Help my 7 year old will not stay in her bed at night?

Yesenia - posted on 08/11/2013 ( 26 moms have responded )

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My daughter never had issues before when it came to bed time and now she just refuses. I have already taken away her TV and computer privilidges. I am done with the situation and I have already tried my hardest to make her feel safe, read her a story, tuck her in, say our prayers, she still gets up and cries that she can't sleep. Any advice is welcomed. Thank you tired mom :(

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Elizabeth - posted on 08/12/2013

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If she never had issues with going to bed before, then something has changed. It may be an emotional issue because something has happened or changed or it could be a physical problem. I can think of several things that could cause it:upset stomach, an unknown illness,a food allergy or even allergies in general, even a sudden growth spurt.
I would go to your doctor and ask him for help. The thing that concerns me is the shaking when she wakes up. Because she is having trouble sleeping she probably falls into a very deep sleep when she does sleep and whatever is causing her problem wakens her from that deep sleep. This is probably the reason why she is so disoriented and even could cause the shaking. This doesn't sound like a discipline issue, there is an underlying cause that needs to be rooted out.

Max - posted on 08/15/2013

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Just my 2 cts.; any limit setting and discipline you attempt should be done in a loving manner, not punishment. Discipline does not equal punishment. Your daughter may be stressed over something, and probably it's something she just isn't even aware of and certainly can't verbalize.

Perhaps one of the rules could include returning her to her bed reminding her of the new bedtime routine. Telling her that it's okay if she's in her bed even if she can't fall asleep, but nighttime is for sleeping in her own bed. Even if she can't sleep, she doesn't have to cry about it, it's not that bad a thing that she has to cry. She can just rest in her bed and pretend to sleep.

Get a nightlight for her room, but get a very low-wattage light that is so dim that she wouldn't be able to read by it when she's in bed. A bedside nightlight-type lamp is not good. Some nightlights have sleep-timer, sometimes you can find one that gets dimmer as the timer ticks along, ending with completely turning off. There are battery-operated lights that can be placed across the room from her bed. Have you considered a white-noise machine?

Have you ruled out any (God forbid) physical problems?

Some things you should institute immediately, which could be the source of subconscious stress in children, is not watching or listening to the news when your daughter is with you; not letting her see the newspaper or news magazines, and making sure she is not playing with anything with a screen 3 hours before bedtime. That includes all electronics, electronic games (even the educational ones), and no t.v., not even kids' movies. After dinner evening activities can revolve around non-electric creative play such as board games, blocks, coloring or arts & crafts, playing outdoors etc., bath or shower, her talking about her day, story reading or lullaby time, and then lights out (or lullaby time after lights out.

Some 7-year-olds are mature enough to put themselves to bed, but most are not. Even if they are, putting your kids to bed can be one of the most rewarding times of parenting. It was for me, at least. We had a lot of different bedtime traditions - after their baths, we had "rubbie-scrubbies" where I'd towel dry their hair. Then it was time for "jammies" and a story, taking turns to choose the story. After the story, it was lights out and I'd sing to them. When one of them was a baby, the singing was done while nursing.

After the song, usually one of them was asleep. If not, the rule was that after their sisters were both asleep (3 girls), the one still awake could come downstairs to hang out with us. They were SURE we ordered pizza and soda every night and had parties without them LOL. This only backfired a few times, but when they saw there was no junk food, they usually fell asleep on the couch and had to be walked back to bed.

HTH.

AnnMarie - posted on 08/12/2013

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Had any thing big happened lately? Good or bad... Is she stressed about something?... My son doesn't sleep well when he's stressed. He also likes some light on (& I think he sleeps better with a light on then in the dark, maybe he feels like he can relax if there's some light, I don't know.) ... How does she breathe when she's asleep? Does she snore, take shallow breaths, something that might need to be checked our that could be disrupting her sleep? I'm just thinking what I would do in your situation. If this us new behavior there has to be a reason. Maybe you can have someone she trusts also ask her about it. Maybe she'll talk to someone else. Sometimes they don't want to worry us.... Again just all thoughts I would ask myself.

