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8 year old won't sleep alone

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

My son is 8. He doesn't like to sleep. He falls asleep a million times faster if I snuggle him until he drifts off. I have left him several times to fall asleep on his own and he was still awake at 2am (I was on the computer doing my taxes and I could hear him and knew he hadn't fallen asleep yet). If he wakes up early (7am) and has an action packed day, he will fall asleep alone occassionally before midnight. But this is rare and has only happened 4 times.

 

After I snuggle him to sleep I usually return to my bed or go to my other son's bed (he's 5). My 8 year old will wake us up with calling us usually 5 times a night. My husband has had it. He told him last night that he is not to call for us. If he has to go to the bathrooom to get up and go alone (we have many nightlights to help with that) and that we weren't going to sleep with him or he with us. So...he called for me. My husband said we weren't coming. He eventually came into our room. Husband said "Go back to bed. You can't come in our bed." He went back to bed and cried. Husband went into his room twice to talk to him. He was still whimpering an hour later. Then sobbing. I eventually went in and slept with him, even though DH said we wouldn't.

 

Now, to be fair, DH made this decision on his own without talking to me or coming up with a plan. He informed my son just before bed that this is what was happening. We are just tired and sick of getting up 5-6 times a night with an 8 year old! And he squirms so much in his sleep that DH cannot sleep decently when he is in our bed. So, sleep deprived for 8 years, I can see why DH snapped.

 

Anyways, after I fell asleep with my son, DH came in and said to me, "By coming in here and sleeping with him you have just completely undermined my authority and undermined his confidence in himself. You are reinforcing that he is not brave, cannot face his fears, and can't do things on his own. You just totally undermined his confidence."

Huh? I was simply responding to my son's cries the way I thought best.

 

So now, I can tell there will be this big discussion, disagreement, possibly fight with DH who feels the need to pick apart everything I do anyways.

 

I don't know what to do about my son. I don't know what to do about my husband. I feel like telling him that if he were crying for some physical touch I wouldn't scold him and tell him to suck it up. So I could really use some advice on both levels. DS has never liked to be alone and never liked to sleep. To him, it is a necessary evil. And I have always LOVED sleep, so I don't get him. lol.

post #2 of 17
I don't think you undermined him. He was acting impulsively and out of frustration and ime that isn't a place where long term effective plans come from. I think his realization that something is off and needs to change is accurate but his sudden change approach isn't a healthy place to start. The needing to snuggle to sleep almost every night is not the norm for his age but not unheard of. Waking several times a night still is very unusual for this age though and I think you need to consult with a pediatrician for this.
I really like the boom Sleepless in America for sleep research (informal) and the advice it gives. It helped me and my dd when I hit a frustration wall with her night waking several years ago. It eased my worries and gave me some gentle ideas for helping d
d sleep independently
post #3 of 17

I agree this was not a thing to be unilaterally decided and sprung upon you (and your son) just before bedtime, out of nowhere. 

 

Having said that, I *do* think that a converstation between the three of you is in order, where you lay out that he can't continue to come to your room every night, and his body desperately needs more sleep to function properly, and he is old enough to take on some nighttime responsibilities on his own.  I don't think your husband's idea is a bad one, I just think it wasn't executed well at all. 

 

Truth be told, our son would still sleep with us every night if we let him, and he's 8.  Despite that unspoken but understood preference, he does nonetheless go to sleep in his own room and falls asleep within an hour of laying down, with books and stuffed animal friends, with no fighting. He goes to the bathroom as needed, and if he wandersinto our room we say, "nope, head on back your way" 99% of the time (every couple weeks we throw him a bone and let him climb in lol.gif).  If he needs comfort, we'll give it to him, but then leave again, we don't lay down with him anymore. 

 

Ask your son if he has any ideas of his own, aside from sleeping with you, that might give him comfort and security at night.  You might be surprised what he comes up with.   I think even ust validating and empathizing that you know he'd love to keep sleeping with you and you get it's a bummer he can't do it every night anymore, will help.  Maybe your husband can agree on a "weaning schedule", or a rotation that like on weknights he stays in his own bed all night, and on weekends you go sleep with him part of the night, or he can come to you for part of the night.  Compromises are in order, here, not cold turkey.

