100 lb. Club - need help from parents-sleep issues with my son




suzie76
02-14-2008, 11:33 AM
My eight year old son Matthew has been having trouble getting to sleep and staying in his own bed lately. My husband works nights, and the nights he is off, Matthew goes to bed and stays there-no problem whatsoever!. The other nights of the week when it's just me is another story. He begs for a later bedtime, and to sleep with me. He keeps coming into my room and waking me up (and I have trouble falling asleep in the first place, so this is a problem for me-it can take me an hour to fall back to sleep.) I tuck him in every night, rub his back, talk to him about his day, put on a Beatles cd, and sing to him . He knows I'm right down the hall, I leave the hall light on, etc. He's not having any problems at school or anything. He is still upset over our cat's death last fall, though We have adopted two cats, whom he loves dearly. I'm sorry to ramble, but again, I did not sleep well last night! When he comes into my room after tucking him in, I give him a hug, tell him I love him and I'll see him in the morning and send him back to his bed. (unless of course he's sick). I don't know what else to do.

If he is really upset about something, I will let him stay with me, but that is difficult as well. He is SUCH a fidgety sleeper, and kicks me continually (while he's asleep). so I don't get much sleep then, either....

I posted about this on another message board where I'm a member, and received responses ranging from "lock your door" "get tough with him" "take away privileges if he gets out of bed." "why don't you serve him snacks in bed if he's upset and stay home from school (sarcastic ). I'm regretting posting the question there. I don't think I should punish him for having trouble sleeping!

Thanks,
Sherry

Please-any advice!
Thanks,
Sherry


souvenirdarling
02-14-2008, 11:39 AM
Honestly, sleep really is about being disciplined. Even for those of us who are adults who have trouble sleeping, we have to make sure to not do things in bed but sleep, focus on specific thoughts/non-thoughts, meditate or have tea before bed, etc. We must work similarly with children, no?

The fact he does it when it's only you implies this is a behavioral issue between the two of you. I'm inclined to suggest that you be firmer, and that once he's in his room, he should stay there (maybe read later, but not come out?). Maybe if you set up a specific evening routine to follow, or are more active with him in the evening, he'll sleep easier?

PhotoChick
02-14-2008, 11:49 AM
The fact he does it when it's only you implies this is a behavioral issue between the two of you. I'm inclined to suggest that you be firmer, and that once he's in his room, he should stay there (maybe read later, but not come out?).
I'm inclined to agree with this. If he stays in bed just fine when your husband is home, then he's not having sleep issues. You're having discipline issues.

I realize that may be what you're hearing on the other board and maybe dont' want to hear, but given the info we have, I'd say you need to take it into account.

I'd say you need to set limits with him. If he wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to read quietly or whatever, then he can, but he is not allowed to come wake you up unless he is ill or there's an emergency. 8 years old is plenty old enough to understand that concept.

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suzie76
02-14-2008, 11:51 AM
Thank you for your kind and supportive responses. I think letting him read quietly in his room is a great idea! I will try that.

Thank you,
Sherry

foucault
02-14-2008, 11:54 AM
I'm not a mom, but I have experience with this sort of situation. I was the kid who wanted to sleep with her mom. This was years and years and years ago, but I remember being very stubborn about it. I would refuse to sleep in my own bed. I would act terribly dramatic about being alone. I would beg and cry and plead to sleep in my parents' bed instead of my own. I could see the foot of their bed from my door and I would still cry and beg to sleep with them. I don't know why I did this. I wasn't afraid or upset.

If your son isn't have any other behavioral or school-related problems, then I'd say that you won't be hurting him by being more firm. When I was eight, my grandmother bought me a new daybed. I was told that I could only have the bed if I slept in it. No questions asked, no exceptions. I could not ask to sleep with my parents or the bed would be taken away. And you know what? I slept in that bed, and I never asked to sleep with my parents again. It never even crossed my mind. I'm not saying you need to go out and buy him a new bed (expensive!), but I guess what I'm trying to say is that this isn't something that will be hard for him to get over if you are firm enough about it.

mezmerize
02-14-2008, 11:57 AM
My sister gave her kid one get out of bed coupon. She could use it for water no treats or that extra hug or kiss. Then off to bed and not out til morning. At 1st she cried but then new this was a rule. (unless sick) They designed the coupon together. It turned out to be a comfort for both my sister and her daughter. For my sister she knew that after the coupon was used then she could truely sleep. My niece grew confident in knowing she could. "hold out"

srmb60
02-14-2008, 11:59 AM
If my children thought they must be with me, they had to bring their pillow and a blanket and sleep on the floor beside me.

I asked DS#1 (26) just now and he remembers doing it but probably not more than twice. The other kids were about the same.

veracitarella
02-14-2008, 12:04 PM
love the coupon idea!

i suggest you try to be a little tougher with him. otherwise, the pattern of sleeping on his own won't set in.

it's so hard - it WILL get better, hang in there.

check out the ferber book on sleep training.

barbygirl43
02-14-2008, 12:28 PM
I love the coupon idea that is awesome. I have problems with them not staying in bed at times but they rarely just come to my room. Lilly and William will ask occassionally to sleep with me and I usually tell them they will have to wait a day (unless it's been a rough day or one of them is sick) so it let's them know they can do it every once in a while but not all the time.

