paulshar01 asks:

10 year old, won't sleep and is becoming mean.

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.
In Topics: Parenting / Our Family, Sleep and rest, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Wayne Yankus
Jan 19, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

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

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Additional Answers (1)

Karenmom writes:
Hi paulshar01,

You have certainly been placed in a stressful situation.  I commend your efforts to help your sister and these children.

When I read this, what I visualize is children that has been through traumatic situations with uncertainty, insecurity and much emotional stress.  I'm not surprised that the eldest at 10 is beginning to lash out.  This is a lot for such a young child to cope with.  You mentioned that this has been going on for a few years, she may have had all she can take and has just reached her breaking point.

Children have a strong bond with their mother and you mention that she got out of bed many times while you were on the phone with her mother.  She had a reason for this, you mentioned that the child would say that she was scared.  This sounds like a cry to me, wanting to reach out and speak with her mother.  She may would have found comfort in hearing her mother's voice and know that her mother was safe and probably wanted some reassurance from her mother that she is still loved and wanted and hadn't been "thrown away".  Also, I can understand that your sister needed your support when she called you at 1 AM, but she must have known that this would interrupt your household and the children.  

It seems to me that is not a stable environment for these children to be in and yes, if you can, you should intervene and raise these children.  It may be for longer than a few months, it may come to a permanent situation because the emotional stress that these children are placed in deserves attention now.  You may want to consider complete custody and guardianship of these children.

You will have a long road ahead of you, first, you'll need to make the children feel secure and loved.  You will have to gradually build their trust and provide them a loving, stable environment.  It's not going to be easy and your sister is lucky to have you to help out.  These children are lucky to have you too.  I feel that you will have to set rules and boundaries with your sister to accomplish this.  

I recommend that you seek outside help, a family counselor or other professional that is equipped to help each of you through this process.  

Boys Town National Hotline is an official Partner.  Boys Town representatives work to provide expert advice to parents through  The Hotline number is 1-800-448-3000 and is available 24/7.

I know that this is not much help, but you will need more than just kind words in an on-line forum to work through this, please, find the help that you need and take care of yourself through the process because this could be draining on your emotions and health also.  I wish you all the best!
> 60 days ago

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