71/2 Yr Old Son Afraid to Sleep in His Room

Updated on September 02, 2009
C.Y. asks from San Diego, CA
12 answers

I have two boys ages 5 and 7. Within the past two weeks my older son has been crying everynight before he goes to bed that he doesnt want to sleep alone even though his brother is right next to him. He cries hysterically saying that he is afraid or that he cant sleep.He will fall asleep and wake up himself up to use the bathroom when really I think its just an excuse to check on us. He has never had any sleep issues before. I have no idea what to do. Whether to lay with him and put him to bed or to let him work it out. He refuses to sleep in his own bed ( we have bunk beds) so he sleeps with his little brother. I have purchased night lights and done about everything I can. School starts next week and Im afraid he is going to be sooo tired he wont be able to concentrate. Do I treat him like a toddler and let him tough it out or put him to sleep everynight and hope I dont create a bad habit. As all busy moms do, bedtime is a time for me to get things done (i.e chores, lunches, shower, etc..) Any advise would be wonderful ! Thanks

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So What Happened?

Thank you ladies for all of your advice! Last night went sooooo much better !! He woke up this morning so happy that he did it ! He slept through the night. I ended up finding one of those things that makes all kinds of different noises ( rain, waterfall, stream, etc..) and he loved it. So all was well in our house last night. Im going to keep my fingers crossed that this continues... Again, thank you and God bless !

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answers from Honolulu on

It seems out of the ordinary that only in the past 2 weeks... hes has been crying every night before bed and seems afraid to be alone and will need to sleep with his little brother in his bed.

Have you asked him, why and what is scaring him?
Did anything happen to him, or anywhere?
Is he having bad dreams?
Did anything change in his life?
Did someone tell him anything negative?
Did he perhaps overheard someone say anything?
Was he ever alone somewhere that he got scared?
Is there something about "his" particular bed, that is scary and bothering him? And perhaps that is why he "can" fall asleep in his brother's bed?
Could it be he is afraid of heights?

I think, he needs help in working it out. Not just leaving him be to wallow in it.
Something is clearly bothering him.... and he needs comforting or help in "explaining" what is bothering him. Maybe he just does not know how to explain it.

All the best,

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answers from Las Vegas on

It sounds like he is afraid of the dark, which is pretty normal for a 7 year old. At that age, kids become increasingly creative and imaginative, but they do not necessarily have the mature cognitive ability to reason through their fears. No amount of forcing him to tough it out will speed the development of his brain's ability to think rationally when faced with his fears. That skill will come in time. I vote for putting him to sleep every night or letting him sleep with his little brother if that is not too imposing for the 5 year old. Or, don't laugh, co-sleep if you can stand it. I am sure he will be out of your bed and his brother's bed by the time he reaches 13. There is no reason, really, to require kids to master sleeping in their own beds, by themselves. Most adults do not even do that. Why make kids do it?

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi C.,
I'm mainly wondering what it is that has made him so uncomfortable lately. My gut instinct here is to ask if he has heard or overheard talk about the news. There have been a lot of creepy stories in the news lately. Many of them are getting coverage on many shows besides just the news, so it's hard to avoid hearing about them. Even if he's not hearing an actual news broadcast, there are still commercials and news teasers that mention the headlines. Even standing in line at the supermarket, story headlines are visible. I'm just wondering if there might be some item in the news that has stirred some fear or worry for him?
I'd check with him first to find out what his fear is about, and then talking with him about it. The bedtime routine stuff will only go so far if his real underlying concern is not eased.
Light to you and your little guy and family.



answers from Los Angeles on


I posted a link below to one of the more recent posts about a similar issue.


My immediate instincts are to ask have you sat down and talked to him? Asked him what's bohtering him? Kids sometimes don't offer up that information on their own and we often have to make sure they know it's okay to share that with us and that as parents we NEED to know HOW to help them.

I see nothing wrong with rubbing his back until he dozes, I do this with my son on nights he has trouble falling asleep. Start with the source and find out what you can do to make it better for him. Work as a team and involve your husband in the routine so he knows everyone is there to help him through this tough time.

