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Why is my child nowadays scared to sleep alone?

Q: :I am a working woman with a 8 AM to 8 PM schedule. My 4 years old son has been sleeping in a separate room for past 6 months but nowadays he cries and then vomits in his bed if I try to put him to bed. I then have to take him to our bedroom. He is otherwise a happy child. How do I tackle this? Is this just transitional.

A:There is not enough detail in your report for me to identify the cause of the child's discomfort or the treatment for it. Since the child is looked after by others for 12 hours in the day, they will be able to tell you if there has been any event or episode that has upset the child in the last few days. Since he must have developed speech, you could talk to him. A direct question may not be easy for the child to answer, but patience and time may reveal the specific problem. Painting, drawing, clay work, sand play etc will relax the child enough to make him express some of his fears. Why don't you give yourself and the child a treat, by taking a day off from work and spending it with him? If you are leaving him in the care of a maid or ayah, can you ensure that they are gentle, kind and NOT abusive with him? This is very important to know. If he attends a Nursery School, how does he like the experience? What does the teacher say? Is he watching TV while you are away? The violence and obscenity on TV can be upsetting even to adults. Who are his playmates? Take your time to find out these and other facts. If as you say, he is a happy child, what is it that makes him unhappy? Most children problems may be transitory, but they are problems while they last. Do keep in mind that children do long for some attention from both parents. The child is trying to communicate some distress to you and wants the security of your presence at night. At least reassure him of your love and support and let him gradually become more independent. Be gentle and tender in dealing with him, rather than rule-quoting and strict. After his problem has been located, please remember that he is only 4 years old and needs warm, affectionate adult support for several years to grow into a happy adult.


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