A year ago, when school started I began with a new plan for my son to sleep in his own room. This was a long overdue situation, going through a divorce 3 years ago, only compounded it. My ex and I did make a conscious decision to maintain a friendly relationship and keep our son as our number 1 priority, and when married we were not fighting or argueing. My son and I live in Spain and his father is in Florida, up until the beginning of this year, he was seeing his father much more frequently because he was traveling back and forth. He now sees him summers, christmas holidays and usually one other week vacation.
When we first started with the new sleeping arrangement, it was rough for a few months. I would lay in the bed below him until he fell asleep, later he would fall asleep on his own. Most times I would be patient and understanding, sometimes I would loose my patience, but things did get gradually better. I realized that getting angry and yelling only compounded the problem. By the time he went off to Florida for the summer, he was doing much better, sleeping most nights all night in his room. He was still not sleeping over at friends' homes, after an experience he had where he couldn't fall asleep at everyone else did. He only would sleep with his father and my mother, in their bed with them. He went off for the summer and slept in the same bed with his father, now I feel like I am starting all over again. After the summer he went to sleep at my mother's and threw either an anxiety attack or temper tantrum keeping my mother up until 2 and calling me twice to pick him up. I told him no, and not to call again. The next night I was up until 2 again with him because he was scared he had seen something on t.v. that scared him.
My son does not exhibit any other behavior problems, he is a great student, great eater, has lots of friends, and is healthy. I do think that he is emotionally oversensitive at times, has been over consented, has displayed some anxiety in the past but I don't think more than normal. Is this primarily my son manipulating me or is the problem deeper than that?, does he have separation anxiety, sleep onset insomnia ( I have been searching the web)?? Should I bite the bullet and start over hoping that the process will move quicker this time, or should I take more drastic measures??? I have an appointment for next week to see a therapist. I am glad I found your forum and see that this is not an uncommon problem. I would like to think that my son won't have sleeping disturbances for the rest of his life.
You should definitely return to your regimen of having him sleep in his own bed. He has regressed due to the change he encountered while with his father, but he'll be able to return to his prior achievement. Be sure to be consistent and clear about this - no wavering. And you are absolutely correct that it will not help if you don't maintain your equanimity. Becoming angry and yelling will accomplish nothing. This form of separation anxiety can be remedied if you stick to your plan. Wheter or not there is some insomnia is not clear due to the other issue. That will only become clear once he is settled back into the plan of going to sleep in his own bed and falling asleep without your participation.
Get a lock for your door even. Really, nail this down, display no remorse, or hardfeelings. Smile, be happy, re inforce that he is going to be fine, gooooooood niggggght.....
And ignore his tantrums. Maybe you won't be going anywhere at night for awhile, but he is locked in babyhood, definitely.
Warn him that if he is going to go to sleepovers at friends, or stay overnight anywhere, he better learn this style of sleeping quickly.
My suggestion would be to relocate to where your child's father lives so that he can be near him on a regular basis, regardless of the sacrifice you have to make to do it. Imagine losing someone you love dearly when you are just a child, and then only being a visitor in his home a few times a year. It would only make sense that the child has separation anxiety, this is just the way his devastation over losing his father has manifested iteself. I honestly don't think this is an issue of sleeping habits so much as a cry for help...sorry if that seems harsh. It wasn't his fault you and dad couldn't keep it together and you two should do what you can to make the situation as close to normal as possible. You need to allow the boy to have BOTH parents year-round.
I am having the same problem with my 11 year old son, except that he sleeps in the bed with me (don't laugh) I have 2 sons my oldest is now 18, when he (18 year old) was born I would put him in the bed at night with me (he had a beautiful crib) I was afraid that he would stop breathing or something and was constantly waking up to check on him, well he continued to sleep with me till he entered school, I would put him to bed, read story and stay till he fell asleep and around 2 or 3 in the morning here he would come sometimes I wouldn't even know it till I woke up the next morning, this wasn't a problem for me cause he was such a cuddly, fun and lovable kid and still is, he stopped sleeping with me when his brother was born, sometimes though he would come get in bed with me. I swore I wasn't going to do this with my second one cause I didn't think it was normal and would do more harm to the child. I couldn't do it, I started doing the same thing. There were circumstances in our lives where my second boy had to sleep with me (divorce) and my kids and I lived in a small apartment and had no choice, when i finally got back on my feet and moved to a 3 bedroom place we all had our own rooms, well, he never slept in there, he would sleep on the couch or my bed, so now I have rented out his room to friend with a 6 year old daughter (they were homeless, I had the room)BUT now he is 11 going on 12 and this is WAY TO OLD to be sleeping with me.He is also a bed hog I sometimes get up and go on the couch. Oh, and he spends the night at friends houses, grandmas house and has no problem going to sleep and is perfecly normal as is my 18 year old or at least I think so
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