Good Luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

I haven't read any of the other Mom's request so I hope you find this helpful. In one of our Mommy and Me classes the teacher mentioned taking a spray bottle filled with water and lightly spraying the room with your son before he goes to bed. Tell him that it's an anti-monster spray and by spraying it all over the room it makes all the monsters and anything that scares him go away. I used it with my older one and it worked!



answers from Reno on

Hi C.,
I know how your son is feeling because I too had sleep anxiety when I was 10 years old. I had always been fearful of monsters under my bed and things like that, but then I became afraid to be the last one awake in the house. The anxiety of this alone is what I think kept me awake, sometimes I would make myself so upset I would puke! I slept with my 2 1/2 year older sister, but I was still scared. I would have her hold my hand and I would squeeze her hand and tell her to squeeze mine back if she was awake. I would sleep with my cat and shake him awake if he quit purring. My mom did not comfort me and it lasted for about a year and then I guess I got over it. Nothing traumatic had happened to me as some others have replied with. From a child's point of view I think I would have done a lot better if my mom would have taken the time to lay with me while I feel asleep. There is nothing more comforting than mom!! I hope this helps!
Good luck and God Bless!



answers from Los Angeles on

Could he be worried about the new school year? Kids often internalize their fears. Nightmares often comes with fear.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son has very scary dreams and he will at times ask to sleep in my room. I set him up on the floor next to my bed and he goes to sleep. I usually move him into his own better later on and he never questions it. I used to have scary dreams when I was little and they can be very vivid and stick with you all day. In fact, he doesn't even get scared again until nightfall so he's fine most of the day. What's a few nights sleeping in mom and dad's room worth compared to many fearful nights sleeping in your own room. Life is scary and I don't like sleeping alone either.



answers from Las Vegas on

Our daughter was terrified to sleep in her room and it turned out that she had an evil spirit hanging out in there that needed to be cast out. Some kids are very sensitive to spiritual things things that most of us can't see. I don't know if you believe in that kind of thing or not, but it might not hurt. You could also try blessing your house or having your son get a priesthood blessing.

You might also try asking him "why" he is afraid. Maybe there is something else going on in his life that has traumatized him. Maybe something that happened while you were at work that you don't know about....
Maybe he's just stressed out about going back to school.
Sometimes just talking things through with kids before bedtime and letting them tell you all of their worries will help them sleep better.



answers from San Diego on

Hello, First of all, let me say that maybe nothing has happened. However, something seems to be bothering your son. I don't want to scare or alarm you, but when our now grown son was starting kindergarten he went from a calm, easy going child to one that was upset and crying over nothing. He hated to go to bed and didn't want to eat his dinner. My brother and his two children (ages 10 and 7) had moved in with us. One day as I was cleaning up my family room I overheard a conversation my 10 year old niece was having with another child outside. It turned out that my niece had been molesting our 5 year old son. We took immediate action to get my niece out of our home (my brother and his son also went) and to try to convince my brother that she needed counseling. We worked with our doctor and our son and he was able to recover well. However, it did explain why he didn't want to sit at the table to eat. Because we had so many children at the table, we didn't eat with them. Our niece had been placing herself right next to our son. I couldn't have felt more guilty for not seeing the signs, but there they were. I would talk to your son and find out what is bothering him. It could just be that he had a scary nightmare and has to work through it.
Good luck with your precious family.
K. K.



answers from Los Angeles on

I don't have any personal experience in this area, but my little brother had sleep problems about this age when my parents would fight or right before the school year began.
Best of luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

My thoughts are your son may be having anxiety about starting school, being away from you, or may have a genuine fear of the night because of something he saw on TV. Letting him know that you are there for him and can help him feel secure again will not create a bad habit, it will create a happy and healthy person. Teaching him how to self soothe by being with him and putting him to sleep will eventually make him feel strong and confidant. And this time period won't last forever! Things always change. He will grow out of it!
Good luck!


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