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Anxiety re nightmares in 5 yr old

(25 Posts)
Shnook Tue 05-Jan-16 11:58:11

My 5yr old DD is an outgoing little girl who loves school and has no (obvious) worries. Since about the age of 2.5/3 she has had occasional nightmares and is very aware of 'scary' things. She finds the seemingly most benign things scary and for example, if we take her to see a show or let her watch a new film, she'll ask if it's going to be scary.

I should say she is v well behaved and goes to bed at night with no fuss. Normally a story, then straight to sleep. She sometimes wakes at night with a bad dream but a quick cuddle and shes back to sleep. Recently more and more she tells me she has a tummy ache at bedtime as she is worried she's going to have nightmares. We do things like think about nice dreams she could have and sprinkle fairy dust on her bed and that usually helps. But the past two nights she's been very anxious and it's taken an hr to get her to sleep. Yesterday she told me in the afternoon that she needs to learn the words to a particular song so she can sing it in her head in bed repeatedly. She got v upset when she told me this. She also said that when people talk to her she 'copies what they have said in her head' and that she just wishes she could have a 'blank mind' and started crying. At bedtime she cried and was asking me to suggest songs she could sing in her head. She was up and down the stairs repeatedly worrying about having bad dreams.

Is this kind of anxiety normal at her age? What's really bothering me - and I stupidly didn't want to admit this as i'm worried that you'll conclude what I'm fearing - is that I had OCD as a kid. I didn't know it at the time - only when I saw a programme about it as a teenager did I realise. No one has ever known about it as I managed to control it. I do know that a couple of other people in my family have it too. I am so terrified that she's showing signs of it. She is so happy at all other times - I can't bear for her to suffer with something like that.

Any advice or experiences would be so appreciated.

Shnook Tue 05-Jan-16 20:15:14

This afternoon she was upset because she had a song she doesn't like stuck in her head. She was saying things like 'I wish someone could talk to me all night and all day' -presumably to drown out what's going on in her head?

Difficult bedtime again. Went to bed really happy but came down 2 mins later saying she needed a song to sing in her head and that she just wishes her brain was blank.

Please - any help - I can't bear seeing her so upset especially when I've no idea how to help.

FattieDoc Tue 05-Jan-16 20:27:32

I can understand why you are concerned.
If this has been going on for say - a couple of weeks then maybe see the GP?
Is there anything other major changes in your life of hers at the moment?
It can be a bit tricky with children so young- but it sounds like she is very intelligent and articulate so I wouldn't just ignore it without discussing with a professional at minimum at least. Sorry, I'm not much help but hopefully another poster has better ideas. 🌻

Shnook Tue 05-Jan-16 20:57:08

Thanks so much Fattie. No, no life changes at all. And I've asked her if there's anything she wants to tell me that she's worried about and all she says is it's the songs in her head bothering her and she wishes her brain was blank. It started Sunday night before 1st day back at school but honestly I don't think she's got concerns about school - she was counting down the sleeps til the first day back and is always raring to get there in the mornings. The only thing I can think of is that night we were watching aone of those clips programs and they showed a clip from the film, Scrooge, with the ghosts - I saw in her face that she didn't like it but she didn't mention it and when I've asked if something on tv has scared her she says no. But even if it was that, I don't know how/why that would cause the songs/noise in the head business.

I'm worried that because I don't know what/why she's doing it, rather than helping her, I might be in someway indulging her and encouraging it.

FattieDoc Tue 05-Jan-16 21:15:15

I understand your worries... My daughter(now 6) had been reading dragon stories when she was five... She didn't sleep for almost 3 days!!! She kept screaming her head off at nights saying the dragon was going to get her and hiding under the covers! Thankfully it settled down. It sounds like you are doing a great job of comforting and reassuring her. Go the GP in a couple of days if it's not setting down. I was about to for my daughter but then she stopped!

Shnook Tue 05-Jan-16 21:32:57

The nightmares have happened on and off for years - it's this songs/noise in the head business that's really bugging me, especially as it's happening during the day too. Thanks - I think I will go to the Dr, I know I'm just going to worry myself stupid otherwise.

