6 year old sleep at my wits end

(28 Posts)
Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 21:14:41

Please be gentle with me as I know this is a problem of my own making but I need advice.

My son is 6, will be 7 in July. Every night is the same routine. Wash, book, cuddles and goodnight kiss. I then sit on his floor by the door and wait to for him to fall asleep before I leave. It’s been like this since as long as I can remember. I just can’t do it anymore. It’s taking longer abs longer for him to fall asleep (lockdown definitely hasn’t helped) and I’m just exhausted by it all. I try abs leave and he screams and cries and comes downstairs and the night carries on like that until I end up falling asleep on his floor.

He told us he was scared of the dark and of certain things he had seen whilst watching YouTube. He has a nightlight and YouTube has been strictly policed for about 2 months now and it’s made no difference.

What can I do? I don’t want to just shut the door on him and hear him scream? But at the same time I feel like shutting my bedroom door and screaming that it’s all come to this.

Any advice appreciated. smile

OP’s posts: |
PracticingPerson Sun 14-Feb-21 21:18:58

Hi, firstly don't worry about whether it's your fault.

I would start by leaving the room for a few minutes to 'just go and make a cup of tea' and go back. Can this be done without upset? If it can, can you extend it gradually perhaps?

Have you tried explaining you need to be able to do know be etc. - does you child understand this do you think?

PracticingPerson Sun 14-Feb-21 21:19:44

Typo: know be = jobs

Snowymcsnowsony Sun 14-Feb-21 21:21:14

Repercussions for you being too tired the next day.. Your ds is old enough to realise you all need a decent bedtime routine..

girlmummy25 Sun 14-Feb-21 22:01:17

Have you tried moving to just outside the door so he cannot see you but so he can hear you and just keep reassuring him? With the hope of just your voice becoming his comfort? Could then use a baby monitor then eventually nothing

parietal Sun 14-Feb-21 22:03:14

Would a new big teddy bear & a promise to stay in bed help him not be scared? That helped mine at that age.

Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 22:04:58

Thank you PractisingPerson I will give the cup of tea a go tomorrow night and see how it goes. I’ve tried gradually sitting on the landing and in my room etc but it just takes so much longer because he’s always calling out to check in still there.

I’ve tried telling him today that I have jobs to do whilst he’s settling in bed. He says he knows but he wants me to be with him. I’m determined this isn’t going to happen with my almost 2 year old!

OP’s posts: |


Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 22:07:42

parietal thank you. He has a special teddy that he’s had since he was about 2 that he has every night. He cuddles that. It’s normal size though, do you think a larger one would be better? He saw some massive ones in the supermarket today for Valentines that he likes.

OP’s posts: |
Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 22:08:34

girlmummy thank you. I have tried that and found it takes so long as he’s calling out every 30 seconds to check I’m still there! hmm

OP’s posts: |
Soontobe60 Sun 14-Feb-21 22:11:01

This needs a very gradual intervention to be successful. Your ds is used to having you there whilst he falls asleep and that’s not going to change overnight.
Start off by explaining to him that now he’s a big boy you're going to teach him to fall asleep properly. Try getting a book like this one
Make sure he’s involved in this and sees it as a positive step.

Tatogratin Sun 14-Feb-21 22:12:47

Audiobooks can work very well.

Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 22:13:09

Soontobe60 thank you. The book looks great I am going to order it and have a read.

Your suggestions are all so kind thank you.

OP’s posts: |
mushforbrain Sun 14-Feb-21 22:19:56

My daughter was/is like this. She has just turned 7. It’s still a work in progress but ultimately what has helped is as PP have said, gradual process of saying ‘I just need to...’ and disappear for a while, maybe a minute, maybe 3. A bit like controlled crying I suppose.
What has helped quite a lot is getting her a Yoto which tells stories etc but actually we are now finding that the best option is the white noise, which is a crackling fire.
She is now regularly falling asleep without us. It’s not consistent and she will do it more with her dad than me, but it’s improved massively.
You have my sympathy, it drives me insane. Due to covid I have to catch up with a lot of work in the evening and it drives me nuts having to stay with her for half an hour or longer holding her hand, when I haven’t even had my dinner and I still have an evening of work ahead of me. Good luck

IdblowJonSnow Sun 14-Feb-21 22:20:42

Leave the light on? Could you go to your room and watch tv or read in there?
I wouldnt insist he falls asleep in the dark whether you're there or not.

absolutelyknackeredcow Sun 14-Feb-21 22:23:58

Sympathy - my youngest was like this.
We did the kiss kiss routine

Put in bed go outside come back in 1 min, kiss and leave, then 3,6,9,18 mins - you must go back at this time and the knowing you will return comforts them.

Never got much longer than 18 mins

Beyondhope Sun 14-Feb-21 22:40:20

mushforbrain thank you. I did wonder about white noise. Will give that a go. Also leaving the room for short intervals and going back every now and then. It’s hard isn’t it. The couple of hours after he’s asleep and before I go to bed I have to cram so much in. And on the worst nights I’m just too exhausted for anything so go straight to bed. I hope once school is back that he’ll be more tired so that will help a bit too.

IdblowJonSnow great name! He has a plug in night light that we leave on all night so it’s not dark when he goes to sleep.

absolutelyknackeredcow thanks for the idea. I might combine this with telling him I’m just popping to do a job/get a cup of tea. Then go back kiss and then back out for another job. I think this would work well with him and he would
know for sure I would be coming back.

OP’s posts: |
rainbowninja Sun 14-Feb-21 22:53:54

If it helps, my 6 year old dd doesn't go to sleep without me or DH. During lockdown bedtime has got later and it takes about an hour to get her off to sleep. To be honest I've just tried to embrace it rather than give myself a hard time. We do something 'fun' like a quiz on my phone and then a story and she'll usually fall asleep while I'm still reading but if not we put 'rain sound' on Alexa. Gradual definitely best and don't put any additional pressure on yourself.

Jinx2020 Mon 15-Feb-21 00:10:01

You have my sympathy - my 5 year old son is just like this and it is driving me crazy! Esp as I need to catch up on work at night and his sleep is getting more challenging as lock down continues. Sitting in a dark room with him for 2/3 hours trying to get him to sleep really puts me in a low mood and stresses me out with all the stuff I should be doing.

I started with sporadic success to first leave for a few minutes to 'do a job' and then come back. He's afraid to be upstairs alone (a whole other issue) so do something like tidy my room or organise in the office and pop in and out. At first he was in and out of bed and calling out but in the end he improved and was staying in bed and calling out less over a week. I then progressed to telling him I would be in the office working and would check on him every ten minutes which over the last two weeks I have built up first to twenty minutes then thirty min checks. It is improving however every fourth night or so it seems to go back to square one for a night and he is crying and I end up just sitting by his bed. But I will take small steps - it feels like progress!

You have my total sympathy and I think there is quite a few in this situation at the minute.

Beyondhope Mon 15-Feb-21 21:11:31

Well I am an hour in of going back in every 5/10 mins to give a kiss and reassurance and there is still a lot of tears and upset. Don’t think I’ll be having any evenings to myself for the foreseeable sad

OP’s posts: |
Butcanyoujusttellme Mon 15-Feb-21 21:18:16

Can you say I’m going to pop back in, in 1 minute and if I do and you’re still in bed with your eyes closed, You get a sticker/ some other tiny reward.
I’ll do it again in 2 minutes / 3 minutes / 5 minutes. Once you get x amount of stickers you get to pick a toy (can be of pre selected toys like bubbles, packs of stickers, colouring pencils, little cars or a mini chocolate bar - whatever is in budget and reasonable whilst being of interest)

Then you begin to space it out, keeping the prizes but he’ll only get one every 2 days then every 3 days and so on

Butcanyoujusttellme Mon 15-Feb-21 21:21:07

Op sorry to hear it’s not been great
Perhaps the prize may help him be more on board.
Are you talking to him much when you go in? Don’t interact and negotiate
Literally kiss or whatever you’re doing ‘I’ll be back in x mins’

peanutbutterandbananas Mon 15-Feb-21 21:25:28

I think lockdown could make him feel more unsettled so it may be extra hard at the moment (but hopefully not in lockdown for much longer?! He may be more tired out once back at school and this routine won't last as long!!). I think leaving and going back is a great idea, and maybe a nightlight. And def agree with trying an audio book or story cd, maybe pick one together on Amazon that he really likes, Paddington is a nice one! It isn't your fault, some children need more security and find going to sleep harder... it won't last forever... but I hope you find somethings that help!!

Merename Mon 15-Feb-21 21:35:44

Don’t be disheartened. I think you just need to persevere with what you are doing for a while. I think they learn from us ‘this is how we do things’ and while you were following him with the door thing, he thought he was following you. Now you are showing him we are doing a new way, and of course he will use his usual strategy to get you to come back. I’d suggest keeping going as you are for a few nights, talking to him about how it’s hard learning a new way, but keeping calm, consistent and firm. Once he seems to be adjusting, keep extending it, don’t get stuck with this being your new routine. During the day lots of positive reinforcement, random treats telling him I’m really proud of you trying out this new way. Know it’s not what you want but I think you’ll feel really proud when you can fall asleep without mummy there. Challenge is that his age seems to be developmentally normal for lots of nighttime fears anyway, so seems a balance to be struck between respecting his emotions but valuing yourself. I can’t imagine you’re a font of patience every night in this situation - who would be - and that irritation isn’t good for him either. Good luck.

absolutelyknackeredcow Mon 15-Feb-21 22:28:55

Sorry to hear that - it does take a few nights - keep at it

Diamondella Mon 15-Feb-21 22:43:24

My 6 year old DS is exactly the same, I have to wait in the room til He goes to sleep, I just either sit on the floor next to his bed or lie at end of bed, just thinking to myself “just go to sleep, I’m exhausted I just want to go downstairs and have a cup of tea on my own, it seems to take ages. I have tried to say I’m just nipping down to get a drink but then I’ll find he will follow me! So now I say to him - I’m just nipping downstairs do not get out your bed - sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I have talked to him saying how mummy needs rests time etc, but I don’t think at 6 they have an awful
Lot of empathy! My sister told me he needs to be up earlier - as he goes to bed about 8pm but not asleep til 9 ish which I know is probably too late, he gets up at about 7:45am so that’s all I can suggest - maybe wake him up earlier so he’s tired earlier for an earlier bedtime.

Join the discussion

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

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in