Children experiencing nighttime anxiety
One of my recent clients Aaliyah (age 6) was having trouble sleeping at night, suffering with bad dreams and anxiety about kidnappers and burglars and bad guys. She could not sleep alone any length of time without being with her mum. This was a persistent fear had been going on for a while, her mum had tried just about everything she could think of but nothing seemed to work. Night after night, Aaliyah would have trouble going to sleep or wake up with bad dreams and anxious thoughts. Needless to say both Aaliyah and her mum were in need of a good night’s sleep.
Aaliyah’s mum got in touch with me, and of course I was happy to help. The technique that I worked on with Aaliyah and her mum was the Brooks technique; Essentially it is a form of mindfulness that works by keeping somebody present and in the moment so that their mind doesn’t wander. In Aaliyah’s case we used the phrase ‘this brain is having a thought’ she would say this to herself whenever she recognized that she was worrying or scared. This technique is also a form of non-attachment; what that means is, when someone says something to us or we experience something, we create the emotions and attach them to that experience. We used the technique to help Aaliyah recognize that she is in control of the feelings that she creates and we were able to detach her emotions from the event or experience that caused her to have these anxious thoughts.
I also received a message from Aaliyah when she heard about the blog post:
“Stephen, thank you so much for the session you had with my daughter Aaliyah.She has always struggled with sleeping all night in her own bed for long periods of time, wanting to sleep with me.
I had tried everything as a trainee therapist myself and I felt depleted & defeated! Within a few days of seeing you, she started sleeping all night, using the phrase ‘this brain is having a thought’ when she feels scared…. And we both now enjoy a full night’s sleep! Thank you!”
Hayley (Aaliyah’s mum)