FattieDoc Tue 05-Jan-16 23:40:38

🌻. I agree with you completely. Go see the GP and explain everything. Ask for a referral of needed( GP's can be reluctant) . There's just no point in worrying yourself everyday. Get some peace of mind and deal with things as they come. 🌺

Shnook Wed 06-Jan-16 12:27:31

Thank you. I've got an apptmnt to see the Dr. Have been looking online and keep finding info which points to OCD. I know it's only been going on a few days and I might be overreacting - really hope I am - but I feel so sad that she could have that and I'm dreading her coming home from school as I know she's going to start mentioning it again.

Believeitornot Wed 06-Jan-16 12:32:41

I would stop with the tv shows like scooby etc as they might make it worse without her necessarily making that link. I was quite anxious as a child and had awful nightmares.

What might help in the meantime is sitting with her as she snuggles in to bed and just ask if anything is worrying her or if she is thinking about anything. I do this with my 6 year old and he usually comes out with stuff which surprises me. He then sleeps very quickly - it relaxes him

How much physical exercise does she get? She might need more of that plus a bedtime chat to make sure she is tired in the right way for bedtime.

Shnook Wed 06-Jan-16 14:17:18

Yes I've been asking her at bedtime to tell me if anything's worrying her but she can never think of anything. Ive ended up stroking her til she gets drowsy a couple of nights which has helped - but she's never needed anything likethat before and as much as i want to relieve her stress, i don't want to make things worse by creating new habits.
We've cut down tv and have restricted programmes. She does gymnastics and dancing clubs once a week and park etc at weekends but generally on week days there's not much time to do stuff after school.

Shnook Wed 06-Jan-16 14:18:36

I also thought about putting the radio on quietly in her room at night but again, would that be somehow encouraging the behaviour and creating a new habit rather than dealing with the root of it?

Shnook Fri 15-Jan-16 20:17:45

Update- went to Drs. Dr said she was v young for it to be OCD. She was more concerned that I'd brought her to the Dr's about 3/4 weeks earlier with a very bad headache and said she couldn't ignore the fact she'd had a bad headache and now I was reporting a change in behaviour. She said she doubted v much the two were linked and told me not to worry but asked if I'd noticed anything else like clumsiness, vision problems (which I haven't). TBH when she got the headache a virus was going round and loads of other kids had headache, temp, sore throat etc. She just had the headache.

Dr Told me to look out for anything over the weekend and she would call me on Tues. Also said to try not to indulge her behaviour too much. As it happens the same day I saw the Dr, she got sent home from school for falling over and cutting her face -( she was running and tripped).

I'm still having problems with her. It always starts early evening. She gets a worried look on her face and then I know I'm in for an unhappy BT. Another friend of hers fell over the same day and gashed her head and had to go to hospital. The next day she was looking worried at BT and told me she's worried about her friends getting hurt. Another night I left her upstairs brushing her teeth for 2 mins and she came running down crying and terrified saying she was thinking about scary dreams and it was giving her tummy ache. Tonight again she came down after BT saying she was worried about her friends.

I try not to go OTT and sometimes that works. But when these episodes happen she looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and i just don't know how to stop it. I'm so worried its just going to escalate. Interestingly, she was looked after by her auntie the other night and there was none of this behaviour at all. Dr said we can review her behaviour in a few weeks if I'm still concerned (assuming I notice nothing else that alarms me in the meantime). I am finding this so draining as i'm on eggshells come early evening.

Clare1971 Sat 16-Jan-16 14:53:41

This sounds really hard and I can see why you're worried, especially after the doctor's comments - though it's good your GP is not just dismissing it. I guess you have to walk the tightrope between comforting her but not giving the impression that you think there is something to be scared of. Sort of be matter or fact and sympathetic at the same time. Plus trying to do normal, fun things so she can switch off from her worrying thoughts for a while. I'd probably be back to the GP if it doesn't calm in a week or so. Your GP sounds pretty good.

Barbie1 Sat 16-Jan-16 14:58:55

My 5 year old sounds very much like yours..down to the tummy aches before bed.

