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9 year old refuses to try to go to sleep on her own.
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9 year old refuses to try to go to sleep on her own.

We have a daughter who just turned 9 who has trouble getting to sleep on her own. We made the mistake when she was a toddler of lying in her bed to help her get to sleep. For years, she would go to sleep within a half hour. Approximately 8 months ago, she began having trouble, citing general
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If in all other respects she is a normal nine-year-old, persisting with your limit is the most sensible thing to do. It will definitely require biting the bullet, but that's to be expected because, unwittingly, you have given her a lot of practice over the years not sleeping on her own. The problem wasn't created overnight and it won't be solved overnight. But you are definitely on the right track. As you move ahead, refrain from yelling. There is nothing to be gained from that, and when parents yell when they are angry they teach their children that it's a sensible way to manage anger. Yellers tend to bree d yellers, if you know what I mean. Be strong and firm, and at the same time understanding, and this will get solved.
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Avatar_n_tn
It soulds like your daughter is having trouble calming herself. My daughter needed our help to teach her to calm herself. We started a nightly routine with my daughter that really helped her go to bed on her own. Your daughter is a little bit older than mine so I would sit her down and tell  her that you and daddy are going to have a special bed time routine now.

We always give Emma a bath (she likes baths) using a calming soap - see your healthfood store for calming oils or soap to add to her bathwater. If she does not like baths then you can do something else that is calming for her - lotion, brush her hair, scratch her back........

Then we read a book to he in the living room - not her room.

Then we exhaust the list of potential excuses - potty, drink, itchy jammies, too hot, too cold, (just make sure she has no excuses to get up)

Then we pray with her and have her pray too - have her ask God to help her sleep well and have good dreams.

Finally we both tuck her in and put on a CD - we found this greag lullaby CD that Emma loves. It is called "Now the Day is Over" by the Innocence Mission http://www.theinnocencemission.com/now%20the%20day%20is%20over.htm

I hope this helps.
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Thanks Doc and itsme25 for your suggestions. It's reassuring to know we're on the right track. I've read at least 15 similar cases on this site and one of the disappointing things is I never find out what eventually worked for that particular case. So, I'm going to update this with the hope that someone else may see a positive (I hope) result.

Since I didn't see your response early enough, I decided to try the door trick again. My wife and I put my daughter to bed and within a few minutes, she had sought out my wife and had begun the conversation game again. After about 5 minutes, I decided it was time to start closing the door. I went into her room and explained how easily she went to bed after we did this the previous night. I told her we could either do that again or skip the door closing and just go to sleep. Either way, the result would be the same - she'd get to sleep. I left the room, heard a good night from the hallway, decided to let the slide (that's usaully the beginning of the conversation game), and went to another room. Within 10-15 minutes, she was asleep without another word.

Continued on next post.
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Avatar_n_tn
About 1 hour later, she woke up and asked where mom was. I told her downstairs but she needed to get back to sleep. She proceedded to go ack to her room, I tucked her in, told her how fantastic she had done earlier, and she needed to do the same thing again. Within 10 minutes, she again was asleep. At this point, thinking we had discovered the Holy Grail, my wife and I were ready to have a party.

At 3:30, I awoke to my wife telling her to get back in her room. She didn't respond to reason so I began the door closing again. After about 15 times and 1 hour, and a final duration of door closing of a minute and a half (I up the amount of time it stays closed each time), she finally gave up and went to sleep.

I realize this will take time but am thrilled by the advance so far. I'm sure there will be relapses. We might try the benedryl just to get 1 completely successful night and some more confidence.
This morening, I told her she got a "B" for the night. She asked what it was before the 3:30 incident and I told her an "A+". Big smile from that. Hopefully, we're on our way.
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Avatar_n_tn
Congrats!  Sounds like you are almost there.  How about a sticker chart now that she is having sucess of sorts.  Set a number of stickers that she must "earn" by going to sleep without a fuss that she can exchange for a gift that she has been wanting.  9 is a good age for this as she has the cognition and the maturity to understand "earning" something.

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Avatar_n_tn
We had a bit of a problem with our oldest daughter, but I was always firm with her and made it clear she is to sleep in her bed.  What we did for her, after she mastered the ability to sleep and stay in her room, was to buy her a set of bed sheetsand comfortor.  We let her pick them out, and she is so happy to sleep in her bed with her favorite sheets.  But, I will tell you, if we allowed it, she would relapse, and would love to sleep in our bed.
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Avatar_m_tn
I hope new parents who are reading this thread learn from OutOfIdeas experience NOT to permit your kids to sleep with you or to sleep with them when they're young, unless you want years of trying to break the habit. It's totally understandable, as new parents find that it works, it solves the bedtime problem, etc.,  but they don't realize what they're setting themselves up for. Out of dumb luck, we were strict about not permitting the kids to sleep with us and we had decent luck in getting them to sleep. As a result, our kids today (6 and 8) go to bed on their own, sleep through the night, can go on sleepovers at their friends, etc. Other friends of ours went a different way, and now, they still have to sleep with their 8-year-olds every single night.
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Avatar_n_tn
Two more good nights, with insignificant problems. I think we see the light (hopefully it's not lightning).

