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8 YEAR old driving me insane

(25 Posts)
Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 22:20:34

This is going to be long and rambly...

DD is almost 9 years old and really struggles to get to sleep. Every single night, there is a battle to get her to sleep. This has been going on since June last year. I thought it was a phase but it's really starting to get me down. I get very frustrated and end up shouting sometimes sad

It's not that she isn't tired. She's exhausted. She just fights sleep. Most nights go something like this....

Bed at 8pm. Read til 9pm then Lights out. Between 9-9.30 she will generally get up about 5 times (to go to the toilet, to get a drink, to check the time, to just get out of fucking bed to ensure she doesn't go to sleep angry). She will then start calling me to tell me she can't get to sleep. I've tried cuddles and reassurance. I've got frustrated and shouted and told her NOT to leave her bed and to actually lie quietly without getting out of bed or calling me. I've tried rewarding her if we have a "good" bedtime (I.e one where she only calls once and is asleep before 10). I've tried punishing her (taking away screen time/pocket money) if she has a bad one. Nothing makes any difference. Bad nights mean her calling/coming in to me until gone midnight. 27 trips was I think about the worst!

I get no evening to myself. I usually have work to do after they're in bed but end up not being able to do much because I'm seeing to her. I rarely bother cooking anything because I'm always interrupted. And more importantly, she's fucking knackered. She has to be up at 7am on a school day.

She's an anxious child and I know getting frustrated doesn't help but it's so irritating when she wont even try to get to sleep. We've had so many conversations about it. It's like Groundhog Day. She is utterly obsessed with bedtime. Starts talking about it at around 5pm and seemingly spends hours checking the time and working out how many hours sleep she's had/will have.

Is it time for a GP visit or will I get laughed out of the surgery??

Sorry it's long. Any advice welcome

PrimalLass Mon 01-Feb-16 22:22:48

Have you tried audio books?

donajimena Mon 01-Feb-16 22:24:39

I had this with my son. I have been given melatonin tablets which are rather amazing but I am not sure if you can get them via the gp (bigger picture with my son having SN) hopefully someone a bit more knowledgeable will be along soon. I feel your pain flowers

Needaninsight Mon 01-Feb-16 22:27:46

Ok. She's 9. Not 3.

Perfectly capable of sorting herself out.

However. Think about it. Ever had one of those nights when you just can't sleep. Lying there, getting stressed about the fact you can't sleep?

She's got herself into a habit. A habit which needs breaking. By listening to her, having so many conversations about it etc, you're actually enabling her. Fuelling her obsession so to speak.

I actually think by not shouting at her sooner you've not done yourself any favours! I'm sure I went through a bit of a phase like this myself about the same age but no way would my mother have entertained such tiring times. i'd have been made certain it wasn't her problem (so to speak!)

Tell her. She's fine to just 'not sleep' But it's not fine to engage you in her 'not sleeping' I think she actually needs to know that whilst you sympathise, you can't actually help someone to sleep! Tell her to not focus on sleeping, but to just focus on 'relaxing'. Maybe treat her to a massage or some other relaxing type of treat.

GP might not be a bad bet - she could benefit from some sort of counselling? She's got herself all worked up about it clearly.

What happened in June? Any specific trigger?

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 22:28:25

PrimalLass - Yes. We've tried them. She is sleepy at lights out. Looks for all the world like she's going to sleep. Then sabotages herself by finding spurious excuses to get up 23 million times blush

SewingAndCakes Mon 01-Feb-16 22:30:32

We had this with our son from the age of 3.5, it used to end up with DH shouting, and the rest of us crying. He just couldn't get to sleep.

He eventually, for other reasons, was diagnosed with ASD and was prescribed melatonin by his paediatrician as a pp mentioned. He gets to sleep much faster although he wakes more during the night.

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 22:33:52

Needaninsight - I do shout. I am very "only YOU can make yourself sleep. Stop calling me because there's bugger all I can do". I've also told her she can go to sleep whenever she likes but that I don't need to know about it!! I've tried not talking about it. Lots of "I refuse to have this conversation AGAIN". Nothing seems to help :-(

We moved house in June. At first I thought it was just the new house/change thing. I think it was that initially but like you say, it's now just a habit. It's almost like she's forgotten how to fall asleep. But then when I explain that she can't possibly fall asleep if she's not lying in bed, she doesn't seem to listen. She's actually pretty well behaved and compliant in all other respects. It's just bedtime where she won't listen to a sodding word I say!!

