My 7 year old is a worrier. Every night when she lays down in bed her mind goes into overdrive and she begins to worry. Most of the time the things she worries about are ridiculous to me but very real to her. Things like "I got sharpie on my arm today. Will it poison me?" "Is the dog in the house and not lost in the woods?" "will I get an infection from the tiny cut on my toe?"
She is in and out of bed til 11pm every night and honestly it's wearing on my sanity and keeping her from getting up in th mornings.
Does anyone have advice for helping to ease her fears and/or help me gradually ease her back to a more reasonable sleep/wake schedule? Currently, everyone else is up and ready for school by 7:30 while she's still in bed at 9, then crabby all day because I had to drag her out of bed earlier than she wanted to be up.
I'd try magnesium supplements for calming her, plus melatonin on the days when she's really having a hard time. Melatonin is what I use when my kids' clocks need to be reset.
I'd get some soothing CDs and have her listen to those instead of lying awake worrying.
You might also want to look at the book: Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. 7 is a time of worry (they're starting to understand the dangers of the real world, but have no concept of scale/likelihood), but this book has some good ideas of things that you can try.
My DD6 (will be 7 on 3/31) is exactly the same. I noticed that she revs up at bedtime and she is a night owl to begin with. Her mind will dart off to something I didn't even know was worrying her, about the day just past or the day to come or a birthday party two weeks away.
One thing that works when her body is tired but her mind is not is to take her through the relaxation steps I learned in the Sivenanda style yoga class. In a gentle monotone, you start at the toes, and work your way up the body "I'm relaxing my toes...I'm relaxing my toes...My toes are completely relaxed; I'm relaxing my feet...I'm relaxing my feet...My feet are completely relaxed..." usually by the time I get to her mind and breath, she is asleep." It is my hope that eventually DD will, when she is older, be able to recite this to herself and fall asleep on her own.
In order to reset her clock to be going to sleep at a more reasonable time (she was ending up overtired, which made bedtimes even more difficult) I did follow a doctor's recommendation on the melatonin, 500 micrograms (half milligram), I crush the tablet and add it to her milk or cocoa. Since she never has much to drink she isn't even taking the complete dose which is the tiniest one available to begin with but I noticed a significant change and we were able to roll her back to 9:30/9:45 as opposed to 10:30.
My 8y has struggled with this for the last two years. Melatonin does not work for it, it gives her very vivid nightmares, not what an anxious child needs! It got quite severe at one point at we were trying meds, they didn't work either. What works best for DD1 is follow many of the adult insomnia rules, make sure she is very active during the day, we have to set her up for success at night because on the nights that she isn't tired, she is going to lay there and worry, we do everything possible to help her sleep. Black out blinds, white noise, right temp.... Routine is also key for her I've discovered, an "off" day means more to process and think about at night, which means less sleep for her. We've done therapy off and on over the years, but I found one this fall that specializes in elem school age children. She teaches DD1 relaxation techniques, deep breathing, etc... and they just talk about DD1's fears. While I find them silly as well, I never let her know that, she really loves someone focused on just her and her fears. It is actually relaxing for her, she plays in the sand in the office and they chat, it is theraputic for her. They talk through the fears, come with with plans if something does happen. She still has bad nights every now and then but it isn't as common as it was before.