Dd was diagnosed with GAD, generalised anxiety disorder. I currently can't link but plenty of links in Google.
Would any of this sound like your daughter?

Hang in there, I know it's tough sad

stargirl1701 Sat 16-Jan-16 15:02:15

Would co-sleeping help?

Shnook Sat 16-Jan-16 20:10:25

Thanks all. Yes I agree Clare - it does seem that she needs me to reassure her but comforting her too much encourages it. I've just looked up GAD Barbie - she does show some signs of that actually but she sleeps well and is a confident outgoing girl who is not afraid to try new things most of the time. What things does your LO worry about and what have you been advised to do? Is she having any treatment?

An example of her worrying is I've just told her we are taking her to a museum tomorrow and she was excited but a few mins later she asked me if it would be dark in the museum.

Stargirl - I don't think co-sleeping would help as she's always been a brilliant sleeper and normally goes to bed no probs. This isn't really affecting her sleep. Like i say, she has the odd nightmare now and then but it's not like she wakes really distressed - she is very easily put back to bed with a cuddle. Its almost the fear of nightmares that is worse for her.I think co- sleeping would start a new habit unnecessarily?

Barbie1 Sun 17-Jan-16 06:16:44

Dd sleeps really well too, the odd night terror here and there but usually gets a good 10 hours a night.

Dd has a school trip tomorrow, she is excited but nervous about the coach, "will it have seat belts mummy" "what if we are late and it leaves without us" "what if the driver doesn't know the way and we get lost" and on and on it goes.

I have to keep a diary of when she is especially anxious and anything that could of possibly trigger it. I also have to use positive praise a lot and not talk about anything in a negative sense which is very hard

I have been advised to enroll her into group activities to build up her confidence and encourage her to push her boundaries. It's hard and somewhat challenging but we are slowly making improvements.

Has your daughter got a favorite book? Or a teddy. We were advised to keep the bed time routine the same each night for a fortnight. We let dd choose a new teddy who will look after her when she slept and a new book (paper dolls is lovely) she knew the book by heart after the first week and she was soothed much easier.

Also try the worry doll method, my dd loved this.
You can purchase worry dolls on line and there is a book to go with it. Basically your dd is told to tell the dolls all her worries and they will take them away from here. It was a lovely idea and we still practice this now if she is very anxious.

Good luck x

Shnook Mon 18-Jan-16 21:16:00

Hi Barbie. Thanks for your reply. Your LO sounds like she's more anxious than mine - must be so hard-going on you. Do you feel like you're on eggshells all the time?

I love the doll idea - will definitely give it a try if this continues. X

HelsBels3000 Mon 18-Jan-16 21:22:01

With regards to the songs in her head and bedtime - we have bought a white noise machine for our DD (which she likes to have turned on to bird noises) to help her sleep. She has suspected ASD and diagnosed ADHD and is a born worrier. I have to act quite dismissive, if I indulge her concerns it almost makes her worry more.

Shnook Tue 19-Jan-16 12:40:22

Hi Helsbels. What's ASD?

Shnook Tue 19-Jan-16 12:42:34

Sorry, posted too quick - meant to also ask does your DD complain of songs in her head or something similar? Yes I'm finding the dismissive approach seems to be better than getting into a big discussion about nightmares/songs in the head etc.

Eriyi Tue 19-Jan-16 12:58:50

I have been having problems with my 6 year old DS with anxiety and sleeping. I looked around the internet and found a suggestion to write down the worries in a book and then you shut the book and leave it there. This has helped me acknowledge the worries without a big discussion and it did seem to work. I also play some guided meditation for children and this does seem to help sooth and relax

Shnook Tue 19-Jan-16 16:45:55

That's a good idea Eriyi. I do that when I'm laying in bed stressing about work - really helps.

HelsBels3000 Wed 20-Jan-16 17:28:11

Autism Spectrum Disorder. She says her head is 'fizzy' - thats the best way she can describe it.

Shnook Thu 21-Jan-16 21:49:28

"Fizzy" - it must be so frustrating for them to try to articulate their emotions and what's going on in their heads but equally difficult for us trying to work out what's wrong and how to help them.

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