8 year old girl terrified at bedtime

(10 Posts)
Boomerwang Mon 18-Jan-21 18:23:17


For a few weeks my daughter has steadily become more and more tearful at bedtime. Before bedtime she is happy, eats her dinner, playfights with me and laughs a lot. When she climbs into her bed (normal sleep routine prior, no issues) she bursts into tears. She isn't faking it. She gets hot and sweaty and tries to talk, which causes further waves of tears.

It's hard to understand what she's saying when she's like this. The best I have worked out are below:

1. She misses her daddy (who she sees every four days, for four days)
2. She prefers daddy's house as they have fun (at mine we play jenga, uno and she has access to an ipad and pc, and we play fight with pillows and I pull faces at her which makes her squeal)
3. She's afraid of her daddy getting hurt. I don't know why.

So it's all about her daddy. None of this is a reasonable cause for her really emotional outbursts at bedtime. Something about climbing into bed is triggering this and she is having trouble explaining her thoughts and feelings.

I wondered if anyone has any advice for me please?

OP’s posts: |
lockdownpregnancy Mon 18-Jan-21 20:55:21

Hi OP. Can I ask when you and your daughters father split up?
Did he move out?
I can't speak from a parents point of view but I can speak from a child that watched their parents split up and then live with just my mom.
Night times were the worst for me as I had night terrors and serious separation anxiety. I was terrified that I was going to be left alone and I didn't know when I was going to see my daddy next (whole other story on that one!)
Bedtime your daughter is left alone in her room and it may terrify her.
I would suggest you have a chat with her in the morning when she is happy and had a good nights sleep. Just give her gentle questions to ask to get to the bottom of why she feels like this.
Don't correct her, just listen to what she has to say and then as her mom I'm sure you will be able to reassure her that everything is going to be ok. If you have a good relationship with her dad I'd may even consider bringing him in on this so she is reassured by you both
All the best ❤️

Boomerwang Tue 19-Jan-21 03:46:40

hi and thanks for your response, 'lockdownpregnancy'

We split up 6 years ago, and I moved out. Since then we've had a regular schedule of four days on, four days off which has always worked perfectly and she has never had this issue before. Once asleep, she sleeps well.

I will admit to always sleeping in the same room as her since I only have a one bed flat. There are recent changes which could cause her anxiety but I need to help her over it. She has always resisted going to bed without me and would get up several times to see me. I work full time and I'm often exhausted and only too happy to go to bed with her.

The change has come because I had a meeting with her teachers where I discovered my daughter was often tired in class. They recommended going to bed at 7pm. Prior to that it was more like 9pm. So now I have her in bed at that time and for a while it worked great she fell right to sleep. It's been a couple of months and for the last two weeks she's had this crying fit at bedtime.

I have involved her father. I told her she can call her daddy at bedtime for reassurance. He is a very willing father and is happy with this. On a particularly bad night he came over to talk to her but frankly I don't want this to continue. I have no idea what goes on in his house or what he says to her and I really can't imagine what I might have said or done as I never discuss her father negatively around her.

I will try to talk to her again today.

OP’s posts: |
openallthetime Thu 21-Jan-21 22:54:16

could you try a slightly later bedtime so she's a bit more tired, say 8pm? Sounds like she needs an adjustment, 2hrs difference from 9pm to 7pm is quite a jump! And, try to tire her out if poss during the day. Also maybe a weighted blanket might help. They feel like a hug! Get the right weight for her height.

Parkmama Sat 23-Jan-21 20:51:20

My 8 year old daughter is going through this right now, she has been steadily getting more tearful and anxious at bedtime when she was previously quite good at going to bed. She won't even agree to leave the light on and read a bit as she used to do, she prefers that we turn her light off for her. She gets up multiple times during the evening, often coming down for no reason after we have said goodnight. She's worried about us shitting the door and not leaving the light on etc, she used to be a lot more resilient than she seems to be now. Can only think it's either her age and perhaps a natural phase a lot of girls go through or maybe something to do with lockdown and not being at school. I don't have advice I am afraid other than to say you're not alone, I'm a mix of feeling hugely impatient and frustrated and heart broken at seeing her like this thanks

Parkmama Sat 23-Jan-21 20:52:15

*shutting . . . SHUTTING the door!

Boomerwang Mon 25-Jan-21 04:23:50

Thing is, the 7pm bedtime actually works because on the rare night she's not upset (after calling her daddy) she pops her head down and sleeps no problem - except for Sunday nights where she hasn't been up since 4.30am (poor kid has to get up that early)

No lockdown in this country so that's not it but I wonder if the general anxiety about it has affected her? I think we're all a bit jumpier because of it?

I'll see if it passes, like most things do. She had a meeting with the social on Friday so we'll see. I hate that she has to go through that but her father is to blame for that one.

OP’s posts: |


albertsquirrelnuts Tue 26-Jan-21 21:18:02

My daughter went through a similar phase and although it's genuine she was saving it up until bedtime to drag the night out. I set a time to have a chat about what was on her mind around an hour before bedtime and then didn't let her bring it up again that evening. It worked and luckily it only lasted a month or two.

Boomerwang Wed 27-Jan-21 04:45:07

No issues at all last night. Wondering if it's finally passed.

OP’s posts: |
rroddiee Wed 27-Jan-21 21:47:11

Hi @Boomerwang - just to say there are a few excellent sections in Ferber's "how to solve your child's sleep problem" book all about this. If you are still stuck and looking for more in depth information from a professional, it may help!

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