Stacy - posted on 08/15/2013

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Bedtime Problems
Getting a child to go to bed is a common problem that many parents experience. Some children use stalling and excuses to resist going to bed, whereas others go to bed initially but do not stay there. Bedtime problems can be one of the most frustrating parts of a parent’s day. Bedtime problems can occur at any age but are most prevalent between 3 and 6 years.
What can you do to help your child go to bed?
First of all, it is important to realize that you cannot “make” a child go to sleep. However, you can help your child improve his bedtime behavior and help him to get to sleep more easily and quickly. As with many other skills your child needs to learn, this will take time.
Stick to firm bedtime limits. The first step is to be convinced that your child needs to change his bedtime behavior and that setting and sticking to firm bedtime limits is in everyone’s best interest, especially your child’s. Setting limits is an important part of parenting. Children do not have a lot of self-control yet, so they benefit from the structure of limits that you set for them. This helps them to learn self-control. In addition, limits relieve (not cause) anxiety in children. Finally, prepare yourself for some hard work. Changing behavior is always difficult. Your child is probably happy with bedtime the way it is and so will initially have little motivation to change. You need to be consistent and persistent.
Explain the new rules to your child. Before you start the new nighttime program, sit down with your child during the day and let him know what you expect. Do not make your conversation too long or involved and do not over explain. Ignore any negative comments by your child and avoid arguing about the new rules.
Set bedtime. Once you have decided on your child’s bedtime, be consistent about it. Establish a regular bedtime to help set your child’s internal clock. Be sure that your child is ready for sleep before putting him to bed. This may seem obvious, but sometimes parents set a bedtime for their own convenience. For example, some children’s biological clocks make them more likely to be “night owls”. These children may have difficulty with an earlier bedtime.
Bedtime fading. Putting children to bed when they are not tired increases the likelihood of bedtime struggles. Therefore, for some children it is best to start by setting the bedtime at the time they usually fall asleep and gradually make the bedtime earlier. When you start, you will first need to determine when your child is naturally falling asleep and set this as his temporary bedtime. If you would like your child to go to bed at 8:30, but he usually does not fall asleep until 10:30, choose 10:30 as his temporary bedtime. This will make it easier to teach your child how to fall asleep within a short time of getting into bed. Once he is falling asleep easily and quickly at his temporary bedtime you can then start making his bedtime earlier 15 minutes every few days. Be patient. If you move the bedtime back too quickly, you may have problems with your child not being able to fall asleep.
Bedtime routine. Be sure to establish a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine should include calm and enjoyable activities, such as a bath and bedtime stories. Avoid stimulating high-energy activities, such as playing outside, running around, or watching exciting television shows or videos. Make a chart of your bedtime routine to help keep your child on track. Also, having the last part of the bedtime routine be a favorite activity will help motivate your child to get ready for bed.
Ignore complaints or protests. Ignore your child’s complaints or protests about bedtime, such as not being tired. Discussing or arguing about bedtime will lead to a struggle with your child, thus maintaining bedtime problems. Firmly and calmly let your child know it is time for bed and continue with the routine.
Putting your child to bed. When the bedtime routine is complete, put your child to bed and leave the room. It is important that you leave the room while your child is awake, as this helps your child learn to fall asleep on his own.
If your child cries or yells. If your child is yelling or calling out to you but remaining in his bed, remind him one time that it is bedtime. If he continues to be upset, check on your child. Wait for as long or short of a time as you wish. For some children, checking frequently is effective; for others, checking infrequently works best. Continue returning to check on your child as long as he is crying or upset. The visits should be brief (1 minute) and boring. Don’t soothe or comfort your child during these visits and don’t get into a discussion. Calmly tell your child that it’s time to go to sleep. The purpose of returning to the room is to reassure your child that you are still present and to reassure you that your child is okay.
What to do if your child gets out of bed or comes out of his room. If your child gets out of bed or comes out of his room, firmly and calmly return him to bed. For some children, simply returning them to bed multiple times works. For others, letting him know that if he gets up again you will close the bedroom door can be effective. If your child gets out of bed, put him back in bed and close the door for a brief period (1 minute to start). After the allotted time, open the door. If your child is in bed, praise him and leave the door open. If he is up, put him back in bed and close the door again but leave it closed for a longer time, increasing the time by a few minutes each time he gets up.
Don’t lock your child in his room. Locking the door may be scary for your child. The goal is to teach your child to stay in bed, not punish or scare him.
Reward your child. Soon after your child awakens in the morning, reward him for what he did well the night before. Don’t dwell on misbehavior from the previous night. Give your attention to your child’s successes. Stickers and praise are good ways to reward your child for even small improvements.
Be consistent and don’t give up. The first few nights are likely to be very challenging. You should start to see major improvements within the first few weeks.