 

I think you can totally tell your son that last night was a wacky night with the mixed messages from your husband and you, and that you realize you all need a common decision together, and that's not going to undermine anything or have any lasting negative effects, so long as once you do pick something you try to stick with it and work it through all together.  Everyone makes mistakes and is human.

post #4 of 17

Does he tend to be an anxious child? I just ask because that it totally would be my 9 year old would do, stay up until 2am because I wouldn't complete our night time routine. I laid with her to go to sleep for a very long time. Her actual age is fuzzy in my mind, but she was staying up waiting for me to go to bed with her when she was 8, I remember that much. She slept in my room until just this year and now is sleeping in her own room with her sister. We had to create this whole elaborate bedtime routine in order to get her to go to bed without me, I would check on her in 5 minutes, and then gradually 10, and then 20, 30. DD1 struggles with some anxiety issues, during the day she actually functioned ok, no one else would guess but at night, oh boy, it was like a light was switched and she was a different child. 

post #5 of 17

Peony:  SO TRUE.   Our 8-yo kiddo has anxiety and perfectionism, and this is just one more manifestation.  Good call.

post #6 of 17

Have you taken him to a doctor? A 8 y/o should be able to fall asleep by himself and not wake up 5-6 times a night.
 

post #7 of 17

bass chick - this is what you can tell your dh.

 

i was your son. 

 

my mother tells me my 'imagination' hit rocket high at that age by all the questions i was asking. nightime was freakout time for me. every shadow had its story and those stories during the day were nice ones - at night they were scary ones. i was FRIGHTENING my ownself to death. 

 

same situation. my dad did not want me in bed with them. my mom was ok. 

 

thankfully my parents figured out to put my younger brother and me in the same bed. we would creep in and sleep with them quietly and in the morning they'd wake up and find us in bed.

 

i think we wore our father out. but we did this off and on for the next two years. 

 

after that it helped having my brother in bed with me.

 

i so remember trying to sleep with my brother at night and not go to my parents room. i'd be up petrified and i wouldnt sleep till exhaustion hit me which was after i heard the first crow call. so early morning. 

 

my dd almost 10 is still in bed with me. 

 

she also has anxiety and perfection issues. for us cosleeping is like therapy for her. i know this is not going to go on forever. but instead of paying for therapy i sleep with dd.

 

btw - most of dd's 4th grade class was once in a while going and sleeping with their parents for an odd night here or there. 

 

so really its pretty common for 8, 9 and even 10 year olds to go sleep with their parents or siblings in close proximity (meaning same bed, not separate beds).

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post

I agree this was not a thing to be unilaterally decided and sprung upon you (and your son) just before bedtime, out of nowhere. 

 

 

Yeah, if you had discussed this in advance, then perhaps you would be undermining, but this was out-of-the-blue and he expected you to back him up without consultation.

 

DH used to say stuff like that, without asking me if he had my support first.  I finally put my foot down when he threatened early bedtime.  Sorry, dear, I love you, but I'm the one who puts the girls to bed, lies with them to get them to snuggle and fall asleep.  Sorry, but that punishment was off the table without my consent.

 

I would not balk at the suggestion to consult a doctor, but that a 8yo "should" be able to fall asleep on his own, I just can't agree with that across the board.

 

Like others have suggested, time for a talk, both about the issues concerning your son, and about protocol for making parental decisions.  (Like, "no making snap parental decisions in the middle of the night that involve both parents.")

 

My 7.5yo sleeps with me still.  So does my 5.5yo.  If dd1 thought that after she feel asleep, I would curl up with dd2 or dh and leave *her* alone, she'd feel left out and lonely.  She can be somewhat of a a physically rough sleeper, but she can't help that.  You just can't change that part of yourself and if she felt like she was to sleep alone because of that, she'd be beside herself.  Some kids just aren't ready to be alone and I think that's OK to treat it like it's normal (much easier when you are not sleep deprived, I am sure.)   

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

my dd almost 10 is still in bed with me. 

 

she also has anxiety and perfection issues. for us cosleeping is like therapy for her. i know this is not going to go on forever. but instead of paying for therapy i sleep with dd.

 

btw - most of dd's 4th grade class was once in a while going and sleeping with their parents for an odd night here or there. 

 

so really its pretty common for 8, 9 and even 10 year olds to go sleep with their parents or siblings in close proximity (meaning same bed, not separate beds).

Therapy for all of us, in my house.  We can have an incredibly stressful day or week and sleeping together really eases this so well.

 

My niece slept in her mother's room until she was 12.  At first it was because she was tiny, then because there was no other bedroom left for her (4th child) and then because she just didn't feel comfortable sleeping anywhere else.  Family divorce, stresses-- my sister made no big deal out of where her daughter slept and avoided yet one more issue she and her daughter had to contend with. 

post #10 of 17

My 10 yo (almost 11) needs to snuggle to fall asleep. If he woke up alone during the night, he'd be freaked out. There are many many adults who prefer not to sleep alone, as well. Night time is a great time to reconnect. We can't go to bed mad at each other because ds needs to snuggle. It's very sweet.

 

I have many brothers, the older ones needed company to fall asleep until they hit puberty. My mom theorizes that the changes in hormones made them less easily frightened. One of them needed company for the summer before he started a new school. After the first day, he was fine going to sleep on his own again. My mom didn't realize he was anxious about the new school but it was obvious retrospectively. He was the oldest and needed more night time parenting. The younger kids can use their siblings as a source of support and comfort in a way that the oldest can't since they are younger than he.

post #11 of 17

I am so grateful for this thread! Thank you for posting it bass chick!!

 

Our 6 yo DS still won't sleep on his own and I was worried we were alone in this. I appreciate Peony bringing up anxiety -- I'm not sure I would have made the connection by myself, but once you said it, it clicked. Our older DD is being treated for anxiety and panic attacks, and both DH and I struggle with our own anxiety issues, so it would make perfect sense for DS to have it, too. I think I will talk to his ped and go from there.

 

One thing we did notice is that DS does much better with a very set routine. Maybe since your son is 8, you could sit down with him and your DH to create a set routine for bed that includes all of the things DS needs to feel secure, but sets clear limits to the time you will give him. And then come up with the procedure should he wake up. Then he agrees to it ahead of time, so there are no surprises (which often cause my DS a great deal of anxiety).
 

post #12 of 17

My 8 year old (9 in september) still needs one of us to lie down with him to fall asleep.  Lately, I've been in his 3 1/2 year old brothers bed for so long that he falls asleep before I get there sometimes, but he wouldn't stand for it if I was not in the same room.  He also has been up until two on the few nights I've tried to get him to sleep on his own.  I don't see him going into his room and turning the light off and getting under the covers anytime soon.  

 

Up until a couple of months ago, we all slept together in our bedroom.  My older one is also kind of a difficult kid to sleep with (seems to cuddle with me and kick dad, hmmmmm?), but we have a king size with a twin next to it for the four of us.  Now the kids are both starting out the night in their own beds and then coming in in the middle of the night.  This change came about in a similar way to what you've described in your family  --  unilateral insanity on dh's part.  I kinda went along with it at first thinking it would be nice for them to fall asleep in their room and give us a little privacy and maybe even an hour or two to sleep alone at night.  But then after a couple of weeks of things going pretty well, we had a couple of weeks that were so hard on me and my little one  --  dh being adamant that they move toward more sleeping in their rooms, little one feeling hurt and rejected, me feeling very stuck in between and *really* not wanting my LO to feel like I didn't want him with us (I did!).  It was really crappy and I'm still a little PO'd at dh.   A complicating factor is that I am taking the bar exam next week and am so annoyed that the kids' sleep has been messed with (it had been an awful long time since I had to do that thing of laying down with them multiple times a night  --  and this was not a good time since I have no child care and can only get good studying done after their asleep) and so annoyed at dh for not being more kind-hearted.  Ugh...  I don't want to think about it, and I haven't really thought a lot about it, but after the exam I'm pretty sure I'll be a lot more assertive.  I just feel so stressed about the test that I'm numb to the other stressors in my life now.  But anyhow, this is all just to say, I can imagine what you must be feeling like.  Hugs!

