It Runs in the Family

Unfortunately, “it” in this case seems to be sleeping problems.

I don’t know if we can classify it as insomnia just yet, but: Flora can’t fall asleep at night.

For about a week now, she’s come down between 9:30 and 10 p.m. to complain that she can’t fall asleep. Dan lets her sit on the couch with him for a little bit, watching TV. I’ve given her melatonin (about 1 mg) to see if that helps. (She says it doesn’t.)

Last night, she was up past midnight.

This is not good.

She is fried. She is frazzled; her temper is a hair trigger; she will scream or cry at the drop of a hat.

For an active 8-year-old, not getting more than 8 hours a night is not healthy. Letting her sit on the couch and watch TV because she can’t sleep is not going to help.

Tonight, I’m going to try some deep breathing with her. She has soccer this evening too, which may help knock her out. I’m also going to see if I can get her to count to 100 when she can’t sleep. I’m going to make it clear that she cannot come downstairs after 9 p.m.

I’m not sure if she’s anxious about something in particular or not.

A boy at extended day has been picking on her — unfortunately, he picks on everyone. She’s been doing the right things: telling him to stop, walking away, getting an adult. I told her if it continued, I would step in with the school.

She says she likes her teacher. She’s doing well in school with her work. She likes soccer, although sometimes she finds it challenging. She’s on a co-ed team with third and fourth graders, and sometimes at practice if she’s in a group of fourth graders, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. The coaches don’t pressure her. She feels like the older kids “tell her what to do”. She finds it upsetting.

We’ve been doing yoga a couple of times a week. After balking at first, she likes to do it now. I think she finds it fun to stretch and hold the poses. She doesn’t think of it as something she *has* to do. (Confession: I really like it too. This has come as a surprise to me. But I’ll talk about that another day.)

We’ll try a few things to see what helps. But if this continues, I may take her to the pediatrician. I doubt they’ll give her medication, but maybe they can help by talking to her about the importance of sleep, and maybe they will have some other ideas to help her quiet her brain. I’m sure that’s the crux of the issue.

How would you help an 8-year-old get better rest?

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7 thoughts on “It Runs in the Family

  1. I had stress related sleeping issues around her age, too. My mom taught me how to do some self-relaxation techniques. The one that was the most helpful to me was laying very still, and thinking about relaxing each body part starting at the extremities. Toes, fingers, calves, knees, elbows, etc. And not letting myself think about anything else but those body parts. Lots of slow, deep breathing. I still use it sometimes. It helped me learn how to physically relax my muscles (which were tense with anxiety) and also turn my brain off.

  2. Ditto on the relaxation / guided meditation. This is shavasana, a very important part of yoga practice where you purposefully rest the body and the mind at the end of your practice. Deep breathing and “breathing into” each part of the body and letting tension go with each exhale helps keep the mind focused on relaxation and breathing. I play a special lullaby collection of classical music also. Tv is NOT a good idea. Nip that asap. You may try more melatonin. Aidan takes 5 mg everynight,he is almost 100 lbs. Be careful though…i have heard some parents report night terrors. Routine prior to bedtime is very important too…some quiet winding down time..like your yoga, etc. Good luck !

    • I was thinking of some kind of meditation music as they were falling asleep might help. Will have to look into that more. Dan has a couple of CDs he uses with patients.

      And, yeah, TV. Dan is a sucker for the move because he misses Flora (and all the kids), so he uses it as an excuse to “spend time” with her. I had to point out that staying up with him isn’t helping her. He agrees.

  3. During the worst of Kristen’s behavior both boys started to struggle actively with anxiety. M was most oown about it, T was quieter ( and younger). The best thing I found was to maintain a consistent schedule of relaxing activities: bath, then read, then saying our prayers and quiet time. No complaining before bed, only gratitude. Focusing on the positive brings better dreams. They still are total butts if they don’t go to bed on time and I wish they still said their prayers, but they do stick to the rest of it and it seems to work for them.

  4. Thank you all!
    I know that anxiety is something Flora gets directly from me. I feel a little bad about it, but instead of beating myself up, I do need to address it actively with her. She responded well to guided relaxation and cleansing breaths (as did Kate). She’s staying in her bed, and falling asleep earlier. She’s still anxious, but I keep touching base with her and trying to find ways to deal with her problems. They are common 8-year-old concerns: a boy being mean (as I said, he’s mean to everyone — he’s ‘that kid’), spats with her current BFF. We’re getting there!!

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