Vickie - posted on 08/12/2013

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Does she have any stomach problems? My son has trouble with constipation and it makes it hard for him to sleep.

Does she remember doing it?

If she's not upset at all and just seems unable to comfort herself I would put some books and a small lamp in her room and let her read when she can't sleep. A trick I did to teach my son to sleep in his own bed was to put 3 pennies ( you could use quarters since she's older than he was) in his doorway on the floor. Every time he left his room except to go to the bathroom, he lost a quarter. Whatever quarters are left in the morning she gets to keep.

26 Comments

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Yesenia - posted on 08/18/2013

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I want to thank everybody for their very helpful advice, I greatly appreciate it.

Linda - posted on 08/18/2013

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Have you tried Prayer sounds funny but really works asked Lord to deal
with your 7 year old directly I,ll pray for you too.

Matty - posted on 08/17/2013

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We use classical music and she is gone in minutes....listen to

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NicMZ589snY
Feb 25, 2013 - Uploaded by babyrelaxchannel
The most beautiful music of Mozart. Concerto for Flute and Harp. Slow movement . Put your ...

Maybe if u stay by her side....until she falls asleep

Rebotile - posted on 08/16/2013

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Please help!!! I have a 6 month old baby and still have no routine for her. I battle with putting her to sleep at night. I thought. It would get better once I started giving her solids but I still wake up every two hours to feed.

Diane - posted on 08/16/2013

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A seven year old with a computer and a t.v.?? Is this the tail wagging the dog? Check out Dr.Sears site online. They have really good down to earth advise on most subjects.

Stacy - posted on 08/15/2013

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Bedtime Problems
Getting a child to go to bed is a common problem that many parents experience. Some children use stalling and excuses to resist going to bed, whereas others go to bed initially but do not stay there. Bedtime problems can be one of the most frustrating parts of a parent’s day. Bedtime problems can occur at any age but are most prevalent between 3 and 6 years.
What can you do to help your child go to bed?
First of all, it is important to realize that you cannot “make” a child go to sleep. However, you can help your child improve his bedtime behavior and help him to get to sleep more easily and quickly. As with many other skills your child needs to learn, this will take time.
Stick to firm bedtime limits. The first step is to be convinced that your child needs to change his bedtime behavior and that setting and sticking to firm bedtime limits is in everyone’s best interest, especially your child’s. Setting limits is an important part of parenting. Children do not have a lot of self-control yet, so they benefit from the structure of limits that you set for them. This helps them to learn self-control. In addition, limits relieve (not cause) anxiety in children. Finally, prepare yourself for some hard work. Changing behavior is always difficult. Your child is probably happy with bedtime the way it is and so will initially have little motivation to change. You need to be consistent and persistent.
Explain the new rules to your child. Before you start the new nighttime program, sit down with your child during the day and let him know what you expect. Do not make your conversation too long or involved and do not over explain. Ignore any negative comments by your child and avoid arguing about the new rules.
Set bedtime. Once you have decided on your child’s bedtime, be consistent about it. Establish a regular bedtime to help set your child’s internal clock. Be sure that your child is ready for sleep before putting him to bed. This may seem obvious, but sometimes parents set a bedtime for their own convenience. For example, some children’s biological clocks make them more likely to be “night owls”. These children may have difficulty with an earlier bedtime.
Bedtime fading. Putting children to bed when they are not tired increases the likelihood of bedtime struggles. Therefore, for some children it is best to start by setting the bedtime at the time they usually fall asleep and gradually make the bedtime earlier. When you start, you will first need to determine when your child is naturally falling asleep and set this as his temporary bedtime. If you would like your child to go to bed at 8:30, but he usually does not fall asleep until 10:30, choose 10:30 as his temporary bedtime. This will make it easier to teach your child how to fall asleep within a short time of getting into bed. Once he is falling asleep easily and quickly at his temporary bedtime you can then start making his bedtime earlier 15 minutes every few days. Be patient. If you move the bedtime back too quickly, you may have problems with your child not being able to fall asleep.
Bedtime routine. Be sure to establish a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine should include calm and enjoyable activities, such as a bath and bedtime stories. Avoid stimulating high-energy activities, such as playing outside, running around, or watching exciting television shows or videos. Make a chart of your bedtime routine to help keep your child on track. Also, having the last part of the bedtime routine be a favorite activity will help motivate your child to get ready for bed.
Ignore complaints or protests. Ignore your child’s complaints or protests about bedtime, such as not being tired. Discussing or arguing about bedtime will lead to a struggle with your child, thus maintaining bedtime problems. Firmly and calmly let your child know it is time for bed and continue with the routine.
Putting your child to bed. When the bedtime routine is complete, put your child to bed and leave the room. It is important that you leave the room while your child is awake, as this helps your child learn to fall asleep on his own.
If your child cries or yells. If your child is yelling or calling out to you but remaining in his bed, remind him one time that it is bedtime. If he continues to be upset, check on your child. Wait for as long or short of a time as you wish. For some children, checking frequently is effective; for others, checking infrequently works best. Continue returning to check on your child as long as he is crying or upset. The visits should be brief (1 minute) and boring. Don’t soothe or comfort your child during these visits and don’t get into a discussion. Calmly tell your child that it’s time to go to sleep. The purpose of returning to the room is to reassure your child that you are still present and to reassure you that your child is okay.
What to do if your child gets out of bed or comes out of his room. If your child gets out of bed or comes out of his room, firmly and calmly return him to bed. For some children, simply returning them to bed multiple times works. For others, letting him know that if he gets up again you will close the bedroom door can be effective. If your child gets out of bed, put him back in bed and close the door for a brief period (1 minute to start). After the allotted time, open the door. If your child is in bed, praise him and leave the door open. If he is up, put him back in bed and close the door again but leave it closed for a longer time, increasing the time by a few minutes each time he gets up.
Don’t lock your child in his room. Locking the door may be scary for your child. The goal is to teach your child to stay in bed, not punish or scare him.
Reward your child. Soon after your child awakens in the morning, reward him for what he did well the night before. Don’t dwell on misbehavior from the previous night. Give your attention to your child’s successes. Stickers and praise are good ways to reward your child for even small improvements.
Be consistent and don’t give up. The first few nights are likely to be very challenging. You should start to see major improvements within the first few weeks.

