11 year-old won't settle on his own

(54 Posts)
Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 16:59:30

My middle child suffers from anxiety and won't settle down to sleep without someone upstairs with him.
Guess I am best to go up with him at 9pm?
It does mean I get literally no time with my OH or to sit down and have a cuppa, but needs must right?

OP’s posts: |
ladygindiva Mon 03-May-21 17:01:24

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious but have you tried audio books?

FATEdestiny Mon 03-May-21 17:02:00

You only need stay upstairs as he goes to sleep. Once he is asleep, go downstairs.

Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:02:59

@ladygindiva Thank you. Yes I have. Tried one of those white noise machines too but no luck sad

OP’s posts: |
Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:04:21

@FATEdestiny The problem with that is it takes him about 45 mins to settle. So by the time I make it downstairs it's pretty much time for me to go up anyway!

OP’s posts: |
SoMuchForSummerLove Mon 03-May-21 17:07:12

Nope, no way would I do that, and I have a similar 10 year old.

He needs to learn how to quiet his anxieties himself. I used to give my daughter three 'cards' which she could use to come down and ask me fake questions, but once they were used up that was it.

Quiet music helps her, and reading on her Kindle. If she wakes up during the night she puts her music on low to get back to sleep.

HotPenguin Mon 03-May-21 17:08:10

Can you try the gradual withdraw method that's advised with toddlers? Sit on a chair reading a book in his room, then move to the doorway, then the landing while you sort laundry... Until he gets used to going to sleep on his own? Can you deal with the underlying cause of his anxiety?


Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:09:12

@SoMuchForSummerLove I've been criticised for not stopping up there with him when he needs me to. Apparently it means I'm not recognising his anxieties.

OP’s posts: |
AnatomyJane Mon 03-May-21 17:10:14

Nope, wouldn’t be doing that. And I say that as a mother who’s nearly ten year old coslept with them until the last month. Bath, reading in bed then audiobook. Even when my child co slept, they would put themselves to sleep if I wasn’t going to bed at the same time. They used to say they couldn’t settle without me but on nights when I wasn’t ready for bed I would just leave them to it. They would eventually go to sleep.

UntilYourNextHairBrainedScheme Mon 03-May-21 17:10:16

Dontknowowt is this a new phase or has he always needed you to fall asleep - I ask because I think the response is different.

One of my kids needed to be in contact with me to sleep until he was nearly 3, and I used a lot of strategies to finally solve that without cruelty, but one of my others who'd always slept well had an anxious phase where she wanted me to sleep with her at 9 - it was very hard for me psychologically as I'd only just got my evenings back after 3 years of ger little brother not settling, plus I'd just started a new job requiring me to get up at 5am. However the whole situation was actually different and it was a phase needing a different approach to the child who'd never settled alone.

Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:11:10

@HotPenguin Sadly it's a situation that I can't do anything about and unfortunately will get worse.
We don't have a landing but our bedroom is literally opposite his room so I could give that a go, see if it helps?

OP’s posts: |
Kabloom Mon 03-May-21 17:11:24

We had some success with saying we’ll come back in so many minutes and gradually increasing the time. Or with guided meditations - first with you there then leaving them. Hard going at first with anxiety but it does build confidence. Normal sleep hygiene suggestions make it more likely to be successful.

Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:12:08

@UntilYourNextHairBrainedScheme It is a new phase caused by anxiety.

OP’s posts: |
Gibbonsgibbonsgibbons Mon 03-May-21 17:18:53

I’ve done the lying in bed to get an 11 yr old to sleep thing too flowers

The way out for us was to agree that she would try to go to sleep & I would pop back in 20 mins to check if she was awake (she was always awake because she had to check I was checking) then I would kiss etc again & promise to return in another 20 mins - at this point she was nearly always asleep.
If I forgot to check on her the first time she would just stay awake for hours because the trust was broken.

For mine it was the fear she would be left lying awake for hours as she’s a pretty terrible sleeper.

One of my others albeit a bit younger needed to hear me pottering about for the comfort of knowing I was there.

UntilYourNextHairBrainedScheme Mon 03-May-21 17:20:20

Dontknowowt if its a new phase the anxiety needs to be addressed - not necessarily by removing the cause, if its something out of your control, but by giving him strategies to deal with and distract from it.
DD liked a dream catcher - I'm the least woo person ever but the lady in the "one world" shop where we bought it was brilliant and took helping her choose one very seriously. She didn't really believe in it but liked the pretence I think, and the ritual of emptying out last night's worries so it could catch tonight's. Worry boxes or worry eatwrs help in the same way - write down worries on bits of paper and put them in a box or inside a pouch in a toy for tomorrow - sort of put them on hold.

The promising to come back in x minutes (increasing) as long as she stayed in bed til then also helped. I like the 3 cards idea someone else suggested.

A bit of no nonsense mixed with love - I had to strike a balance between encouraging the behaviour and dismissing the anxiety - obviously neither are appropriate but its a fine line.

blackcat86 Mon 03-May-21 17:20:31

Have you got the calm app? They have these great sleep stories that are designed to help you drift off. He could choose one, lay upstairs, fall asleep to it naturally and then you take the phone or whatever out later

WellIWasInTheNeighbourhoo Mon 03-May-21 17:22:06

Mine likes to listen to music to get to sleep, so did I at that age.

megletthesecond Mon 03-May-21 17:23:31

I've done the same as Kab and increased time between checks. That tends to work better than other techniques for me.

thekingfisher Mon 03-May-21 17:23:39

Old school but an excellent book What to do when you worry too
Much was used with much success.

Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:25:11

Thanks all. I've tried a lot of these things but I think he just needs me close by? I might look at investing a TV for our bedroom as although it is always something I have been against it might help to pass the time when I'm stuck upstairs?!!

OP’s posts: |
SleepyMama25 Mon 03-May-21 17:28:21

Can your DH bring you up a cuppa and you both chill in your room instead of downstairs? We do this in the winter as our downstairs is drafty

Dontknowowt Mon 03-May-21 17:31:19

@SleepyMama25 Thanks, we might try that. Hopefully the 14 yo will behave himself downstairs!

OP’s posts: |
Beetlewing Mon 03-May-21 17:37:31

If he needs you, he needs you. It won't be for ever especially if you stay with him now and help him feel secure, maybe use the time to talk about his anxious feelings or something inconsequential. I'm having nightly phone calls with my anxious 20yr old at the moment as he's had a wobble.

kalikkma Mon 03-May-21 17:40:13

I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. The key here was moving to a small bedroom (no places for "monsters" to hide) and a desire to start staying up later. Later bedtime only agreed if child stayed upstairs alone. 12 years after birth I finally have my evenings back

BurbageBrook Mon 03-May-21 17:45:13

That is bonkers. He needs to learn to self soothe, and I say this as an anxious person. How about audiobooks or you check on him every 10 mins (interval gradually reducing)?

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in