As far as rewards, they just stopped working for her. For our tiered approach, we let her decide on the rewards for each level. It worked initially but wore off quickly. If any of you have employees, it was kind of the same. Nobody thinks about the monthly goal until the 29th of the month. Then, it's "how do make the goal"? It was the same with our daughter. Until it's time to collect on the reward, it doesn't really provide any incentive. She does have one reward left for when she successfully goes to sleep on her own. She gets to the rule the house for a day. I told her she needs 3 "A"'s in a row. She has 2 so far. I think that's one thing she's looking forward to.

One more comment before I run out of space. I see a lot of comments in many threads about being firm with making them stay in their beds/rooms. I always wondered, How? If you don't spank them and verbal threats don't work, they quickly find out they can leave anytime. I had to physically pick her up and sometimes push her back into the room and close the door to achieve this. Never would have thought it would have come to that. Hope this helps someone else. Thanks again for your suggestions and comments.

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Avatar_n_tn
This has been addressed a couple times on Nanny 911, but at the moment I can't remember exactly what they did.  I know it's a pop show and may be overly simplistic, but you can sometimes take away fairly good ideas from it.  

I'm not sure ruling the house is a concrete, immediate reward.  It could lead to things that you simply can't go along with for safety or other reasons, and then she will feel betrayed as if she did her part and you didn't REALLY let her "rule the house".  I'd try to figure out something else she really and truly wants badly.

And you're 100% right about incentives and employees--that's why when you are dealing with a child and a situation like this, you can't wait long to give the reward and it has to be easily achievable.  A week of stickers or checkmarks may be too long for her--start with one success/reward and build.  

I wish the moderator would chime in with some practical ideas, too.
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Avatar_n_tn
Glad to hear it is working out.  I think what parents ought to take from this experience is, is not to let it happen early on.  It can be tough to handle in the beginning for both parents and child, but if the baby is made to think that he is supposed to sleep in his bed from the getgo, then that is the way it is to be, and it is normal.  I know this doesn't work for 100% of babies and children, but I am so glad we have our bed and they have theirs.  We do occasionally share our bed, and it is a treat for them.  But, as I said earlier, our eldest who is 9, would sleep in our bed every night if allowed, in a NY second. So would our dog!
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I was absolutely floored when I came on this forum and found this thread.  The link you mention in your post is mine.  We are still where we were when I posted that question and it is more than a year later.  Your solution has given me new hope to get this habit broken.  My daughter is now 8 3/4 and still refuses to go to sleep on her own.  I will lay with her for about the half hour it takes her to get to sleep.  I keep thinking someday the problem will get solved on it's own, but I know that's not true.  I believe now that she has no idea to go to sleep on her own as we've been her crutch for all these years.  This problem acutally started when she was about 4 and we did the door holding technique (she was a lot smaller then) and it worked off and on until she was 7 1/2 and since then we have laid with her everynite.  It's gotten to where I don't even bring up the subject with her because it gets her so anxious.  We have taken her to the Doctor and she is healthy.  They said it was just a bad habit... which is true.  I wish she would understand that nobody falls asleep right away and it's okay to lay there for a while and to just relax.  So anyway, thank you for giving us hope that it can work.  Now we just have to put the plan into action.
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I've stayed away longer than I had planned. Well, she failed miserably the 3rd night. But, since then, 16 straight days of perfection. We went away Labor Day (staying up late) and she has had 1 sleepover and has picked up where she left off the next night each time. I really think she's made it.

She is still anxiuos at night a little and we occasionally still get the "What if, can I" questions. Most of the time the answer is "No, just go back to bed". We leave the hall lights on and allow her to come in to our room after 6:00 AM or if the power goes off at night. She's developed a sudden interest in football, wanting to stay up and watch the games at night I tell her she can watch the Saturday and Sunday afternoon games, but mysteriously, she's never around to watch them.

I think what worked about the door closing is the fact we wouldn't open it until she was in bed and silent. The silent part was the key. We haven't had to close the door since her last failure.

As for the "rule the house for a day" reward, she knows there are limits. She gets to decide what we do , what we eat, things like that. I really dread having to clean her room. This was a perfect reward for her because she thought it up on her own. It's far more valuable than anything else she could think of - DVD's, CD's, etc. She knows it ends at midnight.Tthe hardest part has been picking a night to complete it. Her devious little mind has already figured out that it can't be a day that I work.

tabster1, your post is the one that got me to post here, so thank you. While the solution ended up not coming from here, knowing there was someone with an identical situation that I thought got resolved gave us some hope.

