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I would like to help you with your question.
I can understand your thought process wondering if this is a true cry for help...or a case of attention seeking. Absolutely..you would not want to make a mistake by ignoring this...
At the same time, you want to teach your 7 year old that you hear her, you see her, and that your number one job is to ensure that she is safe and sound.
Thus, I would make an appointment with her pediatrician for an evaluation. Be clear when talking to the physician about what is happening, including when the sleep issue started, what her prior history of sleeping was, if there have been any changes in her life (especially stress), and if she has been experiencing any other difficulties (for example...school performance, stomach ailments, disagreements with friends).
As you are feeling anxious, I encourage you to make this appointment as soon as possible. Your worry about this is not good for your health either!
At the same time, I want to suggest a very good book that will be beneficial:
Parenting with Love and Logic by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay
please see: www.loveandlogic.com
Being a parent is the hardest work any of us do. We want to make the "right" decisions..and sometimes it's not easy to determine what is the correct action.
Because your daughter is threatening to harm herself, the right choice is really to have her evaluated.
I await your response.
I am going to contact the doctor this morning. I just wonder if a seven year old truly understands the concept of killing themselves or if its a phrase that she had heard and tried and saw that it had a response from me.
At 7 years old she likely does not understand the finality of death. She may think that death means involves ending something...but she likely cannot grasp the reality that it is forever and there is no coming back.
She also is unlikely to be able to grasp what it would take to actually put a knife in her brain. That would take tremendous physical effort. In any case, there would be real pain and tat
that's also something she can't appreciate.
I do think you are right...she likely has picked up this language and scenario from a book or tv or hearing other kids talk. And she knows full well that you are going to react.
The one way to stop manipulation - if we want to call it that - is to call her bluff. Meaning...you treat this seriously by taking her to the physician. If she is experiencing emotional pain...fine...you will now have a medical professional assisting you in getting her the help she needs. If she is bluffing...fine...she has learned that you will take immediate action when you believe she is in jeopardy of hurting herself and will not simply give in to her wishes. Having to see her physician about a made up incident will help teach her the consequences of bluffing and manipulation.
I await your reply.