This is an update to a prior post in which I wrote about our attempts to help our anxious child sleep in his own bed the whole night. For years Chase would sneak into our room while we were asleep and lie down on the floor to fall asleep. He has always had phobias of the dark and what might lurk there in. After years of therapy, sleep studies, and medication that did not help him to accomplish sleeping in his own room, we hired a therapist named David Shobe to come to our house and use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with us. I will tell you that I was skeptical but hopeful at the same time. After all, we had tried almost everything else. With age Chase was experiencing problems with attention in school and problems socially due to his inability to get enough sleep.
David asked us to develop a chart with days of the week on it. We began by asking Chase to spend time in his room with the door shut for five minutes at a time and then gradually increased the time. Each time he was able to accomplish part of the goal without panicking, we would put a sticker on the chart and after he earned five stickers he got a reward. In the beginning it was tough. There were times when Chase would escalate to the point of throwing things at his door because he was so scared. Having David as our coach made my husband and I feel more confident that we were helping our child and Chase was able to hate the therapist instead of us. This was important to us because Chase was sensitive and believed that if we were asking him to do something that was incredibly scary for him, we must not love him. Having David as our coach allowed us to say that we were following doctors orders to help him.
As Chase’s time in his room began to increase without panic and we were able to maintain our firm stance, Chase began to get used to being alone in his room at night. He began to gain confidence in his ability to succeed at staying in his room and coping with his fear. After two months he was still practicing and improving we had one or two successful nights where he was able to stay in his room for the whole night. The rewards increased with the accomplishments. Chase earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do and then a few days later he said, “I’m a black belt now. I can do this.” Something finally clicked and right before Christmas Chase slept five nights in his room by himself. We were thrilled! He had finally done it. He has continued to sleep in his own room ever since.
Sleeping in his own room has dramatically increased Chase’s confidence. He said, “Mom, I don’t ever want to sleep on your floor again.”