PhotoChick
02-14-2008, 01:05 PM
The coupon idea is inspired. I like that!

.

missy3gal
02-14-2008, 10:10 PM
Mine have all tried that. Determine what is rewarding to him and set up a system whereby he sees positive consequences to his staying in bed.
5 nights that he stays in bed after you tuck him in, he gets to ____ (whatever is rewarding to him-go for a sundae alone with dad, go to a movie, eat at McDonalds, go fishing with a relative).
Next time aroud it's 10 nights in a row followed by a different reward. Then 15, then 25 then 35. At that point he will be in the habit of not getting out of bed and you can drop the rewards and he probably won't notice.
Make a chart and put it on the fridge. It works as long as the reward is something that they normally don't get to do or have.

Rhighlan86
02-15-2008, 01:59 AM
Just throwing this out there...has something happened that would make him scared? Has he watched a horror movie or did something else happen? When I was 7 or so our house was broken in to and to this day when it's just my mom and I, I do not feel as safe as when my dad is there. Same thing now, I am in an apartment by myself b/c my bf got a job in another state and I have a hard time sleeping most nights. So this may be a possibility. As with horror movies, I am almost 22 and if I watch one I do not sleep at all unless my bf or my dad are there. It's weird but I sleep even better when my older brother and my dad are both home. It's a safety issue. I feel safe and sound knowing everyone is in there bed and if something happens I don't have to worry.

Another possibility was there a car wreck or something happen at your DH's job that maybe he overheard and he's worried about dad coming home? These are all just ideas, but there's some reason that he's doing it. I just brought this up because if it was an issue of behavioral things or something like that I would think that he would still ask when you husband is home, however he sleeps great when he's there.

Personally, I do not like the idea of locking the door. This is just my opinion and I hope I don't offend anyone, but when you are there by yourself and you lock your door and he tries to come in what kind of message is that to him? I honestly feel like there is something else going on and I would say maybe sit down and see if theres anything bothering him.

Hope this helps

PhotoChick
02-15-2008, 02:05 AM
These are all just ideas, but there's some reason that he's doing it. I just brought this up because if it was an issue of behavioral things or something like that I would think that he would still ask when you husband is home,
Seriously with ALL respect and not meaning any insult or anything like that ... at 22 and with no kids, I have to say that you're way off base.

Kids know that they can relate to different poeple different ways. They know that each parent is different. Especially at 8. The fact that the kid doesn't do it when his dad is home is ... well ... normal.

The reason that he's doing it (IMO, and based on the information supplied) is becuase he knows he can. If dad were home, he couldn't get away with it, so he doesn't. But he knows mom is a big softie and will be nice about it ... so he does.

.

tamaralynn
02-15-2008, 08:14 AM
What does dad do for a living? Does he have a job where a 8 year old think he might be in danger? He could just be worried about dad when he's away. Has he told you any specific reasons why he wants to sleep with you when dad is away?

You say that your beloved pet passed away last year - an 8 year old can have very vivid imaginations, and death - though it's a natuaral part of life - can be a new and horrifying experience to them - whether it's a pet or person.

I would sit him down and have him explain why exactly it is that he feels he needs the security of sleeping with you at night time :)

Rhighlan86
02-15-2008, 08:24 AM
I just brought it up because that is the reason I slept with my mom when my dad was gone. I'm just basing my advice off of what i have learned from 4 years of child developmental psychology and personal experience. It was only ideas and I just thought I would throw it out there because it's a possibility. No offense to anyone.

Sandi
02-15-2008, 08:56 AM
I think the coupon idea is pretty good. I also like the idea of if he feels he has to sleep with you, he has to be on the floor - that certainly doesn't sound appealing.

Sherry - what's his activity level? Is there any chance that when Dad's home they are wrestling and being silly and using more energy, so he's more tired? And do you have the same bedtime routine when Dad's home as when Dad's not? Maybe he gets too much attention at bedtime when Dad's not home.

It's hard for me because Jake has always been such a good sleeper.

midwife
02-15-2008, 09:23 AM
I think the coupon idea is pretty good. I also like the idea of if he feels he has to sleep with you, he has to be on the floor - that certainly doesn't sound appealing.

Sherry - what's his activity level? Is there any chance that when Dad's home they are wrestling and being silly and using more energy, so he's more tired? And do you have the same bedtime routine when Dad's home as when Dad's not? Maybe he gets too much attention at bedtime when Dad's not home.

It's hard for me because Jake has always been such a good sleeper.

I agree with Sandi (and the others who gave out some of these thoughts).

I think the suggestion to lock the door is hideous. :?: He needs to know he can come to you if he is scared. I bet he is nervous when your husband is gone. This is just a phase. Be patient and creative and know it is normal and I promise he won't be sleeping in your room when he is in high school.

I swear.

Tonia
02-15-2008, 09:24 AM
I have four children - 17 to 9 - and I tend to agree with Becky. The first thing I thought as I was reading your post is that when dad is gone at night your little guy does not feel as safe and sleeping with you would be a safety thing for him.