Rebecca - posted on 08/15/2013

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Is your daughter anxious about getting to sleep? We all know that worrying about getting to sleep is bound to keep us awake. I reassure my children that if they can't sleep that's fine, all I want for them is to stay in bed and rest. I tell them they will still benefit much from just resting without sleeping. Sometimes I suggest pleasant things for them to think about while they are resting.

Gina - posted on 08/15/2013

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I have two daughters. Both are different as daylight and dark. One has to have night lights and the other one doesnt and thats ok that is why they are different. :-)

Not sure how to help u with the situation as we all at one time or the other has had to come up with our own lil tricks!
Are you allowing too much time sleeping in or maybe an unnecessary nap which is preventing the child from being unable to sleep at your required time?

Rachel - posted on 08/15/2013

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Has she watched any scary movies ? My youngest did the same thing, and it wasn't till a month later that I learned she had watched child's play with an older cousin.

April - posted on 08/15/2013

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Yesenia, I really can relate to your situation. I have two kids, 7 and 10. Part of it is normal. Most kids go through different stages when they are afraid of something and eventually (in a perfect world) they grow out of it.

My 7 year old has always been brave about going to sleep. For years she wanted it dark in her room and no noise. The 10 year old was not like this at all. He needed every light on and soothing music and every stuffed toy to help him feel safe. He dealt with a lot of anxiety and I wasn't as sympathetic with him because I thought he was always trying to get out of going to sleep. Both kids deal with anxiety issues and I didn't understand it like I do now. Now the 7 year old is doing what your daughter is doing.

My advice would be what a few people already recommended. Nightlights, soothing music, a glass of water or warm milk, any little lovie to put in bed with her to help her feel safe, talk about any bad thoughts or nightmares she is having and most of all it requires a lot of patience on your part. If you have an early morning lay down with her and either sleep there or wait for her to fall asleep. I think that in their heads they know that their fear is irrational but they still can't get it out of their mind and move on---they are so young.

Eventually she will feel better about being alone in her room again. If she doesn't move on and the fears continue then you know it is something more than she can deal with on her own. I would keep a record of how long this goes on and talk with a professional about it. They will ask you about her behaviors and what you do to help her.

Above all you need your sleep to better help her tomorrow. Good luck to you and I hope things turn around for her soon!

Melissa - posted on 08/14/2013

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Ok comforr her dont suggeat anything asks her why what she needs and how can u jelp listen listen and be patient let her tell u how she wants to be comforted so she can fall asleep ppl have problems and just because we dont understand them doesnt mean whatever the other person is going threw isnt relavent it is to them

Diana - posted on 08/14/2013

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My older daughter goes through this periodically (she's 13 now). In her case it is usually anxiety. She would wake me up at 2am saying that she can't sleep. The first night you feel bad for her, the second night you feel less bad for her, and by the third night you feel bad for yourself. Lol. By nite 3 I would tell her that while she can't sleep, I can. :) I talked to my daughter during the day to try to find out why she couldn't sleep: Was she having bad dreams, trouble at school, tests coming up that she's worried about, etc. Sometimes they just don't know & we as parents end up doing the detective work. I put mine to bed with a relaxation CD that she loves. (The woman on it talks in a calm voice and tells you to relax and picture yourself at the beach, feel the warm sun, etc.) Sometimes that's all she needs to relax & fall asleep. If she just couldn't turn her mind off sometimes I would put on "The Food Network" for her (her favorite channel. Lol) and set the sleep timer. For her the staying asleep was the problem. She had a nightlight which helped a little. We came up with a backup plan in case she woke up & couldn't go back to sleep. I told her she could turn her CD on very quietly if she woke up. We have 2 dogs who both sleep in my bed so sometimes I will hear her come in & take one of them back to her bed to sleep for a while (of course he always makes his way back after she falls asleep.). Other times I would find her sleeping on the living room sofa with her blanket & pillow.

The most important thing that we did was maintain the bedtime routine. If bedtime is at 8 pm & I knew it was going to be an issue, we started the routine at 7 pm. I made sure she understood what was going on: "I know that you've been having trouble sleeping lately so here is what we are going to do to help relax." She likes warm mint tea or sometimes homemade hot chocolate, so I would make a cup for her while we would cuddle for a bit or read a story. Sometimes I would rub her back or lightly run my fingers over her face until she started to relax & look sleepy. I found that she also liked a warm washcloth that I would put in a sandwich bag & tuck inside her pillow case along with a warm compress behind her back in the winter time. In the summer time she liked an ice pack by her feet and in the nape of her neck. Sure it seems like high maintenance, but if you've ever had trouble sleeping yourself you know how frustrating it can be. I would also emphasize to her before we begin the bedtime routine that while I love seeing her smiling face, I do not want to see it before morning unless she is sick or hurt...not because she can't sleep.

Good luck!

Kate - posted on 08/14/2013

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yes i would try to use a night light to ask is any thing wrong may be have fun and move her bbed near the door and leave it open a little
kids get night mares and don't tell parents ,,,
other advice is the sit in the room with er till she falls a sleep and you don't talk or have eye contact its in many books , if she gets out you put her back 1 time you say good night 2 time out you put her to bed dont look or talk 3 +++++++ just put her back
say nothing ever
she will soon get sick of it she wants to talk see if that helps is she being picked on at school ?
be strong your get there

Vickie - posted on 08/13/2013

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Madame Joy, that's sweet, but when it's an every night thing of not getting a good night's sleep it's hard to be a pleasant Mommy during the day.

Madame - posted on 08/13/2013

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Last night I had my 6 yo daughter sleeping on one side of me and my 3 yo son on the other side of me, and I was thinking how much I loved being so close to them, and kind of dread the day when they will no longer want to sleep close and cuddle with me, even as I complain of back aches for not sleeping in the best position.

Jodi - posted on 08/11/2013

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My daughter has a musical carousel that she winds up and listens to if she wakes during the night. She also has one of those nightlights that put stars on the walls and ceiling. Both of these things helped a lot with keeping my daughter in her bed when she woke at night. If she is truly having a nightmare, or is not well, she will come to get me, but other than that, she stays in bed. We also make sure she has a drink bottle by her bed filled with water that she can help herself to.

Yesenia - posted on 08/11/2013

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no she doesn't, she falls asleep and then wakes up shaking. She seems confused at times but says shes not having nightmares.

Gloria - posted on 08/11/2013

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Does she mention nightmares? Or say why she can't sleep. Maybe try soothing music or ocean waves playing quietly throughout the night.

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