Sleep issues

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So my little boy came to us at age 13 months, he is now 5 1/2. As an infant he had no issues sleeping but the older he gets the difficult things have become. We had to move schools last year and since then bedtime has become difficult. He had become very aggressive and bites hits and scratches. I have cuddled him and been there and not left him since September and constantly reassuring him but it still continues. I’m not sure what to do? It can take up to 2 hours of back rubs reassurance hugs etc and he still

Kicks hits and scratches??? Anyone else experience this?

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When AS1 was about that age he would get upset with me at bedtimes. I ended up holding him which would work and giving him a blanket to hide under. My husband would sometimes need to come in to give us both a break. He eventually grew out of it.

Now, melatonin is our friend. Works great on AS1 and to a lesser degree with AS2.

Anxiety/self esteem was a huge driver. I had him assessed for learning issues. Some were identified and he now gets accommodations at school. That has had largest impact on anxiety.


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Our DD was the same between 6 and 8. It is a difficult age for all children not just adopted. It doesn’t take much to disrupt sleep patterns and impose bedtime anxiety. I remember at exactly that age being anxious myself and rebelling against bedtime because sitting in church and listening to a fire and brimstone sermon had scared the poop out of me and I was afraid to go to sleep in case I died and ended up in hell. I was in my mum and dad’s bed for six months. When the same symptoms appeared in my DD a few months after placement, we largely followed the same approach, if she wouldn’t settle in her own room then she came to ours. From talking with friends and other adopters, this is happening all over the country with 5 year olds. It seems to be an age where the brain starts to make the connections that drive the anxiety and relate them to bedtime when they will have the mental space to dwell on them. They then work on fear and use the outbursts to avoid the trigger.

After about six months our DD started to go back to her own room but still had the option to come back if she needed. Once we could get her there consistently we referred ourselves to Sleep Solutions who imposed a bedtime routine, which was followed to the letter and because it was like a checklist our DD obsessively followed it and has been fine since.

One thing sleep solutions noted was that she was going to bed too early. They explained that all children do not need the same amount of sleep and that the formulas that are published are guides only. They pointed out that if they are going to bed at 7:30 to 8:00pm then they are probably not sleeping to 10:00pm then perhaps put them to bed at 9:30pm and they will still be asleep at 10:00pm. This surprisingly worked. DD was so knackered by bedtime, she would usually go straight to sleep. By age 8 she would put herself to bed around 9pm and read herself to sleep. She sleeps through to 8 on a school day, giving herself 10 hours which is plenty.

We never really got to the bottom of what was driving my DD’s bedtime anxiety although we could make some assumptions, we never got to the real reasons. Strangely enough when I was acting the same way at 5, I never told my parents what was behind it because I knew deep down it was irrational, even though I didn’t know what irrational was at the time. I just lashed out at them when they tried to put me to bed.

Here we are 45 years later and I’m writing this at 4:30 in the morning, still with disrupted sleep patterns and not fitting the norms.

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Hello Scottyp, Our 5 year old has recently started having issues going to sleep after being a great sleeper. He will bite, hit kick, throw things, kick the door, shout and continually comes out of his room, he has been doing this for the last couple of months. He will do this for 2 hours and this is despite appearing very tired at bedtime. We have found that if we let him do this for 15 minutes then lie down with him to " help" him sleep he will be asleep within 10 minutes. He hates this as I lie on the bed with him and restrain him so that he can't hit, kick or headbut and he shouts stop hurting me!, let me go! and I hate you mummy! (probably does hurt when he tries to get free), but I count seconds and take deep breaths and after about 2 minutes he start to relax. At the beginning I used to stay until he was asleep, he now says "I'm calm now, you can go" and goes to sleep within 5 minutes of me leaving the room. It just seems as if he can't calm himself down without help at bedtime.

Hope something like this might help you!

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