We've had our fost/adopt sibling group of 3 (ages 5,3, almost 2) home for 6 weeks now. All is going wonderful. Our biggest problem right now is our almost 2 year old little girl cries every night at bedtime STILL. No improvement. Foster mom told us she slept in a crib in her room and that she just laid her down and left. As hard as it has been, we have consistently done that. Last week I got desperate and tried rocking, nope. Still cried when I laid her down. She cries for about 20 minutes at naps and bedtime. Am I going about this wrong? I feel bad since she has been left home alone with toddler siblings as an infant and then lost mom and foster mom and Im sure this has a lot to do with it. Walking away just seems so cruel and apparently it isnt getting better. Wish I could put her in bed with me. :(
editted to add: I also posted this in the foster parent support section
Last update on September 1, 9:10 am by manyxblessed.
So things are better. Thanks guys! I've been putting on Kluv at naptime and at bedtime I sit on my bed while she falls asleep in her crib. No tears!
Last update on September 3, 11:36 am by manyxblessed.
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Yay! I'm happy she's doing better. MY FD is also 2 and it was really hard getting her to bed that first month, she's still hard to put to sleep at nap time. At first, she screamed bloody murder whenever I left the room so I did what has already been recommened, I laid on the floor beside her bed with my hand patting her back, or just on the bed beside her. Eventually we've gotten to a bedtime routine that does not require I accidentally fall asleep on the floor beside her bed, lol. I know I'll treasure these moment rocking her before bedtime. I know a regimented routine helps me. We do the same things in the same order at the same time every night and I have her warnings before we start the bedtime routine, she always protests when i giver her the warning, but she's ready when its time to actually start.
Good luck, I know things will continue to get better.
Ooh, also, she loves the music machine in her room. It, like, hypnotized her or something, although the effect seems to be wearing off now and she doesn't want to turn it on any more.
No matter how badly parents treat a child, children grieve when they are removed and placed in foster care. And if they are moved once again, they will grieve that loss as well. While the business of getting adjusted to a new routine often keeps the children busy during the daytime, the quieter nighttime hours often give the child time to think about their past life, and to grieve for parents or past caregivers. If the nighttimes were scary in their past home(s), the grief may also be mixed with fear -- fear of grownups yelling at each other, fear of physical or sexual abuse, fear that they will need help and no one will come, and so on. Hypervigilance -- the feeling that they must be constantly on alert for what might happen, even at night, is very common in foster and adopted children.
Difficulty going to bed, falling asleep, and staying asleep should be considered normal with children who are newly adopted or being fostered by a new family. And letting the children "cry it out" should not be considered an acceptable way to help them get over it. Whether it takes a week, a month, or even a year, the new parents/foster parents will need to do whatever it takes to help the children learn that their new home is safe, and that someone will always be watching over them and ready to help them.
Developing a set bedtime routine is important, and it often needs to begin at least a few hours beforehand. After dinner, for example, limit activities that can be too stimulating or that could be upsetting. As an example, TV, computer games, video games, and so on should be turned off. There are just too many images -- some that may seem benign to us -- that can be scary for a child. My daughter, when a preschooler, always had nightmares when she played the totally innocent "Freddi Fish" computer game before bedtime; those nice fish turned into monsters. And, of course, reports of shootings, wars, gang activities, kidnappings, and so on should be avoided. Encourage children to play quiet games, to look at their books, do a simple craft, finish homework, etc., instead of wrestling with siblings, practicing dance moves, or running around outdoors.
At a certain time, let kids know that they will start their nighttime routine in a few minutes. Help them put away their toys and then begin the process. For little children, it may begin with a sit-down session in the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet or potty, possibly with a book or toy -- it can even be a book about using the potty, with Mom or Dad doing the reading -- can help the child relax and get into the habit of having a bowel movement before bedtime. It also helps to prevent the scenario in which a young child poops in the tub -- YUK!
After using the toilet, bathtime is usually next, for the young children. (Older ones may prefer a morning shower to help them start their day, instead of an evening bathtime.) Bathtime is great for relaxing the hypervigilant child, especially if he/she can have some time to play with bath toys, or if you sing to him/her while washing him/her, etc. If shampoos upset your child, try a shampoo visor, or don't shampoo quite as often. Dry the child with a nice fluffy towel, and let him/her decide between two sets of pajamas -- for example, the yellow ones or the green ones.
