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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Licensed Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  Certified Hypnotherapist, Parenting Book Author, 13+ years of experience.
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My boyfriends six year old granddaughter lives with him and

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My boyfriend's six year old granddaughter lives with him and "visits" her mother, who had her at 16. She is still having trouble sleeping through the night at either house. Many nights "Papa" wakes and finds her sleeping with him in the morning. There have been a couple trial times of living with her mother when she was younger. Now, she says she is fearful that "Papa" won't come and check on her and is fearful of being left at daycare, etc. Would you suggest counseling for the little girl or is there something else her grandpa can do?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Rossi replied 7 years ago.

Good Afternoon,


Her behavior sounds like it may be triggered by anxiety and is also attention seeking.


Counseling would be something to look into only if you and him are not able to remedy the situation.


You would want to find out- 1/ what may be her trigger for this behavior, has there ever been a time when there were no problems with sleep, does she have nightmares or night terrors, and if the day care situation is one of the main anxiety provoking triggers.


She should be able to articulate what is upsetting her. You may want to engage her in age appropriate play prior bed time (with dolls or hand puppets ) and pretend you are her and falling asleep. Then, change the version as to where she is you and is to tell you why sleeping is important.


She may also have attachment issues. That usually would decrease as she gets older. It would be important not to feed into her behavior though. That would only enable it further. Papa will have to set some clear limits with Lessie and follow through. You can help by engaging her and getting her to trust you. She may be able to articulate her worries/anxieties to you.


You can also use play to help her deal with her anxiety. Get a lavender mist spray and tell her that it has special powers (it wards of bad things during sleep, bad dreams etc) Spray it on her pillow at bed time and let her know that big girls don't run to Papa every time something happens. This may be caused by the moving from one place to another and if her bed time routines are different at each house.

Edited by Dr. Rossi on 7/21/2010 at 5:18 PM EST
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
She has expressed that she is afraid of monsters. Would you please clarify what you mean by setting "clear limits"? Do you mean at bed time? Day care doesn't seem to be any problem. She looks forward to it each day.