i am concerned about the behaviour of my 8year old daughter. since new years day 2013 she has become a nightmare at bedtime. she used to play up at bedtimes prior to this up until i started a new relationship november 1st 2011. she would refuse to go sleep and kick off everytime i put her back in bed. as i had split from her father in july 2010 and was coping with her and my son alone i got so exhausted i wouldn't feel her climbing in bed with me so was therefore unable to put her back in her own at times. when i got with my new partner however i started being stricter at bedtime and within a couple of weeks she and my son both slept through the night in their own beds. the routine being they would go to bed, watch a dvd each then switch it off and go sleep. she was happy with this and much more alert the following day after a good nights sleep. my new partner and children get on brilliantly and they started seeing their father on a regular basis. for the last year the routine has continued with no problem but all of a sudden she no longer wishes to go to bed quietly. after the 1st day of misbehaviour at bedtime i would give her a warning of 'if you get out of bed other then to use the toilet you lose your dvd for the night' it had no effect and although receiving the warning and knowing the repercussions she would kick off that her dvd rights had been taken away. stamping her feet screaming at the top of her lungs. if she got out of bed i would put her back and warn she would lose a toy each time she kicked off. the threats worked in no way at all. she lost the majority of her toys the second night. every night thereafter she was put to bed as usual with the warning about her dvd and told for every hour she stayed in bed she could earn a toy back. this didnt work and she again was kicking off screaming, stamping her feet, telling me she wasnt going to sleep she was scared. i asked what she was scared about but would get no response just more crying. after a few days it turned into her wanting to sleep with me and her screaming when i left the room and following me so the following morning after she had fell sleep at 1am!!!!!!! i sat and had a talk with her. i asked her what she was scared of. why her behaviour had changed so drastically and what was making her so upset. she told me she was scared of having a bad dream. that she had dreamt she would stop breathing in her sleep and that she was kidnapped. i soothed her and assured her this wasnt going to happen. she also explained she had fallen out with a friend at school but that they were speaking again. she said that she wasnt getting any attention at her dads now that him and his new partner had had a baby but after talking to him and my son who is 5 they both assured me she did get attention and would often offer to help play with the baby. i remedied the bad dream situation with the dreamcatcher i have in my bedroom. i hung it above her bed and although she did get out of bed a few times we had no kicking off and she was asleep by 9pm. the next morning she was bright eyed and said the dreamcatcher had worked she hadnt had any bad dreams. i sighed a sigh of relief and the next 2 nights she was an absolute angel and i was able to get a decent couple of nights sleep myself. she had been exhausted and bags had appeared under her eyes but she seemed back to her usual self. until tonight!! she had her usual warning yet still got out of bed several times resulting in her losing her dvd. she screamed that she was having a dvd whether i liked it or not and refused to get in bed. it then resorted to tears and screams of being scared. i returned her to bed several times only for her to jump out of bed when i left the room. i will admit with the screaming and shouting and her waking her sleeping brother i lost my cool and shouted at her but rather then it scaring her it resulted in her kicking me and throwing things around their room. after i calmed down i returned to her room to talk to her. this time she told me she doesnt want to go to school anymore. she doesnt like it as much as her old 1 (we moved to a new house and they started new school in april 2011 with no problems prior to this. if anything she had told me several times she likes this school better. she made friends easily and got a glowing school report) i managed to coax out of her that she is finding her work hard (she is in the top groups for her subjects) and that her friend would usually help her but had stopped. she said she wanted to be clever but couldnt do the work. i told her that being clever wasnt the main thing the main thing was that she felt comfortable with the work she was doing and asked her if she would like me to talk to her teacher and see if we cant get her moved down a group to see if the work in that group would be better. she agreed and we left it on the agreement that i would come and speak to her teacher and we would make it all better for her. i assured her that she could come to me with any problems and that she could go and tell her teacher at anytime if she felt she was struggling. she seemed ok and smiled for the 1st time tonight. after being in bed for all of 10minutes she was back downstairs refusing to go bed or sleep and despite looking exhausted denied she was tired. she again woke her brother and when i returned her to bed she screamed i was a rubbish mummy which really upset me. i have spent most of tonight in tears. i have never had anger like this from her. i know that there have been alot of changes in her life the last year but she has been such a happy girl with no issues that she has shown up until now. i am at my wits end and do not know what to do. i am speaking to her teacher tomorrow and am booking her into the drs but i can not understand what is wrong? she is only like this at bedtime. in the mornings and when she gets in from school i have my gorgeous happy girl. could she have depression at such a young age?
Wow, that is certainly a LOT of change in her life in the last 2½ years. I am also 28 years old and have an 8 year old child--and we have been through our own battles in the last two years as well that have put our family through quite a few upheavals. However, none of our upheavals were in our immediate home and family, which I think could be a big role in your daughter's issues. She's dealing with it from both sides, too--in your home and with her father.
Kids are resilient little people and usually adapt pretty well to their environments after a decent adjustment period, but some kids take longer than others and some kids have a delayed reaction. It sounds like she's kind of having a delayed reaction and it's manifesting most at bedtime because that's when she really has the time for reflection. Throughout the daytime, she's interacting and engaged in activities and can't put a lot of thought into how she subconsciously may feel about a lot of things going on. When she finally does have this "down time," it could be overwhelming her with anxiety but she is at an age where finding a way to verbally and understandably express it is not quite at her developmental capacity or maturity yet. I know it can be that way for my son with some issues, especially with homework anxiety and some friendships he is trying to make (he also just transferred to a new school because we moved to a new home). They are just not at an age where expression of their feelings comes out comprehensibly quite yet; not to them or to us.
I don't really have much advice or suggestions to offer, as this isn't quite my area of experiences (bedtimes), but I will suggest that maybe you ask to consult with a child psychologist (either through her pediatrician's referral or through her school) that is familiar with how to address childhood anxiety. I really think she just has a lot on her mind and it's overwhelming to her once she's forced into a reflecting down time before sleep. I know a lot of anxiety issues I have can cause me to have nightmares as well. This is where speaking with a therapist about childhood anxiety can aide you in helping her cope with peacefully getting to sleep and learning how to communicate her anxieties in a productive way to you so you can help her out.
I also identify this as too many existential changes in the last couple of years. The new baby in her father's family (and believe me, her helping with the baby does not count as *her* getting attention), your new boyfriend being around, the move to a new house, the new school, the course work being challenging, and the loss of a friend's support. That is a lot for age 8. (I'll add, handy as it is, screen time right before bed is shown by research to be a bad idea. I'd tell the kids they each get x number of books before bed. But not a DVD. All they do is charge kids up.) It doesn't help for you to be getting your feelings hurt at being called a rubbish mom, by now you should be able to recognize that as a desperation lob.
Talk to a children's counselor and go over what has been happening, and get some advice. Take an active interest in what she is telling you about what is going on at school, not just about friends but ask her questions about the average day, what kind of kids are around, what is available for sports, and stuff like that. Try to bring her around to the school idea with just a little cheerful gossip and interest in her opinions. It can do a lot. And ask her father if he can drum up a little one-on-one time for her. Dads can do a world of good for their daughters as the girls begin to come into their maturity, and 8 is a good place to start.
I think it's a little remarkable that this girl is doing as well as she is, kelm. That's a LOT of changes for her, and it's remarkable that she gets up in the morning raring to go to an academically challenging day at school, and is maintaining good friendships.
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