Avatar universal

Need help for our 7 year old daughter!

my first post... don't know if I'm doing this properly or in the right forum but I'm going to try............

We recently went on holidays. My wife slept in a room with our daughter. I slept in a different room with our 4 yr old son. At the end of the holidays our daughter saw a news clip of the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. She asked a few questions about it at the time but seemed fine.

We have been home for a week now and our daughter is a nervous wreck and can not get to sleep at night. The first few nights she was nervous there would be an earthquake here. Since those first few nights she is now nervous about sleeping alone (got used to having her Mom sleeping with her on holidays). To say “nervous” doesn’t do the situation justice, but more on that in a minute… To ease her back into her routine we have agreed for the past week to stay with her in her bed until she falls asleep… but when she wakes up at night now she starts crying hysterically about being alone.

We have taken her to a doctor to have a talk. It did nothing. We tried the ‘firm’ approach but when we do this and get ‘angry’ she cries hysterically to the point where she throws up. We’ve listened to her and tried to rationalize the situation with her but no luck. We have tried the gentle approach and things aren’t improving there either… Pretty much mid-afternoon the past few days she starts complaining of a sore belly and feeling like she needs to throw up (she’s not sick so just nerves) and it just goes on from there until bed time. Compounding this obviously is that she is now desperately over tired.

At this point the entire situation seems to have turned into a habit or routine and we don’t know how to solve the situation. She is usually the happiest little girl and never had an issue going to bed or sleeping. Trying to find a way to help her. Any suggestions much appreciated!!!! Thanks.
12 Responses
1138687 tn?1548643978
Why wouldn't you let her sleep in your room with you?
1504275 tn?1300756436
Dude!!! Don't be too hard on the girl. When I was 7 I was actually very anxious constantly. You can't rationalize with someone who has an irrational fear, no matter how old or ridiculous :) You might want to ask her if anything else has been bothering her, if she's been feeling especially sad lately, etc. Maybe ask her what it is about the earthquake that's bothering her. Maybe it's a problem where she can't stop thinking about it when she's alone trying to sleep and the only way she knows to distract herself is to have the comfort of her mom/dad. Her fear of being alone might stem from something more than just the earthquake, too. For example, I did something pretty similar, but I wasn't ever afraid of being alone so much as I was (and still am) terrified of the dark. Irrationally, I might add.  

I'm no parent, so I'm certainly not trying to tell you how to be one! I was just one anxious kid for a very, very long time.  Good luck!
Avatar universal
1. because none of the three of us would sleep well in the same bed.

2. confirms to her that there is something to whatever it is she fears and mom and dad are protecting her from that.

3. because I've heard from numerous parents who have done this with their children that they wish they never had (child grows accustomed to it and never wants back in their own bed).

4. bandaid solution, doesn't deal with the root of the problem.
Avatar universal
Hi, Im sorry about your problem with your daughter. I have major anxiety issues, but i also have other health problems as well. When i was 7 i started getting panic attacks and i was scared of the dark and would always want to sleep with my mommy and daddy. This is a very bad habit, dont let her become used to yes she gets to sleep with you everynight because then when shes my age shes gonna want to sleep with you still.
Please try some of these tips until things starts to get better:

1. First consult a child psychologist...this is always the first step with any behavioral problem in children. I saw one when i was 7.

2. Keep her busy with some activity or sport so she wont think about the fears or troubles. Keep her happy and content. For example, my parents put me in gymnastics. I was there after school atleast 3 days a week. Keep her always busy and active with some exciting sport or activity she enjoys. If she starts to get anxious reassure her everything is OK in a soothing matter and then distract her with something else so she wont dwell on the subject. (like watch a funny movie or play a funny game.)

3. Establish a good bedtime routine. Make sleeping in her room fun. Tuck her in quietly. Read her a book or tell her stories. Give her a stuffed animal and say this animal is hear to protect you. Your a parent make something up so she will believe you that she is safer in her room and her bed then in your room. Then once she is asleep. Leave the room.

4. Do this everynight. I know it might sound difficult and hard and it might take a couple of weeks for it to work, but it should work...please try it.

5. There also might be natural herbal supplements for kids to help with sleep and anxiety, of course talk to your doctor first before trying any... I knew a friend who tried melantonin in very small amounts with her son to help sleep.

