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5 year old girl walking out of house at night

(39 Posts)
Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 13:07:29

Last night, after a long 7 hour train journey back from my in-laws, my 5 year old daughter unlocked the door and walked out into the night. It was 8pm and she had gone to bed at around 7pm. She wasn't sleep walking, neither was she distressed in any way. We had had a good 5 days away which she enjoyed. She was also happy to be back at my parents for the night before we went back to our house today.
I am struggling to understand why she decided to unlock the door and walk outside on her own. She had got out of bed, dressed herself in her school uniform (she does not go back to school until Weds - she attends school in my parents' village) and walked for about 3 mins up the road. We only realised when I got up out of the lounge and saw the door wide open. I shouted for her and she came running back. When we questioned her she said she didn't know why she did it, giving excuses about seeing her friend and going to school which is about a 5 min walk away. Obviously we are all concerned and will no longer keep the keys in the lock. However I want to understand why she decided to do this. She is a string-willed, very imaginative child who is very into stories about children having adventures. I am just wondering if this is the reason for it. Does anybody else have experiences of their children 'escaping' in the night? I must add that we all get on well and there have been no fights or issues which may have led to this. I have not disciplined her for it, just spoken to her rationally about what could have happened - cars, getting lost etc.

TimeToChangeFor2017 Tue 03-Jan-17 13:08:47

It sounds as though she was half-asleep, doesn't it?

AmberEars Tue 03-Jan-17 13:10:13

This is such an unusual thing to do that I'm inclined to think she was half asleep. Not sleep walking but she woke up and got confused maybe??

Clawdy Tue 03-Jan-17 13:11:37

It does sound like sleep walking. DH as a small boy used to get up and dressed and try to leave the house for school. He used to insist he had never been to sleep but his mother knew he had. A change of scene can spark it off.

blueskyinmarch Tue 03-Jan-17 13:11:39

A 5 yr old wont be able to rationalise what might happen in this scenario. She has been caught up in a fantasy game. I think you just need to make sure that doors are locked and the she can’t get out. Keep talking to her about the dangers of being out alone at night etc but you are asking to much for her to be able to tell you why she did it.

JennyOnAPlate Tue 03-Jan-17 13:12:00

She was either sleep walking or in that odd state of half awake/half asleep and got confused I would say.

FATEdestiny Tue 03-Jan-17 13:13:18

That's what sleep walking is.

It's not literal eyes-closed-arms-out-stretched that you are on tv. My DS sleepwalks. It's not conscious, but he will appear to be fully awake and often will hold a conversatin with you. I suppose it's a bit like being on autopilot.

RebelRogue Tue 03-Jan-17 13:16:45

Sleep walking. Or that half asleep not really awake state where the brain takes over. She probably thought it was morning and it was time for school and that was that. It was not a conscious or rational discussion. I've danced in my sleep,tried to make food,went into different rooms etc.
Deffo make sure she can't leave the house unnoticed in the future.

Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 13:21:08

I am sort of reassured by the idea of sleep walking - maybe as you say - just overtired and brain in overload. The only thing that concerns me is that I am not certain she was asleep before this time. You are all right though - she is too young to really rationalise what she did. It was the way she dressed so perfectly in the dark though which is a bit scary - getting all her clothes and socks on, putting on her shoes (her 22 month old brother was in the same room). It is odd behaviour, even for a child who has been described as quirky by her teacher! But as you all suggest I will be hiding those keys from now on. Thank you for your comments. x

TwitterQueen1 Tue 03-Jan-17 13:22:43

yes, definitely sleep-walking. My brother did this on numerous occasions when he was around 2 or 3.

In my younger days I apparently held whole conversations when I was actually asleep.

amyboo Tue 03-Jan-17 13:24:00

Don't have precise experience of this, but I have a DS who is a little bit younger who regularly does strange things when (half) asleep. He gets up out of bed - sometimes crying, sometimes not - and will have no idea what he's doing or why he's out of bed. One time he sat in the corner of our room for goodness knows how long - DH found his bedroom door open when he went to the loo, searched the whole house, panicked and turned our bedroom light on and there he was, sat on a cushion. His eyes were open, but he had no idea why he was there, or what was wrong. We have had other incidents like this from him too. It's usually when he's gone to bed very tired - when he would be sleeping very soundly for example.

I would class what your DD did as sleep walking - perhaps because she was so exhausted from her long journey?

Jayfee Tue 03-Jan-17 13:24:33

it definitely sounds like sleep walking. my daughter used to do it, and i could talk to her whilst she wad asleep. my husband and his nephew also were sleep walkers so perhaps there is a genetic side to it

Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 13:30:48

These comments are very interesting and are beginning to convince me that it is sleep walking. She is usually such a good sleeper. However the excitement of being away (and a few late nights) and then a very long train journey must have caused it. It is almost certainly the first time this has happened but I clearly need to be aware of it as it might not be the last. Thanks again! x

PerspicaciaTick Tue 03-Jan-17 13:31:13

I used to think about having an adventure at that age, planning it all out in very great detail and (in my case) getting to the verge of implementing my plans. the difference with me would have been not following through. In the cold light of day I would realise how silly my plans seemed (not that that stopped me from returning to them, mulling them over and looking for improvements), far too silly to actually tell anyone about them.
So I wouldn't be entirely surprised if your DD had blurred the line between imaginary adventures and real life. But if she can't or won't tell you the details, you just need to make sure she is safe and put the door keys out of reach.

Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 14:16:35

Thanks Perspicacia for your comments. I think my daughter has indeed blurred the lines somewhere. I too as a child had these thoughts! Unlike my daughter I did not act on them either. Whether she was sleep walking or inventing a new story in her head, those keys will be far, far away...

Littleballerina Tue 03-Jan-17 14:22:10

My daughter is a sleep walker who swears she was awake each time.
She wanders but hasn't made it out of the house yet. We put bells on the doors so we at least know that she's up and about.

PickAChew Tue 03-Jan-17 14:25:15

The safest place to keep your keys when you have a child at risk of escaping is on you. You do need to be able to get at them quickly, without confusion, if there's a fire.

Something else to do is to install door alarms, which alert you if a door has been opened. Make sure windows are locked, too, even in summer (most upvc units can be locked open) as she may take it upon herself to try to get out, that way, whether she is sleepwalking or consciously acting out a scenario.

Oliversmumsarmy Tue 03-Jan-17 14:27:18

Dp and dd both do things like this. With dp it is almost always after he has been away. With dd it is when she is under stress.

cx5221 Tue 03-Jan-17 14:38:19

I don't know why but me and my younger brother constantly sleep walked as children.

On one occasions I got fully dressed too and tried to leave the house the only reason I didn't manage it was because my parents found me and took me back to bed it was weird because I half remember doing it but couldn't have stopped myself if that makes any sense.

My brother was worse than me and still sleepwalks the last time he did it was when we all went on a big family holiday at Christmas and shared a communal cottage between14 of us. My brother who was 25 (and 6 foot 4) slept walked downstairs and sat on my (5 foot 10) dads knee grin having a full conversation with him. My dad was squished but didn't want to startle him while he was sleep walking so sat there being squished and listening to him for about 5minutes.
He seemed totally awake because he was talking but he wasn't he slowly woke up while he was sat there taking and couldn't remember exactly what he was talking about or why. He was also pretty embarrassed grin

My ds seems to sleepwalk now though so far it's not too bad so far he mostly just walks around the house until we wake up.
If it becomes a habit you could put a safety gate at the top of the stairs and close it overnight this works for us so far as well as hiding keys quite high up.

PanannyPanoo Tue 03-Jan-17 14:39:39

I have a couple of memories of sleep walking. As I can remember them it suggests that both the awake and asleep parts of the brain are working simultaneously.

Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 14:39:39

Bells on the doors sound like a good idea, thanks Littleballerina.
I have always been concerned about windows, particularly now as my daughter is very into wings and angels and is always talking about wanting to fly. A few months ago she was obsessed with the Greek myth about Icarus and I had visions of her tying on wings and jumping out! However I had the windows barred when we moved to the house last year as we have original 19th century windows which open straight out. And yes Pick A Chew - keys with my husband and I now in our room!
Although my daughter does not seem to be under stress (as far as I know) the being away thing must have contributed. She has done the long journey before however, indeed on several occasions. But I guess children are changing all the time and their responses to things change as they get older.

cx5221 Tue 03-Jan-17 14:41:53

Oh one more tip if if it's common door alarms are good but if you can't afford one buy a personal attack alarm off eBay duct tape the main part on one side of the door and the string on the other side of the door. If the door is opened the string will pull away from the main section and set the alarm off, though it may not be the nicest way to wake up. (We also do this on holidays over the door no one can get in our out without us knowing overnight good as an anti escape and anti intruder)

Cleme Tue 03-Jan-17 14:44:12

All these testimonials about sleep walking are very reassuring - they sound so like what she did last night. I am now very much of the opinion that she slept walked as opposed to deliberately going on a well thought out night adventure! Thank you cx5521 and Pananny

PhilODox Tue 03-Jan-17 14:54:12

My DH did this as a boy, regularly. He had his eyes open, could have a conversation with you, but still not conscious. He'd do all sorts of daft things, but thankfully not leaving the house.
I often catch my 7yo son "crawling on the spot" in his bed, eyes open, but definitely asleep.
The fact that she put her uniform on points to it- probably dreaming about going back and seeing her friends. If she'd been off in an adventure she'd have dressed in ordinary clothes.

purplefizz26 Tue 03-Jan-17 14:59:53

Sounds like sleep walking to me!
Frightening that she managed to make her way out into the night without meaning to!

I would lock the door and hide the keys, and even fit a siding lock right at the top of the door out of her reach just for peace of mind.

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