My daughter went through that and we tried a few things:
1. Making her sleep in her bed ~ didn't really work as she was not sleeping well and was REALLY cranky the next day.
2. Letting her sleep with me ~ didn't work 'cause then I wasn't sleeping well and was REALLY cranky the next day!
3. Making her a bed on the floor next to me. We would fall asleep holding hands and she felt safe. I simply explained to her that I understand she didn't want to sleep in her bed but that I didn't sleep well when she was in my bed so if she really, really wanted to sleep in my room she would have to sleep on the floor next to me. This actually worked well for us - she wasn't really comfortable but she slept much better and I slept much better. Because she really wasn't comfortable she soon moved back into her own bed and now sleeps great! But, I let her make the decision as to when that was going to happen with her.

Of course, you know your son best and he could totally be taking advantage of the fact that dad is gone and he is working mom...in that case you have a whole different problem. :dizzy: This is simply my experience with the problem.

Best of luck to you!

AutumnHarvest
02-15-2008, 09:30 AM
Right after my parents divorced when I was a child, my mom instituted the "sleep on the floor" and "no talking" rule. It wasn't comfortable, but I did it, because I felt safer on her floor than in my bed.

If you tell him that he can sleep and only sleep on the floor, and he still consistently chooses to sleep in the room with you, you can be pretty sure that he is feeling insecure in some way that is causing him to need to be close to you. If that is the case, you might be able to talk to him and find something that will comfort him on nights when his father is away.

suzie76
02-15-2008, 10:23 AM
Hi,

Thank you all so much for your caring advice. I really appreciate it!

I spoke with my sister yesterday, and she gave me some ideas. My niece was similar-she's a night owl and just cannot fall asleep early. We figured out that (like Sandi said) he still has energy to burn off and is probably not physically ready to fall asleep. It's hard this time of year because it's too cold to play outside and gets dark early. I injured my neck and shoulder in a car accident a few weeks ago, and can't play basketball or kick around a ball with him. The neighbors kids are all inside. When the weather is nice and he can run around for hours he hardly ever has trouble falling asleep.

He burned off some energy running around in the finished basement. I made his bedtime a little later, on the condition that he was showered and had his teeth brushed a half hour BEFORE bedtime. After his shower, no tv, video games or computer. He could read or draw. He drew for a half hour and I tucked him in. I heard him get up once to close his bedroom door, and he did not come in my room at all-hallelujah.

As far as the nights my husband is home (friday, saturday, sunday) Matthew does stay up later on Friday/Saturday, so that is very likely why he goes right to sleep without a problem.

As are as the suggestions I received on another board-I would never lock him out. I think that's terrible.

My husband is a copy editor for a newspaper. He is not in any danger at his job.

Thanks again!
Sherry

Lyn2007
02-15-2008, 11:42 AM
I think the sleeping on the floor idea is a good option.

I have five kids. For me, what worked was setting up their room as a safe/comfort zone. I made sure they had a soft blankie, lots of pillows, stuffed animals and a lamp they could turn on from their bed. I put a stack of books in there and told them if they couldn't sleep they could turn on their little lamp, cozy up in their bed, and look at books until they were tired. I set a water bottle on their nightstand too. You said you play a CD for him so that's good too... have a few CD's he likes in there, and he can turn them on whenever he can't sleep.

If he still comes out, I agree with telling him he can lie down quietly with his blanket and pillows on the floor by your bed but tell him not to wake you. Tell him you need your sleep too. That will teach him to consider your needs, and if he is scared or insecure he is still able to sneak in and be near you. (of course tell him to wake you if he is sick or very scared or something is wrong).

Hope you start getting some sleep soon!

Jen
02-15-2008, 01:36 PM
My son is now 6 and had some sleep issues when he was younger. I tended to want to stay with him and wanted him to fall asleep before I left the room, whereas my husband would say go through the set bed time ritual and leave the room immediately. Turned out my husband was right because I was spending 45 minutes to an hour before he'd fall asleep. Now we have a pretty set bedtime routine and we stick to it like glue so he is pretty good with falling asleep and staying asleep and staying in his own bed. At one time he was getting up and wanting to come in our bed but we wouldn't let him, if he was scared because of a bad dream I would go back with him to his room and lay down with him until he fell asleep or was calmer. Right now I am the one who works nights and my husband will let him get into our bed when I am not there but if he comes into our room I make him go back to his own bed and I will go with him like I already described. It sounds to me like he knows what he can get away with and with who so he is taking advantage of that. It ought to be the same rules regardless of who is home and when. Bedtime should be the same time (or close to) all the time and he should stay in his bed regardless of whether your husband is home or not especially as it is affecting your own sleep. Have you tried explaining this to him, I mean that you are losing sleep because of him coming into your room? We did this with our son when he was getting up at 6 or 6:30 when we don't get up until 7 that losing that bit of sleep was making us grumpy and that he couldn't come in our room until he heard our alarm go off, if he woke up he was to stay in his bed or he could play quietly in his room. This really worked well for us as he now won't come and wake us up if he happens to wake up early.