My son is 9 years old and frequently scared at night.
I wish I had some advice for oyu, but it seems as if you've tried most of what I would suggest.
My 8 yr old son used to be the same way. He just kind of outgrew it. I bought him one of those air freshener/night lights that change colors and he uses that plus I let him sleep with the radio on, turned really low. I go in and tuck him in, make sure has his stuffed animals, turn his radio on, and make sure his night light is working. He still gets up once in a while, but nothing like he used to.
What started my son in being scared was when we moved to a new town and his dad started working nights. I think once he realized that we were ok at night without daddy home, then he relaxed more and is now able to sleep ok (for the most part).
I hope you figure something out. I know it's exhausting to deal with, especially when you have other children. Let us know how it goes.
I think its normal. The only thing I could think of that I don't see if you've tried would be to go back in to check on him again. Say maybe 15 minutes after he's turned off the light. Then maybe tell him you will check in on him right before you go to bed.
I like the idea of letting him listen to music to calm and relax him.
Hello, Anne! I'm a lurker on this board, but I think I can help. Sounds like your son is a lot like My DD Mariana, 9. She is a very sensitive girl. Since she was a baby a lot of things made her nervous and we have learned to deal with that over the years (the book The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them by Elaine Aro helped us a lot). When she turned nine, she suddenly was afraid to go to sleep. Never mind that we keep a night light on down the corridor; that was not enough). She didn't have a problem going to sleep, but kept waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning and called me or her dad to keep her company. Needless to say, we were exhausted, and I thought this was not helping since the only thing we accomplished was that she depended on us to go back to sleep. We asked her what made her nervous at night and she mentioned several different things: noises in the house, or that the door of her closet was open, etc. I was worried there was something else bothering her, something at school for example, but she insisted everything was ok. This went on for weeks. I finally asked her pediatrician and she advised us to take her to a neurologist "just to be safe" because she thought insomnia was not a typical disorder in children. We did, but the neurologist evaluated her and said that she was only a nervous child and recommended us psychotherapy.
The therapist talked with her and told us what we already knew: she is a bright girl, her social skills are good, she is healthy, but she is extremely sensitive. This, by the way, is not a disorder but a personality trait. At nine, she is "getting herself ready" to be a teenager, she explained, and this makes kids more aware things good and bad in the world. That's why she is more anxious to "let go" when she goes to sleep. She needs reassurance that when she is sleep everything will be ok around her. So we tried different things to give her that feeling. Incredibly, the solutions in our case were very simple. She will sleep soundly if there is "noise", that is, the kind of noise that make her feel that life goes on while she is sleeping: the TV in the background, her ipod (but I'm not wild about her sleeping with headphones on) or with a small radio. According to the therapist this is only a phase and she will adapt and sleep without 'help" sometime in the future. Wheeewww! Sorry for being too long, but I thought I could be helpful to tell you the whole story. Good luck with your DS, maybe a little background noise is all that he needs. Here's to a goodnight sleep for you and your son!
You're welcome! If your DS is like my DD, the book gives you the answers that explain a lot of of strange behavior LOL!For example, I finally understood why my DD didn't like to go to the movies until she was about 6 years old (she experienced a sensory overload. She had to be more mature), or why she needed A LOT of quiet time after a noisy party (the kids, the screaming, the piñata...it was too much). Anyway, this type of personality affects sleeping patterns as well. Maybe I don´t need to tell you she has never watched a remotely scary movie in her life (which is tough for me since I'm a horror movie fan!)
Good luck again! I look forward to reading how things go !