I'll report back if anything changes. Thanks again.
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My son is 11 1/2 and has been having sleeping problems off and on his whole life, many times taking a very long time to fall asleep, and as soon as he climbed out of the crib, would wander to our bed, having a bad marriage and going through a divorce didn't help the situation. Many times I slept in his room while married, and after the divorce he slept with me for a long time. Last year when the school year started we started with a new plan. Some times it was very rough, for a long time I had to lay in the bed below, sometimes taking hours for him to sleep. But after months it seemed to get better to the point that I didn't have to stay in his room until he fell asleep, and most times he would sleep through the night. Although he still refused to sleep over at a friends' house, because one night he had a hard time sleeping and everyone in the house fell asleep, I had to go and pick him up at 3 am. The only 2 people that he didn't have a problem sleeping with were his dad, we are divorced 3 years, and he lives in the US, we live in Spain, and my mother, in both cases he would sleep in the same bed with them.......In the summer when he went to spend it with his father, I asked him not to let him sleep in the same bed with him, but they did sleep together anyway. A few weeks ago we came back to Spain together, and I feel like I am starting all over again, this time it is worse, in that the other night he went to sleep at my mother's for the first time since coming back and had what was either an anxiety attack or temper tantrum, calling me until 2 am, I told him I wouldn't pick him up and not to call again. The next night at home he had me up until 2 again, because he saw something on t.v. that scared him. I have made an appt. for us to see a therapist for next week because I this point I feel like I am at the end of my rope. His father has agreed not to let him sleep with him anymore, as he will spend a few weeks with him over the holidays. This is the only problem that I have with my son, he obviously is dealing with separation anxiety, but I feel that there is a tremendous amount of manipulation going on. In school he does wonderfully, and he eats well, is healthy and gets along great with others. I am sure that the divorce is a factor, I can say however, that we did not argue or fight when together, and when we divorced we made a conscious decision that our son came first and we maintain a friendly relationship. He only exhibits anxiety at bedtime, I wonder if I should just go through the same thing as last year hoping that we will progress more rapidly or I need to take more drastic measures. I do worry that although he does want to sleep at a friends' that he won't go, he instead makes excuses, like I won't let him. A school trip in coming up at the end of this year and he is already worrying, and saying he will not go.
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How nice to read of other parents struggling with "older" children and bedtime. My rpoblem is a bit different in that my 7 year old son willingly goes to sleep after bath and stories. His problem is that once he awakens at night, he will NOT go back to sleep in his bed, but instead comes into ours. To compound the issue, if we send him back to his room when he comes in at night, which we do, he then MUST sleep in bed with his 5 yr. old brother. The 5yr. old HATES sleeping with big bro, as they both have twin beds:) Our son physically reacts to his fear (crying, shaking, screaming)......We allowed him to sleep in our bed since infancy, and he is having this problem, so could be from that. However, I must say that our 5 yr. old did as well and NEVER a problem for him since big boy bed at 3. My husband and I used to say to each other, "Well...it's not like he will be sleeping with us in the 1st grade!"....and here we are! Any ideas besides the gnarly holding door approach. We just will NOT do that....There has to be a kinder, gentler, more reassuring method out there.....Good luck....and please help!!!
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Wow where do I start.  My daughter is 7 and is a triplet with two brothers. We live in a Chicago suburb.  She has never been a good sleeper.  As a toddler she would be very scared coming out of naps (always short ones).  Night time was worse.  Our doctors suggested we let her cry to sleep but she would get so worked up she would vomit.  She also got a lot of ear infections and was constantly congested.  She had tubes put in and adnoids out at 3.  On top of these problems she developed sleep apnea and had tonsils out at 4.  Terrible sleep problems and would almost always end up in our bed.

After tonsils out her apnea is gone but we found out she has a mild dust allergy (we have installed dust mite protectors).  However, she has reactive airway disease which causes her immune system to overrespond to colds, allergies, even anxiety.  For example, if we get firm with her re sleeping alone she often vomits because of the buildup of phlem in her throat.

We have seen doctors and she is under the care of a therapist but nothing helps.  We no longer let her sleep with us but one parent sleeps on a mattress in her room.  She falls asleep fast but wakes up two hours later and searches the house for us.  She will go back to sleep with us in the room but then is a very light sleeper the rest of the night and wakes is we leave.

My wife and I are way beyond the end of our ropes.
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Another month gone and no problems. She has also stopped waking up in the middle of the night. We've allowed her to stay up late a few nights and there have been no problems getting her back into the routine. She has also stopped asking for "family" nights (sleeping in our bed).

LFG, I don't know your situation but for us, it was the "kinder, gentler" approach that caused the problem. Our daughter was smart enough to figure out the limits could be stretched. The door closing, I believe, gave her a finality on the limits. I think she knows that no matter what she does, she'll eventually have to sleep on her own. As I said above, if you don't physically punish your child (like many of our parents did), it is hard to force your child to stay in their room (or out of another bed). Believe me, closing the door was never in my plans but I can tell you the sickenening feeling I got from the doing that for 2-3 nights was no where near as bad as the feeling I had when we were constantly yelling at her. Our nighttime routine is now happy and positive again. It was well worth the 2-3 nights of hell.

It all comes down to figuring out a way to force someone to do what you tell them to do. For us, it was closing the door. While that may seem barbaric to some, it was far better than the constant anger.

The other positive thing from this is she recognizes that she was successful at conquering this problem. She knows that in the end, it was her that had to learn to get to sleep on her own and she succeeded.

Good Luck!
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