to bed, you don't need any argument.

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