For the last 2 weeks our 10 yr old daughter has refused to go to sleep at night. She has always had problems sleeping as a younger child, yes she did sleep with me when she was very small but has been in her own bed since she was 3. Even then, if she woke up in the night she would refuse to go back to sleep unless i sat with her, having to creep out of the room once she went back to bed. As she has got older she has become more and more anxious at bedtimes and has slept with the tv on for some time now. She insists that she needs background noise to help her sleep so that if she does wake up in the night she doesn't feel disorientated. Believe me we have tried to stop this habit but so far we have had no luck.
Two weeks ago, she agreed to try and sleep without the tv on. She only managed 5 minutes before she was out again and crying that she couldn't sleep so we put it back. Now though she won't go to bed at all. She is an anxious child anyway and is always worrying about everything but she is winding herself up throughout the day so come bedtime she is a wreck! For the last 5 nights we have been up until 3am trying to convince her to go to bed, and if she can't get to sleep then to just watch her tv until she does fall asleep. Yes, regretably we have had the shouting matches etc and in the end last night i stayed out in the living room with her just so my husband could get a few hours sleep before going to work. She slept most of the night and we had no tears at all. Guess what, now she wants to do that every night!
I know we have 2 problems on our hand, the sleeping and the tv, to be honest the sleeping is the problem we need to sort out first. 5 nights with no sleep is taking its toil on my health as i suffer from Rhuematoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia so i am now in a viscious circle where my symptoms have gone into overload making me even less able to deal with the screaming and crying. Our family is falling apart.
Unwittingly you have established some patterns with your daughter that are now problems. It will be important to do three things. First, you have to change your behavior in a couple of ways. Having a television in a child's room is a formula for trouble. Take the television out of her room and be firm about it. Second, you have to stop accommodating her requests that you be with her. The goal is for her to be in her bed and fall asleep on her own. Third, to address some of the anxiety, you should arrange an appointment with a child psychiatrist to consider pharmacological treatment. Your daughter will change to the degree that you can change.
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