Hello, my sister has asked me take her daughter for a few months. She is 10 and mom admits she did meth for the first 5 months of pregnacy. Taylor, has become a very serious bully, like last night, punched her 7 yr old brother in the face. My sister call me at 1 a.m. destressed. Taylor refuses to sleep at night, now she insist her brothers be with her, my sister has tried everything. While we talked she got up at least 10 times, each time saying she is scared. My sister is not being allowed to sleep, her husband is starting to get mad. The whole house is effected. This has been going on for a few years and has reached it's boiling point. What could be causing this sort of problem with this 10 yr old. And should I take her, would this help to get her out of the situation for a while? Thank you.
While mom's drug use during pregnancy may have not helped this situation (we know cocaine use begets ADHD in some kids), I would not totally blame it. Start by talking with her pediatrician or medical home about strategy to change this sleep behavior. Next consult a mental health worker through your town clinic or hospital or doctor's office. This situation requires the family to be educated and buy into a plan. You need to find out why she is scared. Or is it just manipulation. Have a sleep plan i.e. who gets up with her, who puts her down, and what rules about sleep you will impose.
Best wishes and good for you for helping.
Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics