DS 5.9 can no longer get to sleep due to a)thinking about sad stuff and b)monsters. Can anyone offer any advice?

(26 Posts)
HoHoHopeForTheBest Thu 06-Dec-12 21:03:09

He has always been a really good sleeper, no problems at all.

He now cannot fall asleep - he goes to bed around 7.30/8.00 and he is not asleep before 9.30 or even 10, and that's from exhaustion.
He is scared of monsters in his room, but that is sort of an ongoing thing which he has solved by pulling the covers over his head.
The other stuff is much harder to deal with - he lies there thinking about things which upset him and then, of course, he can't get to sleep.

I've tried: warm bath / warm drink / story before bed, listening to cd story in bed, night light in his room, staying with him in his room, bringing him into our bed, going to bed later....nothing has made any difference.

He's sleeping later in the mornings because, obviously, he needs the sleep. But this is not really a good solution as it means he's missing out on stuff at kindergarten and basically our whole day is starting much later.

I really need to find a way to help him "switch off" when he goes to bed, rather than start thinking about things.

This has been going on for a good 3 weeks now. Does anyone have any ideas? I'd be really, really grateful for anything!

Timeforabiscuit Sat 29-Dec-12 22:23:31

Going through this with dd who is 5, got desperate and said "oh you'll need a bad dream catcher"and she is currently sleeping with a slotted serving spoon (that way it lets the good dreams through)blush
It worked tho grin

SnowyGrey Sat 29-Dec-12 22:21:40

I had a "happy picture" I used to imagine when I was a child. It was a wall, with a cat walking along the top, and all sorts of flowers in the flowerbeds beneath. In the background was a clear blue sky with little clouds and it was obviously a sunny summer's day. I also say "think about something really nice. What's really nice?" and get them to describe say, a perfect holiday, or a trip to an amusment park or a sleepover or whatever. Then build on that with them for a while... where is the holiday? Who are the guests at the sleepover? What would they be eating/wearing etc.

Fingerbobs Sat 29-Dec-12 22:08:02

And thank you for the book recommendation, Hothead - I'll scuttle off to check it out now.

Fingerbobs Sat 29-Dec-12 22:06:54

Thanks Whit, I was just asking him last night if he thought that might help - we agreed we'd make one, and this morning he told me he'd lost his worst bad dream, so maybe even the thought's helping!

Whitamakafullo Sat 29-Dec-12 06:15:40

Fingerbobs, have you thought about getting a dreamcatcher? My DD, who is 6 was scared to go to sleep for a period earlier this year as she was frightened of having bad dreams. We got a dreamcatcher, hung it above her bed and told her it would only send her good dreams and it worked a treat! smile

HotheadPaisan Fri 28-Dec-12 23:05:21

Try Huebner's What To Do When You Dread Your Bed, very good for this age range.

We co-sleep though, other problems to address in the day before we have a chance at night.

Fingerbobs Fri 28-Dec-12 22:37:00

I'd be really interested to hear how this goes. My DS is just 5, started school in August (Scotland) and is having a really hard time getting to sleep because he's scared of having a bad dream. Also can't stop having 'bad thoughts' before he goes to sleep. And the second he wakes, regardless of time, he panics and screams for us. It's soul-destroying; we're exhausted and yet he really is scared so I don't feel as if I can just tell him to stop being silly. A sticker chart for staying in bed hasn't worked, so maybe we'll try one for going to bed.

hillbilly Fri 28-Dec-12 21:33:20

Hi HoHo - just wanted to see how things are now with your DS. There's been no improvement in our household. We tried the relaxation CDs which she thought were silly, we tried extended settling down time with one of us, and we've tried gradual retreat (leaving the room for 5 mins, then 10 etc).

Anyway tonight I had a brilliant idea - good old fashioned bribery! So after I wake her early tomorrow DD and I will make a star chart and for each 7 consecutive nights that she goes to sleep by herself she will be rewarded - cinema, book or something like that. Anyway let's see what happens.....

Things that helped us:

Emily Brown and The Thing

Anti monster spray (plant mister with water in)

Worry dolls

Fairy dust sprinkled under the bed

And eventually just getting him up at the same time every day (say, 7.30) regardless of how tired he was and putting him to bed with lights out at the same time regardless. Similar to treatment for adult insomniacs!

pinhill24 Mon 10-Dec-12 12:47:33

We have had this with our ds age 4. The flo at school got involved and suggested when he 'sees' the monsters or is worried to imagine shrinking them until they are really tiny and then blowing them away with a big breath. She also told him she usually does it with older children so he would have to be a big boy. He has slept and gone to sleep so much better the past 3 days. Seems a bit odd but it seemed to work!

mnistooaddictive Mon 10-Dec-12 12:46:06

We have had a similar problem but what worked was the calm4 kids relaxation cd.

InExitCelsisDeo Mon 10-Dec-12 12:42:25

All lovely ideas, but we just co slept through the tough years months.

Not helpful I know, but it worked for us.

teaguzzler Mon 10-Dec-12 12:40:33

I saw this lovely idea on tv once where a little girl was scared of monsters so the parents decorated a bottle of febreze then used it as an 'anti monster spray' to help her before bed. Seemed to work well as children do tend to grow out of this stage. I would spend lots of time talking to make sure you deal with any underlying fears too though. Good luck x

hillbilly Mon 10-Dec-12 12:34:01

I'm following this with interest as our DD (7) has been having a terrible time going to sleep since half term holidays. She is scared of a burglar coming in, the other night she was scared of the curtains. The room is too light of dark. We have tried being understanding about it and staying with her until she falls asleep (no improvement), we have tried being firm and sending her back to bed every time she comes out (no improvement). She seems genuinely scared. I am about to buy the meditation stories for children which were recommended on MN.

Hope your situation improves HoHo.

thezoobmeister Sun 09-Dec-12 20:37:54

DD1 used to afraid of ghosts in her room - so we cast a magic spell to stop ghosts coming into the house. Later on it was zombies then vampires and werewolves so we added them to the magical protection list too. When she was much older and had grown out her fears we used to joke that there was a big queue of assorted creepy characters outside our house complaining because they weren't allowed in!

HoHoHopeForTheBest Sun 09-Dec-12 17:39:20

Thank you so much for all your replies, there are lots of ideas there for us to try smile

I have tried staying with him, but he just ended up talking to me the whole time! So while it was nice to have a chat, I felt it was actually just keeping him awake rather than me being there as a calming influence which would help him sleep.

We've talked a lot, and it has come out that there is a boy at Kindergarten who keeps jumping out at ds and scaring him. The problem is that until ds realises that it is this particular boy, he "believes" it is a monster, and this therefore proves, to him, that monsters exist.

I think if we could somehow solve the monster problem, he wouldn't be afraid to fall asleep and therefore wouldn't have time to start thinking and worrying about all the other things which end up keeping him awake.

I hadn't even thought of worry dolls, but will certainly look into them.

Monster spray sounds like a good idea....

anothercuppaplease Sat 08-Dec-12 16:32:10

What is your routine?

For a while, we had 'monster spray' which was water in a spray bottle that the children had decorated/painted. We sang something like 'Monsters monsters go away don't come back another day' and sprayed water in the cupboard and under the beds just before going to bed.

I do stay with DSs until they are asleep, or nearly asleep. They are now 5 and 7 and I still stay with them. Routine is bath every other night, Bedtime milk and biscuit, half an hour of tv (something very mild, they like Madelaine on tiny pops). Then it's brush teeth, book, lights out, and I sing songs/tell nice story until they are asleep. Could you stay in his room until he is sleeping, hold his hand?

lulu2 Sat 08-Dec-12 14:47:55

Another vote for worry dolls here, dd and i would talk through the day at bedtime then tell the worry doll dd's worry and then put said worry doll under the pillow.
Took some time but has worked.

Africagirl1 Sat 08-Dec-12 14:43:57

It helped to let my son choose a "brave bear" that he could sleep with

doughnut44 Fri 07-Dec-12 00:29:14

these worked for my DS age 4
http://www.moonrust.co.uk/worry-dolls.html

Dededum Thu 06-Dec-12 22:11:44

Relax kids CDs - tried that with DS2 as he found it really difficult to sleep.

wellilikemytwinklinglights Thu 06-Dec-12 22:09:24

We went through this with our dd, and unfortunately it was a long phase sad
She worried about everything and no matter what we said she had an answer for why it would'nt work ie friend knocked her whilst playing but it was always deliberately!
We found worry dolls helpful where we would talk about her day etc and the doll would take care of any issues. She liked that. She was generally a happy confident child but come bed time..
She did gradually come through it like your ds will, my dd was about the same age and is now 8 and talks about worries but tells me her solutions too. We used to talk in the day whilst doing something together and I'd ask what she thought she could do to help the situation etc
I do remember that time well and it's stressful but it will pass.
Sorry about the ramble but hope it was useful

xpost - your mum sounds very understanding IWillOnlyEatBeans

Our eldest (6.5) has a very vivid imagination and is scared by loads of things (including monsters) but loves drawing them - would that help with getting it out of his head and onto paper (a bit like grown ups having a scribble pad by the bedside to get all those insomniac thoughts out onto)?

What sort of other things is he getting upset by? Do you get a chance just to sit down and talk it all through so he can set it straight in his head?

Our DS1 gets knotted up about the smallest things like someone accidentally knocking him over at school and not noticing, but quite often won't say unless we make time for a cuddle and a chat.

IWillOnlyEatBeans Thu 06-Dec-12 21:46:46

I used to be similar when I was young.

What really helped was my Mum sitting with me at bedtime (or when I woke up in the night) and talking through whatever was upsetting me - and writing it down, along with what we could do about it. That way my anxieties were acknowledged, recorded and 'solved'. So I could stop thiking about them. I still use this strategy now and I'm 35 blush

It didn't matter how 'irrational' my anxieties were, my mum always took them seriously (rather than telling me not to be silly), which made me feel better.

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