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 22:43:19

Is the melatonin a long term thing? Do you think she could take it short term just to "break the habit" as it were? That's assuming a GP would prescribe it of course.

LBOCS2 Mon 01-Feb-16 22:46:10

Have you tried treating it as you would a 3yo? I.e not rewarding the behaviour? Just go up, silently propel her back into her room, kiss, walk away. Disengaging from the situation. Because at the moment it sounds like she might be getting a lot of 'reaction' from the behaviour.

MistyMeena Mon 01-Feb-16 22:49:05

I have no real advice OP because I'm going through exactly the same. I've tried everything I can possibly think of, apart from medication.

Sleep problems are common amongst children with ASD and /or general anxiety. If this is the case no amount of the usual reward/threat strategies will make any difference.

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 22:52:44

I've tried to not engage but she just cries/shouts/begs/screams etc. I don't want her waking DS so I end up staying in her room trying to calm her.

She definitely has anxiety issues. We had Ed Psych involved a couple of years back because of toilet issues and other general anxiety sad

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Mon 01-Feb-16 22:53:29

Hubby did this - you need to convince her she was asleep - oh I heard snoring!! Or I looked in on you and you were out like a light!!

It does work!!

(Failing that after 9pm ignore - no talking she's invisible - ignore if she comes down ignore if she shouts ignore any questions - takes 3 days)

Failing that some sort of hammer?

Needaninsight Mon 01-Feb-16 22:56:06

Have you tried treating it as you would a 3yo? I.e not rewarding the behaviour? Just go up, silently propel her back into her room, kiss, walk away. Disengaging from the situation. Because at the moment it sounds like she might be getting a lot of 'reaction' from the behaviour.

This ^^

I just think from your post she is getting lots of attention about it, it's starting to dominate all of your lives.

If it were me, I'd tell her to stop talking about it (the run up to bedtime). Literally, hand up, stop, I don't want to know, enough already. Walk away if you have to. Then do a nice bedtime routine and as LB says, just disengage. One final 'talk' about it then enough already. End of discussion.

Going to be bloody hard though, i do sympathise

Needaninsight Mon 01-Feb-16 22:57:59

Just a thought..what's she like at other people's houses? (thinking Grandparents for eg)

Can you break the cycle somehow?

Arseface Mon 01-Feb-16 22:59:05

Does she sleep in her own room? she might be scared but not want to sound childish.
Does she spend much time in her room alone during the day?

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 23:02:29

The hammer sounds promising wink

You're absolutely right. It is dominating our lives. I have tried not giving it any attention. I honestly have. She just ends up shouting like a deranged banshee confused to the point where it is impossible not to engage (and where she's in such a state that there's no chance of her sleeping). It's hideous. I hate myself for saying it but I really look forward to her going to her dad's so I can get an evening to myself. That's awful isn't it? 😕

Tillyscoutsmum Mon 01-Feb-16 23:05:59

She won't sleep anywhere else (grandparents etc). She stays with her dad. I get the impression she's better there (but still calls a couple of times). She shares with her half sister at his house so that helps. We live in a bungalow which I think doesn't help. Just gives her easier access 😁

She spent her first night away from me/ex h last week on a school residential. She didn't get to sleep til gone 12 and was quite upset apparently.

craftyoldhen Mon 01-Feb-16 23:44:29

DD is the same. In fact just sent her back up to bed about 40 mins ago.

Things that have helped:

- she has a story CD on in her bedroom every night. Usually the same one every single night. It's not the story that's important, it's because she can't cope with quietness so anything that blocks the silence helps. White noise can work the same way.

- she has a nightlight that she's allowed on whenever she wants

- she can read, draw and play in her bed. No screens but basically anything else is allowed. I don't care if she sits there playing with her toys till 11pm as long as she stays in bed and doesn't bother me too much. I accept it takes a long time for her to wind down and anything that is mildly distracting helps. I often go in and find her fast asleep eventually with a book, pen or toy still in her hand.

- she often writes in her diary before bed, it helps if there's anything she's worrying about

BUT she still comes downstairs fairly often when she's worried about something, so I listen her her and reassure her but only for 5 mins or so and then send her back up.

