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5 Year old waking in middle of night

My boyfriend has 2 daughters (with the same mother), one of which lives with he and I in my apartment. The girl living with us just turned 5, and has seemed to adjust to the new situation relatively well aside from issues with sleeping (been with me for 2 months, and she had been living with Dad and sister for a year, sees Mom every other weekend)... She has positive reinforcement from both of us, she does VERY well in her new school, and her personality has begun to shine. There have not been any major behavioral issues, she is provided with honest answers as to the situation with her Mom and Dad and sister has changed. I work for a pre-school program, and practice parenting skills encouraging free spirit and creativity while maintaining respect for herself, the people and things around her... I am not too strict, but have much more structure and routine in the house than she is used to... With all that said, she has maintained a balanced transition... However, the past couple of weeks she has been waking in the middle of the night, (often times) crying and carrying on... Her Daddy works every other night, so some nights its just me, and others both of us are in the house... So that isn't an issue I think... She claims several different reasons for being awoken. Sometimes its thinking that someone is going to get into the apartment, sometimes its a "spider" on the wall, sometimes its thinking she hears people talking... We can calm her down sometimes, but then she usually will come back to wake us or start crying again within 20-30 minutes (sometimes less). We ask how we can help, and she always wants to go into the living room and watch TV... most of the time this helps, but other times she will continue to cry and scream for me, her Daddy, and sometimes her Mommy... I am not positive this is an issue of night terrors, or if this is behavioral and bordering on temper tantrum... We, begrudgingly, tried a tv in her bedroom, but that wasn't good enough (didn't have the right channels, which sent her crying for 45 minutes)... She has spent upwards of 3 hours crying and screaming in her bedroom at 3am before, to the point that I intervined so that she wouldnt make herself sick... Tried comforting, singing, reading new books, disciplining, letting her "cry it out", all to no avail... Hoping someone out there has some insight for a distraught Daddy and Step-Mom...
2 Responses
377493 tn?1356502149
Even though the adjustment has seemed to go well (and I commend you for how hard you are working at this...that is so great to hear), it's still a huge adjustment for a child that age.  I would think that time and patience are the answer, and lot's of reassurance.  My son was much younger when we moved into our new house..only 18 months old.  It took him quite a bit of time to adjust to his new room and the new home.  I think it's pretty normal.  There may also be some issues of jealousy where you are concerned.  She can still like you a great deal, but still...she is sharing her dad's time now, and there is a 4th person added to the family dynamic.  I wouldn't discipline her for it - I would just give it time and lots of love and reassurance.  
189897 tn?1441126518
COMMUNITY LEADER
   I agree with Adgal.  But, I don't think I would let her watch tv.  That can become a habit and it will not let her get back to sleep.  A big stuffed animal might help.  But typically I think you talk to her, reassure her, walk her back to her room and spend a bit of time with her.  You might want to look into night lights, etc.  But, eventually, you may have to just let her cry herself to sleep.  This could become a pattern that will go on forever.  But, I would certainly spend at least a few more weeks comforting her as this is a change for her.
   There is also a set of books aimed at kids of this age.  The "way I feel books".  You might want to buy some of them and read them to her when she wakes up and then talk about them a bit then and the next day.  Books like" When I Feel Sad" can be found here - http://www.amazon.com/When-Feel-Sad-Way-Books/dp/0807588997/ref=pd_sim_b_9
  and lots more titles if you scroll down.
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189897 tn?1441126518
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