Hope this helps, keep us posted on how this works for u

1348086 tn?1370783185
I do hope your daughter gets better. I sort of went through the same thing. When I was 7 it was the late 1970s and watching the news then and up on into the 1980s I was terrified of nuclear war. Anytime a jet flew over I would get nervous. I watched the movie "Day After" on tv behind my parent's backs. Of course that made things TONS worse. Just be patient. She may need some therapy. Back in those days we didn't have as much access to it as we do now. When the cold war ended, my fears switched to "do I have cancer?", "Is an asteroid going to hit earth?"
It seems it all grew up with me and I would not wish that on anyone. My daughter is 6 and I try to make everything good for her. She's afraid of tornadoes, which I have no idea why because I am such a weather nerd. I was never afraid of storms and I try to teach her to not be afraid of the storms, just be respectful.
Avatar universal
We discovered my daughters anxiety/depression issues at this same exact age. Your daughter's symptoms sound very similiar to what we experienced with our daughter when we had a death in the family. We took her to see a child psychiatrist and a therapist. She is now 9 and vastly improved. We now know what to watch and look for when it starts flaring up again. She was on prozac but we are just now changing to celexa as the prozac effects seem to be wearing off. Don't be too hard on her for her fears of which she has no control over right now. Get her seen as soon as possible.
Avatar universal
I would get a big map or globe and show your daughter where Japan is and where you live.  Then tell her how many miles it is and explain that although earthquakes happen there, they can't and won't happen where we live.  We live here so that we don't have to be around earthquakes, mommy and daddy would never let this happen.  Then I would allow her to have a bed on the floor in your room until this memory fades, while not allowing her to see the news.  With some time she will feel safe again, and will return to her room.  The more you make of this, the worse it will get.  She needs comforting now (NO DRUGS) and if being in the same room with you and your wife helps her to cope, it won't be the end of the world.  I would definitel;y talk to her about it though, very casually. Just casually say things like "I'm happy we don't live in Japan."  Talking about it and letting her hear that you know how scary this can be and how happy you are to not live there, but here where earthquakes don't happen, will get you on the same level.  I think a lot of problems with kids escalate when they are scared and not allowed to have what is needed to help them cope with their fear.  She's only 7, allowing her to sleep in your room for a short time will be a big step in her feeling better and safe again.  If it doesn't, then it's time for for professional intervention, but right now she needs comfort from mommy and daddy more than anything. Good luck, I know this is a difficult situation.  I raised 3 wonderful, emotionally healthy children and I never let them "cry it out" and if they needed comfort in our bed at night, it was allowed.  They depend on us more than anything or anyone to make them feel safe, and if we don't do it......it only increases their fear. Best wishes.
1448936 tn?1363206346
I was an anxious child and hated to sleep in bed alone. I was also an only child with a father in the military who was gone for extended periods of time a lot which added to my anxiety. My mom would sometimes allow me to sleep in bed with her but what really helped me as a child was my mom coming and checking on me every 10min. Eventually I would fall asleep but not be so scared because mom was coming to check in on me. Clearly she wouldn't once she was asleep but at age 5-10 I didn't know that. It really did help. Also I agree with other posters about a child psychlogist. I started seeing one when I was 5.

I'm 25 now and still have anxiety and still see therapists but I'm grateful that my parents didn't feed into my fears and allow me to sleep with them every night. You're doing the right thing and eventually she'll come to realize that she's safe even if mom and dad are in the other room.
Avatar universal
Thank you all for taking the time to comment!

After a week of crying and throwing up and anxiety and sleeping with her at night etc... we decided to make her sleep on her own to try and get things back to Normal.

The first night was tough.  She woke up at 1 a.m. and didn't get back to sleep until 4 a.m.  Those three hrs were brutal.... crying, throwing up, begging etc. not fun...  We insisted through out that she was going to sleep on her own (with door open, closet light on, our bedroom right across the hall with our door open too...).  She would follow us out of the room when we left and we would bring her back in.  Eventually after three hrs she gave up, probably out of exhaustion and fell asleep.  That was a key step for her as she learned she could do that by herself after a week of insisting that she couldn't.

Now the good news....  The next night she woke up once, cried only briefly when we put her back to bed... then last night she woke up once in the night and no crying at all when put back to bed.

Anyway, not everyone agreed with the method but bottom line is our daughter is sleeping well again and almost over this situation (knock on wood).... and HAPPY again!!  I'm writing now as I've learned that this isn't all that uncommon for young children to go though and wanted to let the next family going through this know how it worked out in our case.  Of course every situation is different, and please remember your child is not doing this on purpose!  Our daughter was genuinely scared, shaking at times, but getting through that first night was the key to her getting over it!

Anyway, tks again.....
Avatar universal
I agree with you that it is not normal for a seven year old to sleep in her parent's bed. i am a psychology student, and it is irrational that anyone would even ask why you wouldn't allow that...First, she is seven years old, far too old to be sleeping with mom and dad. She is old enough to realize that mom and dad deserve their own bed and privacy, and she has hers. it seems like she is extremely anxious following a traumatic experience...the tsunami footage on TV. It may be helpful to take her to a therapist to talk over this matter with her and to help her understand that natural disasters are very rare and no one can protect you from them. However, this is not a reason to live in fear, as the chances of you dying in a car crash are far greater than a natural disaster. However, allow the therapist to explain this in a way a 7 year old can understand, because you certainly do not want her becoming afraid to ride in the car. Being that she has had no prior seperation anxiety or any other form of anxiety in the past, it does seem highly likely that this exposure is what has triggered her fear. It is more than likely stress and anxiety that will soon pass and should not become a future issue. Basically, she just needs some help coping for now.
Avatar universal
I realize this is an old post but wanted to state my opinion for futures readers. This child has abviously been thru a traumatic experience, whether it was the news article or something else. I feel the battling back and forth as to where she felt the very strong need to sleep with her parents was tramatic in itself, regardless if the end result was her sleeping on her own. That doesn't mean she is all okay. She's just a little girl and adding to her insecurities does more harm than good. In my opinion the MOST important thing to do in a situation like this is to take your child to a Child Psychologist. I would comfort my child at night until the dr appt day and see what the dr says. In my opinion a 7 yr old is not going to want to permanently sleep with their parents forever, especially under the support of a specialist. Let the child see a specialist that deals with situations like this and there will be a point where the child will go to bed by themselves.
Avatar universal
I'm sorry, my comment was suppose to go to All.
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Anxiety Community

Top Anxiety Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
370181 tn?1595629445
Arlington, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out what can trigger a panic attack – and what to do if you have one.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Take control of tension today.
These simple pick-me-ups squash stress.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?