Getting my 8yr old daughter to sleep on her own - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 02-22-2013, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter won't fall asleep on her own and much less stay in her bed through the night. Last night I tried something new and it back fired. Our routine is for me to lie down with her until she falls asleep then I quietly walk out. Then some time during the night she comes into our bed. Most of the time we don't even feel her.

So last night I said how about we try to not hold hands while you fall asleep. She got mad at me and blamed me for not being able to sleep. Like I was the one who was ruining her bedtime. I just wanted to do a less cosleeping, somehow.

The most difficult part is that I have a 2 yr old that sleeps great. If and when I try something new I'm afraid he is going to wake up and then I will have to deal with a whole other problem.

How do I get my daughter to feel safe if she goes to sleep on her own? Help please.
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#2 of 13 Old 02-22-2013, 01:44 PM
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You said she doesn't feel safe - did she say that? If so I would explore that more. Otherwise I would ask her - is there a reason you don't want to fall asleep on your own? At 8 I think you could have a reasonable conversation that includes ideas that would help her - maybe she wants a nightlight or a small cd player, something like that to help her?

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#3 of 13 Old 02-22-2013, 02:53 PM
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At this age I would simply say "You are staying in bed. If you are afraid of something you need to tell me.  You can read, count sheep ....whatever make you happy , but if you come to my bed, all the priviliges will be taken away."


It is not a need at this age, it is want and manipulative one.  You deserve your rest, and unless the 8 yo is sick, there is not need for hand holding.



One of the biggest gifts caring adults give children is ability to understand boundaries and to practice self care. Give that gift to her.

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#4 of 13 Old 02-23-2013, 01:31 AM
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have patience. 


the time will be soon.


not yet perhaps.


8 is the time of great inner change - consciousness change. there's a lot going on inside. and its nice to have the safety of mama to sleep with. 


a lot of death and monster and ghost issues come up at this age. 


i recall from about 8 to 10 a lot of kids from dd's class was going back to sleep with their parents. like your dd - join them for part of the night. i remember doing that at that age myself even though i shared a room with my brother. 


you know it can be a joint decision. both of you can work on a solution. 


just hang in there a little bit longer. some kids like yours and mine take time. 


let me tell you though i miss the one on one connection of our night routine when dd wants to go to bed by herself. 


oh and never NEVER try to trick them. they ALWAYS see through it and its an epic fail. 

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#5 of 13 Old 02-23-2013, 08:04 AM
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I think a conversation about this and deciding your limits and laying them out clearly in the morning is good. I would have a no talking rule and give a time limit then leave unless the two of you can find a better solution together. If this is how she gets time with only you it might help to find another way to give her that time during the day though. It doesn't have to be a lot ime, just fifteen minutes spent listening and responding to my dd cuts clinginess down significantly.

I don't think it is a good idea to let your worry about her tantrums stop you from putting a limit in place. If she does have a tantrum that wakes your younger child i suggest putting her to bed first the next night (make sure this is simething you state will happen when you talk to her about limits). At that age a conversation and plan can be very effective. It is how i do most of my parenting.

As for staying in bed in the middle of the night, i have no ideas. My dd started the night in her own bed at that age but still came into mine in the middle of the night almost nightly. At age nine it was rare and became mostly something she did on weekend mornings to snuggle.
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#6 of 13 Old 02-23-2013, 01:37 PM
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If you've made it this far with co-sleeping with her, why not wait until she's ready and decides on her own? It can only be a few more years, at most. Its wonderful that you've been able to give this to her for 8 years.

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#7 of 13 Old 02-24-2013, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for the words of advice. I know it will be a process. Trying to find the one that will sting least will be a task. I know sticking to a plan is key. I will try something new tonight.

We did talk and she came up with some suggestions of her own. I just hope she can remember that at night.
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#8 of 13 Old 02-24-2013, 08:02 AM
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My 12 yr old and 9 yr old often still come to get in our bed in the middle of the night, but it's less often now (maybe a couple of times a week) and we don't usually mind. I would never cut that off from them. I feel like it's a very important source of comfort for them.


If she's anxious about falling back to sleep by herself that's one of the worst things you can do. It just heightens her anxiety. I would reassure her that you are right there and she can come if she needs you, but how about she try rolling over and going back to sleep on her own first. Is the 2 yr old in bed with you? She may felt a bit left out at that.


If you really want to try to get her to stay in her bed you could go to her when she wakes up and then when she falls back asleep get back in your bed. That's too much effort for me and I just let them get in my bed, but if it's really important for you to have your own space that's one approach. 


I would encourage her to stay w/o making her more anxious about it and be sure to let her know that you are there for her if she really needs it. The more you push her away the more you will increase her anxiety. If you can show her the way w/o pushing and let her know that you know she can do it and that you are there for her you will be more successful. 

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#9 of 13 Old 03-14-2013, 12:27 PM
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My 9yo still needs this - I have let her know that I enjoy it but want her to be able to sleep "on her own " at certain times - if she needs to sleep over grandma's (she's done that twice) and she LOVES to sleep over her best friend's house and have her over as well - but then she isn't sleeping alone, just not with me - and she needs to be able to fall asleep on her own as well sometimes


She is wrestling with the desire to 'do it on her own' mixed with the preference of still being with me - at our house the routine has always been I fall asleep with her - step away for some time with dh, bath for myself etc. She always comes to my bed between 12-2 and our queen is not big enough for three of us so I go to her room which is about three steps away (and usually take a trip to the bathroom while I'm at it) I never have trouble going back to sleep and we seem to be so in sync that I am awake before she even gets to me - aside from wondering when she will outgrown this I have NEVER had an issue with it


