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2.5 year old suddenly seems scared to go to sleep

(5 Posts)
Anjelika Sun 09-Aug-09 20:36:28


I'm really hoping someone can help me. My 2.5 year old DS has, for the past 7 nights now, seemed really scared at bedtime. As soon as it's time for me or DH to leave the room (after milk and books) whereas previously he would happily lie down and go to sleep, now he is anxious and keeps asking us to sleep with him. He will cling onto us really tightly and just keep repeating "Sleep with me." As soon as we leave the room he howls. Going into him after 5 minutes does nothing - again as soon as you try and leave the room he is hysterical. I've tried talking to him about whether he's scared of something but I don't think he understands what I'm saying.

We just don't know what to do for the best. At the moment we're just leaving him to cry it out and after about 20 minutes of constant crying he goes to sleep but the situation's not improving and it's heartbreaking listening to him.

Has anyone else had similar experiences?


elvislives Sun 09-Aug-09 20:40:09

Not quite the same because we co-sleep but my DD is the same age and has suddenly got anxious about me leaving her during the day. If I pop to the toilet, leaving her in the living-room with DH and various siblings, she has hysterics and tries to follow me. I wonder if it's a developmental stage?

sarahken Sun 09-Aug-09 22:02:45

My son started this about the same age as your son and he's 4 now. He kept saying that things in his room were looking at him and a lady would stand in his room and cry everynight. I dont know at what age children start dreaming , but I can remeber myself starting having nightmares at this age. I think my ds couldnt differeniate between dreams and reality. All we did was leave his light on all night for him- which we still do and basically keep reassuring your child. Tell him you will come up to check on him in 5 minutes and make sure you do, then 10 mins, 20 mins, 1 hr etc until he's settled and he knows that you will be there if needed. If you stick to your routine then it will reassure him. I have no sound advice, we had countless nights of crying. But the one thing I learnt was not to bring him downstairs or have him in your bed when they request it as it prolonged the situation and pandered to his fears.

Once I stuck to my guns about remaining in his room whilst reassuring him it took about 2 weeks to get back to relative normality, although at times I felt incredibly cruel. Having said that he will not go upstairs in our house alone still, so I have to take him to the toilet even though he can go alone, and we have to turn toys round everynight so they can't look at him. But he does go to sleep within 10 minutes of going up to bed and remains there till the next morning. I think children just grow out of things like this.

I use to have terrible night terrors between the age of 6-8 years and then when I was pregnant with my ds1 I had one for the first time in 18 years. I think sometimes an upheavel or stress can bring on things like this. At the time my son started these fear coincided with us moving, changing bedrooms and me becoming pregnant with dd all within 3 months. Is there anything in normal day to day that could be worrying him, remember sometimes minor things to us can seem major at that age. Hope you get it sorted. Speak to the health visitor sometimes they can send you to see specialists if it persists.

Anjelika Mon 10-Aug-09 15:48:14

Thanks Sarahken - it's reassuring to hear that someone else experienced similar problems at this age. It's interesting that you mention upheaval/stress. This all started shortly after 2 staff changes in my DS's nursery class in the same week, leaving him with just 1 familiar face among the carers. We will stick to our guns I think but do the reassuring bit and go back at regular intervals. We're about 1 week into this so it's good to know it took you 2 to resolve it.

Thanks again


Treesyw Mon 17-Aug-09 11:12:07

Our 22 month old has just started an identical phase. Used to be so good at falling asleep, you could lay her down stroke her head and walk out and she would sleep until 7am daily. Then she suddenly started getting scared of everything, noises, dark, and will NOT go to bed! She insists on falling asleep on one of us and then wakes up in the night and refuses to go back to bed. We're into our 3rd week of no sleep now so any advice greatfully listened to. We tried controlled crying with her but after 90 minutes she was still howling and getting worse. Just no idea what to do?

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