Stuttering and nighttime trauma

Our daughter is three-years-old. She was always a good sleeper, but three months ago she asked me to lay next to her as she fell asleep. Now she will not go to sleep unless I lay down with her. She says she is scared of monsters. We have done monster searches. We have even tried locking her in her room but she cries herself to sleep. A month ago she started stuttering. I'm not sure if the two problems are related but I feel like such a heel making her go through this repeated terror each night. Your advice would be most welcome.

Question:

You may never know if your daughter's stuttering is related to her nighttime fears, but you have to act as if it is. You really need to help your child learn how to go to sleep all over again. It is not uncommon for children who are good sleepers to be beset by fears of monsters and other problems as they grow older. This just means that they have entered a new stage of development. Let's not worry about what mistakes you've made in trying to get your daughter to sleep and concentrate on getting her to sleep now.

First, tell your daughter that you think she needs extra help and care from you in getting to sleep. Your job is to take care of her and that is what you are going to do. Make sure she understands that you will be there for her and no more locking doors.

Next, reestablish a bedtime routine like the one you used to have. Make it very plain to your daughter that you will follow this routine every night. If she still needs the monster search, put it in the routine.

Assure your daughter tht you will sit right next to her in a chair. She can just say "Daddy?" if she wants to check that you're still there. And you'll answer. For a while, I recommend that you actually sit there until she falls asleep. It has been a very difficult time for your daughter and she really needs for you to show her that you can be relied upon to help her.

She may even awaken a few times during the night at first. Then you need to resume sitting with her. The next step, when she seems ready, is to sit in the chair for a while and then tell her that you're leaving, but you'll check on her in five minutes. And you'll keep checking on her every five minutes until she's asleep. As this continues, you can lengthen the time between checks.

Your daughter will most likely be able to learn to sleep this way. It is a long process, but you need to do some extra work because of your child's sensitivity in this area. You must assure your child that she is safe and that you can be depended upon to keep her that way.

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