 

Btw, I love to see that there're so many of us co-sleeping with our older ones!  I love it so much and would still be doing it full time if I could swing (dh is pretty uptight about it), and I am always happy when my kids come in in the middle of the night.  I was a little worried I was the only one because I started a thread similar to this a few weeks ago in the family bed section and I got only one response.  Next time I'll have to start one in childhood years.

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your input, suggestions and thoughts!!

I guess I didn't ever consider DS anxious, but now that it is mentioned, he is very rigid with his expectations and easily disappointed and refuses to go anywhere in the house alone. If I ask him to do something for me, he tries to coax his younger brother to accompany him because he does not want to be alone. He does have a very over-the-top vivid imagination.

We have done several things, which haven't really changed the sleeping situation, but I believe it has relieved some anxiety.

1. I keep a little lamp on with an LED light all night long, so his room isn't totally dark.

2. I snuggle him until he is asleep or mostly asleep, or at least I lay down in his bed with him and read or something. I'm trying to leave while he is still awake, but relaxed enough so he will drift off on his own.

3. I try to guide him in relaxation imagery so his mind is filled with thoughts of things that make him feel happy and peaceful.

4. We have told him that when he wakes up in the night to try not to call out for us but to just come and crawl in our bed. This is working fine and DH is now saying things like, "You know what? We should enjoy this time that he wants to snuggle, because its not going to last forever. In a few years, we will be missing this!" So everyone has relaxed a bit.

 

One thing I notice about DS is that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he doesn't actually wake up. I'm pretty sure he is sleep walking. He will start talking and not make any sense. Sometimes he crawls into bed with his younger brother and his younger brother HATES it and kicks him out of bed. Sometimes I am sleeping with his younger brother...like last night....and he came into the room and started poking me in the eyelid. When I opened my eyes he was standing there, stuttering, but not saying anything. I told him to go to the bathroom and then go crawl in bed with dad. He said OK, and then took off down the hall in the other direction. A few seconds later he came back and I repeated it to him and he went and did it. It helps me to realize that he is likely not awake when he is walking around or calling for us in the middle of the night.

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bass chick View Post

One thing I notice about DS is that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he doesn't actually wake up. I'm pretty sure he is sleep walking. He will start talking and not make any sense. Sometimes he crawls into bed with his younger brother and his younger brother HATES it and kicks him out of bed. Sometimes I am sleeping with his younger brother...like last night....and he came into the room and started poking me in the eyelid. When I opened my eyes he was standing there, stuttering, but not saying anything. I told him to go to the bathroom and then go crawl in bed with dad. He said OK, and then took off down the hall in the other direction. A few seconds later he came back and I repeated it to him and he went and did it. It helps me to realize that he is likely not awake when he is walking around or calling for us in the middle of the night.

Glad things are going a bit better...

 

My son is prone to all the sleep disturbances (sleep walking, night terrors, insomnia, etc). They are all related in that someone who gets one can get all of them. They tend to be worse when a person is over tired. So you could think about whether ds is getting an optimal amount of sleep. It could be that if he can get a little more than he currently is getting, the sleep disturbances will lessen.

post #15 of 17

Gotta chime in!

 

I too still sleep with my 8 yo (9 in dec) Our bed time routines have not changed much since she was weaned! We read, then I lay down with her USUALLY until she is asleep - sometime I feel the need to take a bath (my major form of destressing/relaxation as well as hygeine) and she is okay with that - sometimes asking if/when I will be back? Or will have something I must do. But she knows that I actually do like this - I work FT and she is essentially away from home 45 hrs a week - this is important reconnection time - NO redirection or correction or anything but just being connected and I love it (she too has some anxiety - but other than some issues at five and some stomach ache stress, we see few difficulties and I agree that she feels comforted by this time of day/part of her life

 

 

I sometimes start the night in bed with dh, and she always wakes up at some point and comes looking for me - I will then take the 5-6 steps to her bed and go back to sleep - this does not bother me in the least - I just DO NOT WANT to have a hassle over this when ALL I WANT is to go back to sleep.