It's annoying though I agree, because your evening is not your own.

AnotherSENMess Tue 02-Feb-16 00:26:25

Can she tell you what she is worried about re: bedtime/going to sleep?
Did the house moved correspond with your break up with your ex-p?

Either way - speaking from experience - I think I would write off my evenings for the next month or so (this helps reduce the annoyance, because you have planned this as your evenings activity), plan a new bedtime routine to include a drink and toilet time (assuming this isn't already included smile) and then do the old sleep training slow retreat thing. So the first few days you sit just far enough into her room that she can see you (hopefully with enough light that you can see to read/do a puzzle book or similar) and every time she sits up, she gets met with a monotone of "everything's fine, I'm here, now lie down and go to sleep". Repeat til sleep. After a few days (once it starts having an effect) move just out of her eyeline and repeat. And every few days move a little further away until you are at the limit of being able to hear her moving (rather than turning over).

The other thing I have resorted to in the past is benylin night-time cough syrup. It may not work, but for ds it did, and when he really had got into a place where he couldn't get to sleep, a few days helped break the cycle enough to get him back into routine fairly quickly.

BillMurrey Tue 02-Feb-16 00:46:41

I taught ds some relaxation techniques. The one that works the best is to count backwards from 100 (in his head) in time with his breathing.
At first, I would lie on the bed with him, in the dark, and he was always asleep before I got to 0.

Worth a try.

LeaLeander Tue 02-Feb-16 01:11:23

Does melatonin require a prescription? I'm in US and one can buy it by the jug over the counter. I take 5mg a night and it works well. It's not a barbiturate or anything dangerous. Try it.
I also would take her for mental health evaluation. To be 9 and getting hysterical every night is just not normal.

AfroPuffs Tue 02-Feb-16 01:48:14

Just remember melatonin is a hormone and of course synthetically produced in a lab. I would try other things first to be honest. I think as other posters have said, dont engage with any talk re bed time at all. Perhaps try a sleep/meditation app?

Jenijena Tue 02-Feb-16 02:32:54

At about that age I was similar, although not as bad. I do remember stressing about the number of hours sleep id get, wondering if it was worth going to sleep before breakfast etc.

I had a keyboard in my room and headphones, so i could practise in the middle of the night. My bed was changed round - or I'd sleep feet at the headboard end - because 'pointing which ever direction is easiest to sort helps sleep count more'. And I got into the lifetime habit of listening to radio 4 (boring speech radio --except now it keeps me awake--) to fill the silence.

But mostly the clear pointer was that to was my problem, and to deal with it. I'm generally a good sleeper now...

Wardrobespierre Tue 02-Feb-16 02:47:06

Oh dear. Poor her. And poor you. There's a lot going on in her little life- marriage breaking up, the house move, you starting a new career and a history of anxiety - sleep is so often the first victim. Don't forget that she's on the cusp of puberty too and brain and hormonal changes will make it harder to fall asleep.

I think you need to see the GP actually. There are quite a few charities which offer specific counselling services and if it's deemed necessary, a referral to CAMHS can happen.

I don't think it's just attention or her being deliberately awkward. I think she's suffering from anxiety and it's a very tricky time.

Is everything okay at school?

Tillyscoutsmum Tue 02-Feb-16 18:33:39

Thanks all.

She has had a lot to deal with and I do think it's anxiety related as opposed to "naughtiness". She does write her worries down before bed (to get rid of them) and I do talk to her about it. Most of them are daft things (albeit not to her obviously) and relate to not being able to sleep. She worries, for example, that I love her brother more than her because he's a better sleeper confused or she worries that she won't fall asleep at all, all night. Obviously I reassure her but she attributes any small concern to not being able to sleep. Really random things like "my finger is sore. I think that's going to stop me being able to sleep" 😁

The separation with ex h was just over 2 years ago. She talks quite openly about her feelings about the split and is quite pragmatic (I.e she's sad sometimes that we're not together but understands that it is better now and everyone seems happier).

She's ok at school. It's always been a bit of a struggle for her but actually seems more settled this year because she's made some friends and really likes her teacher.

I will look into relaxation techniques and maybe sleep apps and make an appointment at the GP - for counselling initially (although I know from work that the waiting list for CAHMS is very lengthy in my area!)

Thanks again for the responses

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