For a few months now she has been seeing a counselor for anxiety (there is a family hx and she does have some gen anx but handles it well and is quite articulate about it, thanks to her Dad's guidance) Together they are working on steps but this comes from her with gentle encouragement (especially to stick to any agreed upon goals before her next session)


She has successfully made it through the night without coming for me (one time, as part of her agreed goal) but mostly she is holding at falling asleep on her own after 10 -15 min of lying down together - I see this as 'her issue' and while I am ther to guide, support, help, and encourage I don't sweat it


Yes, I often wonder when I'll 'get the boot' but she is my only child (and has PLENTY of boundaries in other areas, IMO) and I do enjoy the togetherness, and feel that has tremendous value - I just try to be mindful that I am not holding her back in any way - and given her love of the sleepover I hardly think that is happening smile.gif


The question tho, that I have had to ask MYSELF many times before arriving at this point,  Is this a problem for anyone in the family? (nope) Dh has questioned it from time to time mostly out of concern for her healthy development - but he's an anthropologist and I just remind him our arrangement is the most common throughout the world's cultures and he pretty much shuts up -( we both work flex schedules so we find time alone when we want to...)


For what it's worth I have also read over on the family bed forum that kids with anxiety often take longer to feel okay sleeping on their own - and most report that they've switched to sleeping on their own around puberty - I highly doubt she'll be sleeping with me by the time she's 14....I choose to enjoy it while it lasts, just like all that holding her I did when she was a baby...

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#10 of 13 Old 03-16-2013, 06:33 PM
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My 8 year old still gets in my bed every night and I waver between not minding and feeling frustrated. I haven't had to lie down with him for a couple of years now. That ended when he found something else he would rather do. When his cousin used to come to stay I would let her watch a DVD while I lay with my son to settle him to sleep. One day he wanted to watch the DVD too. I said that he could watch if he wanted but that he would do that instead of me lying with him and doing both would make bedtime take too long. It meant that we had DVD watching as part of our bedtime routine for over a year which I hadn't planned but it worked well as a transition. So perhaps something that she does instead may work for your daughter?


When it comes to coming in during the night, if he comes in before I've gone to sleep I tuck him back in his own bed, but otherwise I barely notice so I'm trying to relax about it. When I used to have a partner ,and bedsharing wasn't working, we did manage to work that out together, so I try to tell myself the same would happen again if it needed to. Sometimes I think that the most helpful thing we can do is to try and change our own feelings and worries rather than necessarily change the behaviour.

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#11 of 13 Old 03-16-2013, 09:09 PM
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this is meemee's daughter. I think that your child will leave on her own. Time is the key. You just can't rush things like this. I feel ya. Sometimes I don't want to sleep with my mom. Sometimes I want to have my own space, just for one blissful night. But you have to wait for this to happen to your child, because from one night, it will increase to two, then three, than four, and, soon enough, your child will not be in your bed! So, what I am trying to say is that, add time to the mixture, and your set.

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#12 of 13 Old 03-16-2013, 09:33 PM
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LIzzet, I hear your frustration, and I wanted to say, I totally understand why "just give her more time" is not so much a winning proposition.  The time after my kids go to bed is the time I have to myself and with my DH.  It's the time we use to clean up the house, pay the bills, talk about adult concerns, work on our own projects.  Eight years of an hour and a half of waiting for a child to fall asleep is a ton of deferred maintenance.  What's comforting and comfortable to her may reasonably be increasingly maddening to you.  And you do have to consider that you have more then one kid, and you'd have a hell of a time doing this for two.  My inclination would be to supply a fearful child with a nightlight and a cd of quiet music, and at a certain point,  limit on how long you're hanging out.


My kids both mostly sleep in their own beds, most nights, and come into my bed when they're fearful or worried or just clingy, but I can't really stand for them to do that for more then a night or two a month.  We try to process as much as we can during waking hours, and we talk a lot about how we are always looking out for our kids, even when we aren't right there by them.   We have a post-nightmare routine that ends with kids back in their own beds. 

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#13 of 13 Old 03-20-2013, 01:20 PM
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It can take 2-3 hours for the bedtime routine...  I snuggle and read to the younger and wait for him to fall asleep (he'll be 8 in a few months) and then snuggle and read to the older and wait for him to fall asleep (he'll be 10 this summer).   2 hours is about typical.  If it's all done in one hour I'm amazed.  


On one hand, I think it's ridiculous that it takes so much time away from how I could be spending the evenings (with DP, writing, resting, bathing, reading, discussing household or adult matters with my partner, or relaxing as I'm pregnant and increasingly tired) before I'm exhausted and ready to fall asleep.  So much of the time my partner is already in bed by the time I'm ready to spend a few moments alone with him and it's a bummer.  There's just usually not much time left after for anything else, and it's a shame.


But, on the other, much bigger hand, I love snuggling their little, (ok not so little but they are going to be huge men before I turn around) warm, bodies close to me and feeling how very very at peace and blissed out they feel to get one on one mama time and melt into me.   I love having that private time to talk about whatever it is they may feel able to say to me in the dark, private moments of the bedtime snuggle before they drift off.  I know that my older child is just around the corner from puberty issues that will make his bed and his body 1,000% off limits to me, and I am trying to savor each bedtime snuggle as if it could be the last  The younger one is still mama's little baby for just 6 more months until #3 comes along and I know he is relishing these last moments of being my baby, and although he's growing up too, I know he has a bit of insecurity about a new baby and not being my youngest anymore (8 years is a long time to be used to that role of youngest), so I'm trying to be very available to him as he gets used to the idea of a new baby.  


I think APing lasts longer than the first 5 years.  My mom is still happy to let me crawl into bed with her and relax against her (as extremely rare as that ever happens), and I'm glad for that.

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