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Anxiety and Stress in 10-year-old causing sleep problems

(8 Posts)
daydreaming123 Sun 11-Jan-15 19:11:16

I'm really hoping someone can help me, am at the end of my rope sad and feeling desperate now. My 10 year old DD has, since last Sunday and apropos of nothing, displayed such dreadful anxiety and stress that she can't get to sleep and , just now, made herself sick.
She's not ill ( I've checked) nothing's changed at home, there's been nothing dramatic happen in the family, she's perfectly happy at school. I've talked with her over and over about what could be troubling her, but it seems it's a general worry over going to secondary ( although she's only in Y5 ) and her group of friends going off to new places. Her best friend is possibly ( and it is just a possibly ) moving away, but she's known this for ages, but nothing's for sure and anyway it wouldn't be for another year.
She's normally extremely sparky and full of life, and this has come on literally overnight - she went to bed fine last Sunday, got up an hour later crying and , at home and in the evenings, has been feeling awful since. I asked her if she had a bad dream and she says she did dream that we all had a car accident ( we did see ambulances and police on the road last week, but didn't witness the accident ) and I've talked that through with her and she says she's not worried about it any more.
The worst of it is that each time we talk about something, and she says she feels better, she then comes up with something else. It's almost as if she doesn't want to feel better hmm She's been fine during the day, and I have mentioned this to her teacher who's been very supportive but says she's exactly the same as normal at school. I can't work out if she's somehow pushing her boundaries on purpose, but then she says she really does want to go to sleep.
I've bought the Relax Kids meditations, sat with her and done breathing exercises, got her a worry doll - nothing seems to be working. She's one of those children who needs their sleep - this has been the case ever since she was a baby. If she has more than one late night her moods are off the scale afterwards, so after six nights of not sleeping I know that tiredness is part of her emotional reactions, but she's just not allowing herself to drop off!
I think it is partly hormonal, but am at a loss of how to deal with it because it's become a vicious circle of her being over-tired, not sleeping because she's over tired, then getting more over-tired, then being hormonal and worried. Aargh, sorry for this long post, any help or advice at all would be so welcome. Thanks so much.

Wotsup Sun 11-Jan-15 19:30:38

Book: What to do When you Worry Too Much.

Sorry, don't know how to link to Amazon. It may be better worked through with a TA at school rather than mum or dad but it's a worthwhile project book if taken slowly.

Don't reassure her too much as it feeds her fear. Tell her it's perfectly OK to worry as we all do it as a safety thing but as she grows she will learn to deal with each worry as you and your husband do every day.

Don't expect quick results but don't expect this not to go away either.


daydreaming123 Sun 11-Jan-15 21:06:18

Thank you Wotsup have bought the book on Amazon. I probably have been reassuring her too much and feeding the monster blush along with getting angry blush again. Not dealing with it very well at all.

pandora987 Mon 12-Jan-15 10:51:06

can you stay with her in her room? My DD was anxious at night due to family issues and needed me there to help her sleep. Not ideal, but it did work for a few months and then the minute she went to secondary school she asked me to leave and was fine.

porridgeandwasp Tue 13-Jan-15 20:07:06

We have had a similar problem here since Christmas and I don't want to tempt fate but DS1 (10yrs) slept 8pm to 8am (he was catching up!) on Sunday and 9pm to 7am last night.

Prior to that we have had some dreadful nights. This is from the DS1 who slept through the night from 12 weeks and other than being an early riser (6am starts so nothing too drastic) has never really caused us any problems sleep wise.

But something changed over the Christmas holidays - I think it was a combination of some late nights disrupting his body clock mixed with watching things like ET and Harry Potter. Even though he's 10 years old he's still petrified of anything remotely scary and stupidly I thought he would be able to handle those types of films (like DS2 can who is only 6!).

Anyway we've had some nights where he wouldn't drop off until 2am, some nights I have given up and had him in bed with me, some nights he fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion but would then be tossing and turning all night with night terrors keeping the whole house awake. Before going to sleep we would have all kinds of hysterics, crying, shaking and generally extremely distressed. Nothing we said or did made any difference and I'm ashamed to say that one night I did loose my temper and shout at him which clearly was't going to aid the situation...

When we asked him about it all he could say is that he was scared of being on his own and that we would go out and leave him when he went to bed (we have NEVER done this ....well, other than out to see friends etc and he's in the care of a babysitter but he always knows where we're going etc)

So I thought I would let you know what has helped (none of it worked immediately though, it been a cumulative effect) and at least given us 2 nights of undisturbed sleep:

Moving his brother in with him - they have gone back to sharing a room which isn't ideal as their room is tiny
Buying a new mattress - his mattress was really old (think over 15 years! it was a hand me down from DH's parents) and quite uncomfortable so he really was due an upgrade
Buying new pillows - these weren't 15 years old (!) but they weren't very comfortable
Getting some audio books on DH's iPod for him to listen to
Leaving an extra night light on
Moving his bedtime to the later time of 9pm
Turning the TV up and having very loud conversations downstairs after he's gone to bed, basically letting him know we're still there
Having long chats about how normal it is to not be able to get to sleep and to be scared sometimes

Hopefully some of the suggestions above might help?

HopeNotFear Tue 13-Jan-15 21:06:05

I could have written original post, in fact I did post very similar in CHAT last week. Our 10 year old DD suddenly started getting herself into a right old state at bed time, worrying about lots of things such as someone breaking into our house & killing me, her dad or herself, someone in the wider family dying, me or her would die because her false nail fell into her popcorn & we ate it hmm, and silly stuff like that (not that we told the worries were silly). It didn't matter how much we reassured her, she still couldn't sleep & either came in beside me or DD & I had to sleep in the spare room (twin beds).

Another poster suggested the book "What to do when you worry too much" and within 2 nights she was back sleeping in her own bed again. Her Dad and I worked through the book with her & she feels much better.

I would definitely recommend it.

Good luck.

Quitethewoodsman Tue 13-Jan-15 21:18:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

daydreaming123 Thu 15-Jan-15 22:36:39

Thank you everyone for your replies and advice. We have been working through What To Do When You Worry Too Much and it's absolutely brilliant. She's responded very well to it and there's been a marked change ( for the better ) in her. The breathing and relaxation exercises at bedtime have started to work too, and she looks forward to them.
Her sleep is on the way to being back on track ( although it could well flare up again and was probably a precursor for things to come at puberty ) thank goodness.
In hindsight ( such a great thing wink ) we had a very busy Xmas holiday with lots of late nights and visiting people, so she was quite disrupted. She's still worried about the things she was concerned about before, but the book helping with strategies to deal with them.
I was meant to go out one night this week and cancelled so I could make sure she settled, but DH and I have quite an important event tomorrow night that's been in diary for months. Our usual sitter who she loves is coming but DD is getting worried she won't get to sleep if I'm not there. We've talked about it and I really hope she can do the breathing techniques on her own. She's also responding better to the Relax Kids meditations, so she'll have those too. Fingers crossed.

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