Ask Dr. Jean: Anxiety and Sleep


(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

Our son has an obsession with feeling our skin? He was never cuddly until after our house burned down. Now he won’t sleep without touching one of us. Is this okay? He also won’t sleep on his own? He’s 4.

Any suggestions? He has anxiety as well.


In Case You Missed It - Ask Dr. Jean
(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

One of the things I’ve learned as a child psychiatrist for 30 years AND mum of five kids is every behaviour has a reason. Your little one has a need to be close to you that he is clearly expressing by touching you. It seems to me that it is giving him reassurance that you won’t go away or let anything bad happen.

The fact that it started after him losing his sense of connection to a house, and the world being scary, makes lots of sense to me. Follow his lead in terms of what he needs and asks for. As he gets a little older you can help him identify his fears and anxieties and help him to develop strategies to become the BOSS of those feelings too.

We need to recognize that anxiety is a natural way of our body telling us to be on guard, something is not sitting right and that it is not all bad. IT becomes problematic when it starts to take over and inhibits trying new things or doing daily activities. Unlike some, I wouldn’t worry about him sleeping with you as long as you are not smokers, drinkers or abusing drugs and it is something you agree is OK as a couple. Again as he gets a little older in the next 6 months to a year you can gradually encourage him to sleep in his own big boy bed. SLEEP will be another post.