A time for Mom and Dad to read with a child is great, right before bedtime. Little children will often demand the same story every night -- like "Good Night, Moon", which my daughter adored. There are a lot of nice adoption related books from which to choose, if they are appropriate to your particular situation -- as an example, "Through Moon and Stars and Night Sky" for internationally adopted children. But the book doesn't have to be about adoption. In fact, it doesn't have to be about going to bed, although bedtime books are terrific. Some kids love stories that are a bit silly, like "Good Night, Gorilla", about the gorilla that lets all the animals out of their cages at the zoo, by pilfering the zookeeper's keys -- twice. And there are also books that have only pictures, but that have a clear story line, like the "Good Dog, Carl" series, in which a very sweet Rottweiler babysits, and dog and baby get into all sorts of messy adventures, like baking cookies, but clean up and are settled back in their beds when Mom returns home. Books of this sort are great for encouraging children to practice speaking and sequencing a story.
If you are a religious family, getting Mom, Dad, and children to say prayers together is a nice final event before lights out. I said a certain set of prayers, in Hebrew and English, with my daughter every night from the time she was in China till she was almost out of elementary school. One just reaffirmed our belief in one God, but the other said, "Into Your hands I place my spirit, when I wake and when I sleep. My spirit and my body also. God is with me and I am not afraid." It's a nice prayer for some children, because it helps them feel safe. I also put a framed prayer for daughters over her bed, and it's still there, now that she is 20 and in college.
And, of course, then comes a big hug and kiss from Mom and Dad -- doggy and kitty, too, perhaps -- and lights out. Hopefully, the relaxing pace of the evening will help the child fall asleep very quickly. I would also encourage the use of one or more stuffed animals as comfort objects. My daughter still, when feeling sad, will hold a favorite stuffed animal, especially at night.
But if sleep doesn't come, there are alternatives. Leaving a small nightlight on is good for kids who are afraid of the dark. Conversely, in months when it is still light when a child goes to bed, lined curtains may be needed to avoid TOO MUCH light that keeps a child awake. Some kids like a music box that plays a familiar tune, or a small portable tape player; others, however, may be kept awake by it. A white noise machine works for many hypervigilant children, as it shuts out sounds that a child may strain to hear. There are also tapes of gentle sounds like rain or the ocean that work for some kids. Children who believe in monsters may need to make a quick round of the room, spraying scented water from a perfume atomizer or spray bottle labeled Monster Spray into the closet, under the bed, and into the air to keep the critters at bay.
If these things don't work, there's no harm in changing sleeping arrangements. With the littlest ones, there's nothing wrong with moving the child's crib into your room for a while, or with putting the crib mattress onto the floor next to your bed, and letting the child sleep there. He/she will often feel a lot more secure if he/she is near you -- and if you shut your door and use a device on the knob to keep little kids from opening it and roaming the house, you will have him/her near you without worrying about his/her safety. With scared older children, give them each a sleeping bag that they can bring into your room and spread out on the floor, if necessary. Of course, you can also sleep in the child's room for a few hours, if you wish to keep your bedroom as a place for only you and your spouse, but my sense is that you probably won't sleep as well.
Some kids will transition back to their own beds in a few days, or use your bedroom only if they have a nightmare. Others may be in your room for a year or more. Remember that many adopted or foster children have never had a bedroom of their own, and feel more comfortable if they know that other people are present. .
Many children, both those raised by the parents that bore them and those being raised by another family, have night terrors. If they occur between, approximately, ages one and six, they are not usually a sign of stress, and the child is usually not even aware of them. They are simply problems with transitioning between one stage of sleep and another. The body goes through a cycle of different types of sleep all night long, but for some little kids, it doesn't always happen smoothly in the first several years of life. Doctors believe that night terrors are genetic, and closely related to sleepwalking. If your child has night terrors, there's a good chance that his/her birthparents had them too, as children, and that they may also sleepwalk occasionally.
With a night terror, you will see the child begin to thrash about in his/her sleep, often getting sweaty and red-faced. He/she may groan loudly, cry out, or even say a few words; the sounds may be very different from his/her normal cries or speaking voice. Many children will actually open their eyes, but they really can't see you, and they don't know that you are there. In some cases, they may do things that normally occur in wakefulness, such as drinking water from a sippy cup or bottle, without any conscious awareness of doing them. (Basically, it's similar to what happens when sleeping pills cause an adult to have a problem with transitioning between stages of sleep, and cause them to do things like driving or eating a whole meal while totally unaware of their actions.)
While your initial reaction may be to rush to your child and pick him/her up, that's not the best strategy, as you will usually just prolong the night terror. The child will not recognize you, and may actually try to get away from you, because he/she is stilll asleep and dreaming. And trying to awaken him/her may be difficult or may upset him/her greatly. You may be better off checking that nothing is wrong -- for example, that he/she is not tangled in the bed linens or that his/her foot is not caught in the crib rails -- and then just sitting nearby and waiting. for the night terror to end. You could actually go back to bed, though your "Mom" or "Dad" sense probably won't let you. Rubbing the child's back gently won't really help, but may make you feel better. And the night terror WILL end, usually in a few minutes, though occasionally in a half hour or more. The child will generally not awaken, but will gradually ease back into a normal sleep pattern.
