14 answers

Fear of Spending the Night!

Hi ladies!
My girls will not spend the night anywhere but home! It's driving me nuts because I know they're missing out on lots of fun. It started this past summer after my oldest daughter spent 4 days/nights in Chicago with her best friend and her family. They had a blast--6 Flags, a waterpark, Kenny Chesney concert--I was a bit jealous!
She never hinted at all about being homesick when she called--it was all about the fun she was having.
Since then though, she will not spend the night anywhere...friends, aunts/uncles, even grandparents!! I have taken her and her sister to friends' houses, only to be called at bedtime to come and pick them up because they don't want to stay! The last time they spent the night at grandma and grandpa's it took everything I had to stay home and not drive an hour to go get them. They came home a day early--flat out refused to stay another night.
I feel bad because, like I mentioned, they're missing out on fun times! Without being totally mean and refusing to go pick them up, any suggestions on how to fix this?? I get this picture in my head of them crying and hysterical because I won't pick them up, so I give in and go get them.
They are supposed to go to grandma's at the end of the month for a Halloween party and when I told them about it, they both got visibly upset...the little one even started to cry and tell me that she would miss me too much if she went.
Have I spoiled them by being around too much? (I lost my job a year ago and am in school now) What are they gonna do if/when I go back to work!!!!!???
Any suggestions?? I'm open to try anything at this point! Thank you moms!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Maybe since this is something new maybe something happened to make her fearful of being away or maybe being away from you. Might just be a dream that something happened to you when she was gone or more series. Maybe you should have them go talk to a professional.

More Answers

I have a very fearful five year old--he is very afraid of new situations, which is weird, since he is this loud, outgoing, super-friendly kid. And, we lived in WA state for quite a while, while our family was in the midwest, meaning our kids never did nights away with any relatives without us. Now that we are back in MN, I really wanted my boys to be ok with staying away from us, if for no other reason than if we should HAVE to, they wouldn't have the double whammy of whatever crisis came up PLUS staying away from mom and dad. So I tend to think you should encourage the nights away. Your girls are old enough to tell time; do they know when you're returning? Maybe having grandma or grandpa stay at YOUR house while you get away would transition them a little more easily? My son needs to know what to expect, and not knowing makes him VERY anxious. We prepared him for months to spend four days with grandma and grandpa on their farm. He also liked knowing he was going with his baby brother. Maybe telling the girls where you'll be when they're there would help? Planning a phone call? Talking about all the fun they'll have (when my son starts fretting about being away from us, all I have to do is look at him sternly and say, "Now, daddy and I will be gone, so don't have ALL the fun with ...grandma... ..aunt...babysitter..." and he looks at me mischieviously and laughs, saying, "We're gonna have ALL the fun!" and then he's suddenly fine, realizing that he WILL have fun without us--all on his own. Hmmm...don't know if any of this is great advice, but I'd just take it really slowly--maybe an afternoon at grandma and grandpa's? Then an evening? Then an overnight? I'd work hard with grandma and grandpa, esp since they're relatively close, to get the girls out and about a little more, because I think you're right--they are old enough to be alone for a night with someone they trust, and they should be able to enjoy it. I also think, though, that forcing it could backfire--so it's matter of walking that thin line! Good luck!

I would not force them to do any sleepovers they dont want to - unless it was something that was a must, like if you and hubby were going out of town, something like that. If they dont want to, dont make them. They will do it when they are ready. My girls are 6 and 8. My 6 yo has spent the night at my sister's house and that is all. She just isnt ready. My 8 yo has spent the night at friends' houses, but sometimes calls and wants to come home. I have not gone and gotten her, but just talked to her on the phone and she was fine (although with some kids, talking to mom on the phone makes it worse). I would work on having sleepovers at your house, get them more comfortable with that. Also, having them sleep somewhere other than their beds - like in the family room on a weekend, with you in your room, so they are getting used to sleeping out of their beds, but with you near by (even if they arent having anyone else over, they can do a "sleepover" with just them). Then I would work on having them gone from you, but just for they day, not overnight - with them knowing it is just for the day. You could also work on all of you spending the night away from home - at a hotel, or at grandma's, etc. I would just work on it small steps at a time. It is them who are missing out, eventually they will be ready again and will do it on their own time. I was very clingy to my mom as a kid and took a long time until I was comfortable sleeping away from home.
(ps, I am sure they will do great once you go back to work, it is probably just a night time thing, and I am sure it has been wonderful for them having you home!)

I kind if get a red flag feeling when you said they used to enjoy spending the night away until recently: since the vacation with her friend. Did something happen to her??? Was she abused (molested)? I know that no mom wants to think that but it seems quite unusual that she is 11 and just suddenly started feeling this way. She may not open up to you but I would definitely have a heart to heart and make sure that she knows it is NOT her fault (if something did happen.) If she can't or won't tell you why she no longer enjoys sleepovers I suggest having her talk to your pastor (or a local non-denominational pastor) and see if they can help.....

As for the younger one. It sounds like she is feeding off your older daughters' fear. YOU have done nothing wrong. You have not spoiled them by being home with them. I am with my kids 24/7 almost every week and they still beg to go sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa's house and to go places. (They are 4 1/2 and 2.) I would not suggest forcing them to sleep over at other peoples' houses. This will only make them more fearful.

I wish you the best. I hope you can find where this is stemming from! I am so sorry to even suggest this and I hope that I am very wrong. It was just my immediate thought when you told your story...... And I wanted to put it out there in case it had not crossed your mind.

Don't worry!!!!!my mom gives in to my brother all the time !!!when they call tell them to go outside(u 2)and tell them that your right there watching them and you'll be there soon.if that doesnt work ask to speak with the adult in charge.see if they can make your kids feel any better.if that doesn't work(which I doubt it won't)then they're obviously not ready for the challenge !!!they will get there!

I can't offer a lot of advice, but we're in a similar situation. My 8 year old has been on sleepovers at Grandma's and a couple at friends houses and was always fine. This summer, she seems to have developed separation anxiety and refuses to go on sleep overs (even to Grandmas, like yours), dropping her off at school for the first couple weeks was very difficult, and she's reluctant to participate in her outside school activities unless she can see a parent is waiting there for her. Apparently separation anxiety can develop during the school age years so we've started having her see a psychologist which is helping. That might be worth a try if this continues.

they don't know they are missing out on fun...and fun doesn't only happen when you stay overnight at someone's house...

heck I'd be HAPPY if my kids didn't want to stay at their grandmothers house...as there are many issues that go along with it when they do...

but your girls are old enough to voice their own opinion and wants and 'dis'wants. I would however talk with the older one and see what may have happened on that trip as to what may have frightened her...

There are two ways to go, and you might want to do both. One is to ask them why they're afraid, and really listen to them and respect what they say. The other is to use Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a way of resolving fears without necessarily knowing where they came from. There's lots of info about it on the internet. For doing it with children, I'd recommend tappybear.com.

Maybe since this is something new maybe something happened to make her fearful of being away or maybe being away from you. Might just be a dream that something happened to you when she was gone or more series. Maybe you should have them go talk to a professional.

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