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DD age 9 vv upset at bedtime - can't sleep for worrying

(36 Posts)
CocktailQueen Mon 15-Apr-13 18:25:30

Help please! DD has always gone through periods of worrying about bedtime and not being able to fall asleep. Thought we'd cracked it but the last two nights she's been terrible.

She found a field vole on Saturday and brought it home to nurse. But it died on Sat eve and she has been inconsolable ever since. She had to sleep in our bed on Sat night and last night wanted to sleep in the spare room (it's nearer the top of the stairs and therefore nearer us) but she woke at 11 and came into our bed for the night again. She woke at 6.30 and immediately started worrying about going to bed tonight!!

We bought her a worries book ages ago, and one suggestion in it is to have a 15-min worry time where she can talk to us, and for her to imagine locking her worries away in a box till then. But she's been tearful today as well.

Has anyone any helpful suggestions for dealing with her/helping her?? I don't want to be agreeing with her worries but need this to be sorted out as she needs her sleep! And so do we... and I'd also like her to be able to manage her worries.

She's in Yea 4 and transferring to middle school in Sept so is a little apprehensive about that.


Moominsarehippos Mon 15-Apr-13 18:31:27

Possibly try hypnosis. Make sure it's a practitioner used to dealing with kids and sleep/worry problems. The box is a good approach. Why does she want to be near you - is she scared of something? I there anything specific or something you have noticed during the day that might point to what there problem is? If she's going to a new school, will she know anyone there? I'm assuming she is back at school this week, so maybe it's the end of the holiday thing, when even if they like school, it's a wrench leaving mummy and going back.

As I say to DS - you can't stay awake for ever.

Has she any comfort items or favourite books that she can have with her at bedtime?

claraschu Mon 15-Apr-13 18:40:41

My daughter (11) has gone through this sort of fear several times over the years. She worries about burglars and frightening moments from books or films (she has seen nothing that is really scary, just scary to her iyswim). She was genuinely worried and we just let her sleep with us (we have two big mattresses on the floor), telling her that when she is ready she will take control of her fear.
We made co-sleeping into a perfectly fine alternative for her, realising she would grow out of it eventually.

She has finally got over this fear, and is now completely happy with going to bed, but this only happened after she felt she could always sleep with us if she wanted. Mexican worry dolls helped her, but only because she decided that they would (kind of like AA putting your trust in a higher power.)

Lilliana Mon 15-Apr-13 18:54:14

I was going to suggest worry dolls too. There is a lovely book called Silly Billy by Anthony Browne which is about a boy who worries and his gran gives him some worry dolls. I have used this in school with year 3's and then made our own worry dolls with a lollypop stick, matchstick and scraps of materials.

claraschu Mon 15-Apr-13 19:09:51

My daughter's fears were at their worst between the ages of 9-11, by the way. Also, she started going to sleep in our room at bedtime, because otherwise she would wake in the middle of the night terrified and feel guilty about bothering us.

TheDeadlyDonkey Mon 15-Apr-13 19:14:45

Keep going with worry time. We do this with dd, but it did take a week or so before it started working.
She also has a special notebook that she can write any worries in, then shuts them away until worry time.

CocktailQueen Mon 15-Apr-13 19:34:32

Thanks all... Gosh, I hadn't realised it was so common. She has fav toys and books and blanket that she goes to bed with. Will make a worry doll with her - think she'd enjoy that. Notebook is a good idea.

She went on the internet this morning and googled 'worrying and can't get to sleep' and downloaded a page of hints for relaxing before bed! Bless her.

The school is handling her transition well - we chose the school partly because it is smaller than our catchment middle school (though it's still only 10 mins walk) and more nurturing. Several children from her class will go to her school with her and I will ask that she is in the same class as others she knows.

Just had our worry time and she says she dreads summer holidays because of the nights - apparently school nights are ok, just holiday eves. Holiday nights are fine too when we're away, just not at home. She doesn't know why. She is quite articulate but just doesn't know why she dreads going to sleep. Anyone??!

FancyPuffin Mon 15-Apr-13 19:38:29

When I was about that age, I experienced a death in the family.

I used to be too scared to go to sleep in case I didn't wake up.

Could it be a similar thing do you think? Seeing the mouse had died may have bought up an awareness of death.

ajandjjmum Mon 15-Apr-13 19:39:19

DD used to worry about us dying, and often appeared at the bedroom door in the middle of the night. We always took the view that she won't be doing it when she's 18, so just go with the flow. As it happens, she's 19 and appeared a few weeks ago, wanting to sleep with me (DH was away) because she'd had a nightmare!! grin
We were burgled by 5 men when DD and I were in the house a few years ago, and I always think this probably made things worse. We encouraged her to get over this by shouting out of the window at the burglars, using bad language if necessary, to get the anxiety out of her system. Slightly different though.

FancyPuffin Mon 15-Apr-13 19:39:34

mouse field vole blush

SwishSwoshSwoosh Mon 15-Apr-13 19:54:00

Is she better if she doesn't have to sleep alone or can sleep in the spare room? I would let her sleep wherever, or offer to sleep inher room, because I know as an adult I prefer not to be alone when worried.

I agree you don't want to agree with the substance of her worries but that doesn't mean you can't be kind about the worrying itself iyswim?

CocktailQueen Mon 15-Apr-13 20:02:21

Hmm, FancyPuffin, you may have a good point - dh's brother died fairly suddenly a few weeks ago and although he barely knew dd, and she says it may not have affected her, it could be. Doh. Of course.

And yes, Swich, I am trying to be really kind about the worrying and not belittle her thoughts, while not enabling them, iyswim?