 

Dh is okay with this on some level - and I think feels troubled by it on others - If we can separate the broader societal expectations of what we think is 'normal' and simply ask ourselves what we feel is okay and right for ourselves we would eliminate alot of doubts.

 

I am further comforted by the fact that my dd is capable of going on and having sleep overs with friends (one in particular)- and has no trouble at all - loves them in fact - but again she is still sleeping with another person -just not me

 

 

I do wonder tho, what age will this resolve itself? Sounds like puberty is a typical separation point - I also worry if she will fall into deeper relationships as an adult  than she would otherwise because she cant stand sleeping alone? Or will the strong foundation lead her to the confidence and self-esteem to avoid jumping into such situations prematurely?

post #16 of 17

Gotta chime in!

 

I too still sleep with my 8 yo (9 in dec) Our bed time routines have not changed much since she was weaned! We read, then I lay down with her USUALLY until she is asleep - sometime I feel the need to take a bath (my major form of destressing/relaxation as well as hygeine) and she is okay with that - sometimes asking if/when I will be back? Or will have something I must do. But she knows that I actually do like this - I work FT and she is essentially away from home 45 hrs a week - this is important reconnection time - NO redirection or correction or anything but just being connected and I love it (she too has some anxiety - but other than some issues at five and some stomach ache stress, we see few difficulties and I agree that she feels comforted by this time of day/part of her life

 

 

I sometimes start the night in bed with dh, and she always wakes up at some point and comes looking for me - I will then take the 5-6 steps to her bed and go back to sleep - this does not bother me in the least - I just DO NOT WANT to have a hassle over this when ALL I WANT is to go back to sleep.

 

Dh is okay with this on some level - and I think feels troubled by it on others - If we can separate the broader societal expectations of what we think is 'normal' and simply ask ourselves what we feel is okay and right for ourselves we would eliminate alot of doubts.

 

I am further comforted by the fact that my dd is capable of going on and having sleep overs with friends (one in particular)- and has no trouble at all - loves them in fact - but again she is still sleeping with another person -just not me

 

 

I do wonder tho, what age will this resolve itself? Sounds like puberty is a typical separation point - I also worry if she will fall into deeper relationships as an adult  than she would otherwise because she cant stand sleeping alone? Or will the strong foundation lead her to the confidence and self-esteem to avoid jumping into such situations prematurely?

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonamarq View Post

I also worry if she will fall into deeper relationships as an adult  than she would otherwise because she cant stand sleeping alone? Or will the strong foundation lead her to the confidence and self-esteem to avoid jumping into such situations prematurely?

mama with due respect i think you are overthinking this.

 

i think sleeping alone is a personality issue - nothing really to do with how long you cosleep or not.

 

i still dont enjoy sleeping alone. i dont sleep well on the nights dd isnt with me - though i do have our kitty for company.

 

however dd has just started sleeping alone after she turned 10. she asked me if i would mind if she asked me to sleep alone eyesroll.gif.  however most nights we snuggle and i have just started reading to her again - so really we are back to cosleeping again some nights eyesroll.gif because "I" yes ME who falls asleep midway and its dd who puts out the light and puts the book/s away. redface.gif

 

but i can tell she is ready to sleep alone because now we sleep without our bodies touching. before this dd's feet HAD to be touching mine.

 

there was a huge jump in maturity when dd was 10 and i think sleeping alone has everything to do with independence rather than actually enjoying sleeping alone. she went to camp this summer and a vacation where she had to sleep alone and she discovered - hey it wasnt as scary as she thought it could be. she does not mind that some nights i am in her bed with her.

 

i notice these days dd is turning to music and books - her kind of literature - to destress and reduce anxiety.

 

however also she has friends to play with after school. that has added a HUGE huge huge layer to her own self confidence and happiness.

 

i dont think she will suffer from neediness from adults. heck putting up with egos is just not worth it to me just to have a warm body in bed. i enjoy actively sleeping together (not sex) - either conversation or physical touching (again not sex) but would never put up with somebody just to have a warm body in bed. so not worth it.

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