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8 Yr old with really bad Separation Anxiety at night - long, sorry

(5 Posts)
Magicpaintbrush Wed 25-Jan-17 12:57:19

I really hope that somebody else may have some advice to offer on this as most of the posts I've read about children with separation anxiety seem to be about much younger children and my DD turns 8 this week.

Every night since Christmas Day (not sure why it started then but it did), our DD has refused to sleep in her room alone, so I have to sit in with her until she is asleep. It is pretty crap and I end up with backache from where I have to sit on the floor, but I have my phone so keep myself busy if I can until I can creep out of the room. It has to be me, we have tried taking turns between myself and my husband and she won't have it, she just cries for me. If I don't stay in her room it ends in an epic meltdown - tears, screaming, stamping on the floor, banging on the walls (our poor neighbours). The main problem however is if she wakes in the middle of the night - which she always does - and she will wake me and either expect me to sit watching her until she falls asleep again or for me to sleep on the floor in her room, both of which are really miserable at 2am, cold and uncomfortable and it is much more difficult to be positive about it when you are knackered and have been deliberately woken up, and that it has been going on every single night for a month. During the middle of the night it takes her much much longer to fall back to sleep and she wakes very easily if I try to creep out of the room, so I end up trapped in there, feeling desperate to get back to bed. I have ended up sleeping in there until morning quite a few times and have cried myself to sleep, more out of frustration than anything else. If I leave the room she cries and wails and it turns into an epic meltdown. My husband and I are no longer sharing a bed because of this, he moved into the spare room about 3 weeks ago because he couldn't stand being woken up, and to be fair he has to wake up at 5am to go to work and he has a very difficult and responsible job (as he sleeps through any alarm clock I have my alarm on and then go in and wake him, then re-set my alarm for 6am when I have to get up myself - I often don't get back to sleep at all). This situation is affecting our relationship in the sense that we are no longer getting any time alone together. My husband is finding our DDs behaviour very difficult, he is quite impatient (but well meaning) and he has suffered from depression in the past, I think this may be setting him off in that direction again, as it feels like our happy home has been turned upside down and he simply cannot cope with her behaviour. She says it's because she loves us so much and she wants to be with us. She is aware we are all miserable because of her behaviour but she cannot help her feelings, which we do understand.

Recently as well she has had a few worrying episodes which seemed a bit like sleep walking (albeit still in bed) where she was aggressive, thrashing about and talking nonsense, almost like hallucinating. She had no memory of this the following morning. She does seem unsettled when actually sleeping, murmuring and sometimes moaning quietly.

We are working through a couple of self help kids books (one about sleeping and one about worrying), which she seems to actually enjoy. We are trying to stay positive and are trying everything we can think of to get her back to normal but nothing is working. During the day she is a happy and bubbly child usually, and she is full of good intentions, but she can never stick to them when it comes to bedtime. Last night she said she would like to try me being in the room nextdoor and checking on her every 5 mins - which I thought was great, sounded like progress. But literally 1 minute after I left the room she was crying and wailing. Reasoning with her doesn't work, telling her off doesn't work (which we try to avoid anyway if we can), you name it we have tried it. Last night my husband had had enough and told her we were all going to sleep in our proper beds and that was all there was to it, and she had a huge tantrum, screaming, crying, stamping, hitting things, we were really at a loss to know what to do. In the end she slept on a mattress next to me in our room and my husband went in the spare room, very upset and defeated.

We have a doctors appointment coming up but have got to wait 3 weeks. I guess what I'm hoping is that anybody might have some advice, or at least tell me that similar has happened to them and that it didn't go on for years, because I don't think we could stand it. How long will it take her to get over this separation anxiety?

HenryCatPic Wed 25-Jan-17 15:04:45

I'm not sure if our experience is exactly the same but we had issues with our 8yo ds needing me in the room to go to sleep. We think it was because he was so scared about someone else coming into his room who wasn't meant to be there. Although we spent ages explaining about locks etc and how no one could get in, he was always listening and looking which stopped him from sleeping properly. It got worse near Xmas as he was worried about Father Christmas coming in.

What has helped him is white noise and total black in the room. He knows he can't hear or see anything so isn't waiting for it if that makes sense. I am worried that this will mean he can only sleep in these circumstances but I am hoping he will eventually be able to understand that he doesn't need to be scared.

Does that help at all?

HenryCatPic Wed 25-Jan-17 17:03:30

Also to add that he has to sleep with his head under the duvet now

Magicpaintbrush Wed 25-Jan-17 18:31:44

Thanks so much for your advice, it does sound like you have had a similar experience. I did wonder if it was a father christmas anxiety that triggered all of this off, although she loves the whole santa thing so we are baffled. Ultimately we just want her to feel happy and secure and there doesn't seem to be one obvious reason why this is happening, although through using the books we have pin-pointed some of her worries, but even knowing that we still have no idea how to solve the sleeping issue. It looks at the moment like she will be sleeping next to my bed for the forseeable future and my DH in the spare room.

HenryCatPic Wed 25-Jan-17 20:41:35

Best of luck sorting it. I think it's good you're recognising there is something up and supporting her.

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