Unlike with a nightmare, the child will have no recollection of the event, the next day, and may get upset if you tell him/her what he/she did, denying it vociferously. There will be no awareness of a bad dream or anything that may make him/her more reluctant than usual to go to bed the next night. It's perfectly OK not to tell him/her about the night terror.
There is no "cure" for night terrors. Most parents will tell you, however, that you can lessen their frequency by sticking to a very strict bedtime and naptime schedule, and keeping the child from getting overtired and overstimulated. (Yes, though less common, night terrors CAN occur at naptime; my daughter sometimes had them.) If the child has a lot of night terrors, and is no longer in a crib, be aware that sleepwalking is a possibility, and consider ways of protecting him/her from harm if he/she wanders, now or when older. If.night terrors persist beyond age six or so, you may want to consult your pediatrician, as night terrors persisting in an older child or adult are often a result of trauma, and psychological help may be needed. Sleepwalking, however, is not usually a sign of psychic trauma.
Just remember that night terrors are not nightmares, which are totally different. Nightmares in children and adults ARE generally caused by some form of emotional stress, mild or severe. When someone is actually having a nightmare, you won't know it; the person looks as if he/she is sleeping quietly. It is only when the person wakes up and begins crying or acting upset that you will be aware of it. In the case of a child who awakens screaming from a nightmare, you DO want to go to him/her immediately and give a lot of comfort. The child IS awake. If verbal, he/she CAN tell you what the nightmare was about, and you can reassure him/her that it was only a dream, and not real. The child may fight going back to sleep, out of fear that the monster or whatever will reappear in his/her dreams. He/she may also fight going to bed the next night, for the same reason. If a child is very upset, bringing him/her into your room to sleep, or allowing the child to sleep with a light on, may be a good idea. Also, taking a brief "break" to have a cup of cocoa and a cookie may help to settle a child down. While all of us have occasional nightmares, people of all ages who have them frequently may need to consult a mental health professional to attempt to reduce their level of stress.
Parenting a child with sleep issues, whether biological, adopted, or foster, is not easy. If you have a spouse or partner, try to share the burden. It's not helpful, when you have a screaming child, to have a spouse who says, "Can't you keep him/her quiet? I have to go to work tomorrow." Perhaps you can sleep in your child's room one night, and your spouse can do it the next. Or perhaps you will find that your child wants Mommy when he/she is first falling asleep, but it's Daddy who can do a better job of dealing with the child when he/she awakens from a nightmare. It doesn't matter whether one parent works outside the home and the other does not. The partner who is at home is also working, and darn hard work it is; both parents need to participate in helping the child feel secure now and learn to sleep independently later, so that everyone eventually gets enough sleep. Singles like me, alas, can't share the burden, but somehow, even the singles will survive, especially if they don't try to be Martha Stewart, and occasionally nap when their child does, forgetting about the housework. (Believe me, while I'm tidy enough to keep the Board of Health away, Martha Stewart would not set foot in my house.)
Last update on November 25, 4:06 pm by Sharon Kaufman.
I can relate to this problem as my sister's son cried every night at bedtime. She just changed the mattress and few other sleeping arrangements. She bought natural latex mattresses that resulted in providing better sleep. As Sharon Kaufman said, changing sleeping arrangements can lower down this problem. I also believe that it can lead in providing excellent sleep.
Last update on August 7, 11:20 am by megera39.
My daughter cried and screamed for almost 3 months when she came to live with me at 3 years old.
I sat by her bed, without a computer, or a phone, or a book, I just sat, and I listened.
It's not something most people talk about, but in my daughter's cries, I heard the pain she was in from moving, and I knew that she couldn't stay in the home she was in, so while she was grieving the loss of what felt like a parent to her, she was also screaming about the terrible things that had happened, so I listened.
It was hard on my daughter to go to bed. I believe it was the time of day where she could not avoid her feelings, so they came out loudly.
I didn't pick my daughter up, because she was working through her pain, and I knew that when she wanted to sit with me, she would do that, and so I sat.
About 10 weeks into the placement, she was crying and screaming and then got out of bed and climbed into my lap.
I know it's hard to hear a child's pain, but I also know that being there with a child, while they are feeling that pain, matters.
My daughter and I are very close, and given that she was passed around to many family members for the first 3 years of her life,
that's kind of a miracle, and I believe that letting her have her feelings, and letting her choose when to let go of her past, helped her heal, and helped her choose to let me be her mommy.
Only years later were my daughter and son able to put into words, the horrible abuses they suffered.
Crying has a purpose. Sitting with a child that's crying at night has worked for me, to get them to bed, and to be there for them, so they know they are not alone.