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How to make my 13 yr old girl go to sleep?

Hi Mark,

I have purchased your e-guide online parenting techniques and I have applied some of your methods. Though it is difficult to do at first without being angry and not reacting to my 13 yr old daughter rebellious act, but I must say she has improved slowly. Thanks for the guidance!

I would never thought of talking to her in a calmer way before. I was always angry at her when she didn't want to go to school and when she stays up way late at night sometime doesn't even have a wink and she decided to sleep during the day made me even furious. Every action she made, I responded with my anger and hence she branded me as the "Lady nagger of the house". I do deserve that name-calling, now that I realized my mistakes was not able to communicate effectively with her and not being able to express and explain things when I should have.

I'm a single mom. The care & control is given to my ex husband for both of my children. My daughter had a fall out with him and they had quite a big fight and as a result of that she ran away from her dad's place and lives with me since April this year. Although he strongly disapproved of her decision at first but he consent it verbally at the end citing that he will not want to have any part of her upbringing from then on and he told that in front of my daughter. It was sick of him not being able to be diplomatic at all in his choice of words or actions and for a child to hear that I can't even imagine... That was done and I know that it was terrible for my daughter to hear that first hands but I told her that he didn't mean to say that at all and every parent do love their children unconditionally no matter how big and bad the problem is. He was angry and he didn't know any better when he said that. That was my only explanation to her and I guess it didn't sit well on her. She has a low self-esteem due to what her father had said or treated her. Like calling her a prostitute when she sneaked away from home at night to meet her boyfriend then. She was blamed by her dad as the instigator for his Girlfriend to leave for her hometown...Just too much for a 13 yr old! I know it is hard for her and to be honest it was quite hard for me as well adjusting in the beginning. I was working then and I made a decision to quit my job.
She took medications more than she was prescribed by her Child Psychiatrist as she was diagnosed having depressions and anxiety attacks. I've decided to switch the previous psychiatrist to the Hospital Child Psychiatrist specialist where she was treated for the over dose and she's no longer given any medications at all now. She still does have mood swings now and then and are unable to sleep at night. I have spoken to my daughter psychiatrist about this and he suggested to change her sleeping pattern by trying to go to bed earlier than her usual bed time. My daughter bedtime is actually at 10.30pm and he suggested that she should make an effort to be in bed by 10pm instead. I've tried making her to go to bed by 10 and even lie down with her to make her sleep and read books with her and she still can't sleep. I'm just wondering if you have any advice on how to make my 13 yr old girl to sleep? Anything would help!

With my best wishes and deep thanks,



Hi S.,

Anxiety (which is often brought on by a stressful event) is probably the most common cause of difficulty falling asleep. This is called "stress-related insomnia." It is a self-limited problem that usually resolves over several weeks (sometimes several months). It does not tend to turn into chronic insomnia. It might be helpful to reassure your daughter that it is normal to have difficulty falling asleep after a stressful life event, and that she can expect her situation to improve over the next several weeks. 

Times like this are trying for parents. We don't want our children to experience pain, much less to help them embrace pain. But what an honor it is to be able to help our children face the truly difficult issues of life, and grow into mature, well-adjusted adults.
Your daughter can help herself in the following ways:
  • Avoid caffeine intake which can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation
  • Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco
  • Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way
  • Decrease negative self-talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. "My life will never get better” can be transformed into "I may feel hopeless now, but my life will probably get better if I work at it and get some help”
  • Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways: ("I feel angry when you yell at me”… "Please stop yelling.”)
  • Exercise and eat regularly
  • Learn practical coping skills. For example, break a large task into smaller, more attainable tasks
  • Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques)
  • Learn to feel good about doing a competent or "good enough” job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others
  • Rehearse and practice situations which cause stress. One example is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious
  • Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress


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