If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s child sleep problem video:
Hi! I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady. And today, I’m going to answer Stacey’s question.
Stacey wrote in and said the following, “We’ve read your book and it worked great for our twins when they were babies. Now, they are 7 years old and one is having a sleep problem. He says he wants me to sleep in his bed. He has a fit at bedtime and wakes up during the night crying and carrying on and often waking the entire house including my three other children. Prior to this, he was sleeping well. It started after the holiday break, the school break. He also says he doesn’t want to go to school and he seems insecure. Any help with this child sleep problem would be greatly appreciated. Stacey”
Stacey, I want you to know that it’s not uncommon for me to have parents write in or call in with ask questions about their older child who either didn’t sleep well up until now or used to sleep well and now something has changed.
You gave me some very important information in that you shared with me that he used to sleep well and something happened over the holiday break that caused him to feel insecure and “need” you at bedtime. So, I would talk to him about what is going on. The wonderful thing about this age is that he can talk to you about what he is feeling and thinking. Try to figure out what happened– was there a conflict with a friend at school, with a family member, was it something he saw on television that is now troubling him. It sounds like something has triggered his anxiety.
Dealing with Your Child Sleep Problems
I would listen, reassure and validate his feelings. Ask him if there is anything you can do to support him. Tell him that you’re going to stay with him while he learns how to go to sleep or remembers how to put himself to sleep and assure him of his safety and that mom and dad do a great job protecting him. At his age children no longer worry about monsters under the bed because they pretty much understand that monsters don’t exist. They worry about the outside world coming in, so burglars, “bad people”, scary things like that invade on their security and the safety of their home. So, that’s why you want to reassure him. I’ve had children in my practice tell me that they heard on the news or at school about a child who got kidnapped or they heard about something on the radio and they become scared.
I want you to reassure him that you and your husband are there to protect him, that you check on him at night before he goes to sleep and that you do a really great job. Talk about this during the day and at night.
Reassure him without increasing his anxiety or creating a new sleep crutch like lying down with him or singing him to sleep for example. You can certainly do the Sleep Lady Shuffle at this age. Start by the bed or by the door, hall in view, etc. Make sure to offer lots of praise and and positive reinforcement for all of this good work in putting himself to sleep and back to sleep. As always, it is essential that you are consistent every night and through out the night returning him to his bed, reminding him of his sleep manners, reassuring him of his safety (if he asks) and resuming your chair position.
So, again, I would also encourage you to read the relaxation techniques in my book because he might need that if he is waking up scared. Teach him to throw the scary thought out and to replace it with something else because if we don’t replace it with something else, then you know what happens with all of us, the scary thought comes back in!
If your child’s sleep problems persists then I recommend you speak to your pediatrician. Some short-term play therapy may be beneficial in helping him to overcome his fears.
Alright. I hope that helps and good luck!
Video filmed by In Focus Studios