CocktailQueen Mon 15-Apr-13 20:03:01

Ajandjmum - sorry to hear about your burglary - must have been terrifying sad

tigerzzzz Mon 15-Apr-13 20:27:06

My DD is 11 and has had a recurring worry about fire since she was about 4. Around age 8-9 she would struggle to get to sleep several nights a week and she would often sleep in my bed. Now it's rare that she has a problem with it, but funnily enough it did happen in the easter holidays a couple of times.

I think it's when she has late nights. She gets out of routine in the holidays and now she's getting older she has a bit more control over her bedtime which means she gets really late sometimes. It's always when she gets really tired that the anxiety seems to kick in.

I think fears like fire / burglars / death of family members can be harder to deal with than the sort of monsters / ghosts fears because you can't deny they could happen. DD ended up with two smoke alarms in her room at one time and would test them before bed.

She still sleeps in my bed occasionally, but as I'm single and have a king size bed it doesn't bother me and as others have said, she'll grow out of it when she's 20!

Growlithe Mon 15-Apr-13 20:36:45

DD(9) is a bit of a worrier. Last year we went through a bad time when she couldn't get to sleep. All she was worried about was not getting to sleep!

We suggested reading for a bit in bed, but she said it set her mind racing and made things worse.

Lavender spray helped a bit, but what really cracked it was getting her a new bed. She'd previously had one of those metal framed hi sleepers with a desk and futon underneath. We swapped it to a cosy, wooden framed traditional bed, and things have been much better since.

Ledkr Mon 15-Apr-13 20:42:55

If you search you may find my threads about my dd who was exactly the same as yours. It drive me potty and I tried everything but in reality the only thing that worked was sympathy and time.
Lots of reassurance and cuddles.
I can hardly believe we are over it but she seems much better now so I'm guessing she grew out of it.
Good luck

Dancergirl Mon 15-Apr-13 20:44:14

I would agree that you can treat the worries with kindness but I think you have to tread carefully. You don't want to end up in a situation where over-concern fuels her worries and no-one gets a good night's sleep!

OP, have you tried talking to her about her worries in the daytime? I don't know if you have other children but could you make some regular time in the week to spend some time just with her? She needs to know that you're there for her and you'll help and listen, but also that bedtime is for sleeping and not playing musical beds!

Ask her (not at bedtime) what would make her feel more comfortable if she wakes in the night. Could you leave a light on? Would she be allowed to read for a few minutes until she's sleepy again?

What are her worries about the school change? Is it a specific thing or just general uncertainty surrounding a new school? Will she be with her friends? Can you visit the school beforehand?

chicaguapa Mon 15-Apr-13 20:49:54

DD (11) is exactly the same and is currently worried about burglars and nuclear war (I blame Dr Who and Maggie dying). I let her sleep in our bed while I read next to her. It gets her over the anxiety of not being able to sleep and then DH moves her later. She'll snap out of it for a bit and then she'll start worrying about something else. She's always been a worrier and never been a good sleeper, so I fear we're doomed.

FancyPuffin Mon 15-Apr-13 21:29:35

The problem is that the words death and sleep do get mixed together. Thinking of the expression 'putting pet to 'sleep'' that so and so went to 'sleep and didn't wake up'. It's all meant kindly but to a child is scary. I remember that 'Now I lay me down to sleep' pray it fricking terrified me blush

I do think talking about it would help. For me, I didn't want to talk about it because I was scared that that would make it come true IYSWIM (children don't always have rational thoughts wink )

FancyPuffin Mon 15-Apr-13 21:30:34

*prayer blush

OriginalRoute Mon 15-Apr-13 21:52:11

I had years and years of this as a child. It was awful and I had no one to talk to and even if I could have done I was too scared to talk as that made the fear 'real' It's great your DC has you as a listening ear and it will help so much, but be aware your DC may be offering you a smokescreen. She may have a bigger fear she is unable to speak, but offering you a 'manageable' fear so she can get comfort from you without disclosing her true worry. Mine stemmed from the death of a parent, but strangely weren't related to death. Reassurance is so important but in later life I realised my fears were a symptom of a childhood depressive illness so it may be worth consulting your GP or HV

TeenAndTween Tue 16-Apr-13 15:03:32

My Teen used to have real trouble unwinding, relaxing and getting to sleep. These things might be obvious but just in case:
- make sure she is physically tired - easier now the evenings are lighter
- make sure the room is adark enough
- make sure she has wind down time, with light reading not electronics
- keep bedtime the same even at weekends
- discuss the worries well before bedtime
- have you read 'The Big Bag of worries' book (or something similar)
- try the 'I wonder' technique - e.g. 'I wonder if you are really worrying about XXX'

VerySmallSqueak Tue 16-Apr-13 15:15:15

I would go back to the book you were using and go through the techniques in there again.Just keep on at it consistently until she moves past this point.

CocktailQueen Wed 17-Apr-13 07:07:58

Gah, she was worse than ever last night. She was in the spare room. I lay with her for an hour and she still wasn't asleep, and got really stroppy when I tried to leave. We're not having any evenings...

OldBeanbagz Wed 17-Apr-13 07:21:13

My 11 year old DD is very anxious at the moment and we've just returned to her using her bedtime meditations cd as she's been having trouble getting to sleep.

We've just returned from a long haul holiday so between her being in the wrong time zone and all her Y6 worries, it was 1am before she got to sleep on Monday. Yesterday i convinced her to put the cd on around 10pm and she was asleep by the time i went to bed half an hour later.

We started using it initially in Y5 and it made a huge difference within a few days. It calms her down when she's inconsolable with tiredness and seems to switch her off at the end of a day.

Definately worth a go with your DD though i would probably talk through her death worries (if that's what they are) away from the bedtime routine.

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