Bedtime shenanigans - who is right, us or DD?

(50 Posts)
chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 11:52:16

We’re trying to get DD(12) in bed at a decent time at the moment as she’s a complete pain in the backside at going to bed at a reasonable time. She always has been since she was born.

She reads in bed for ages every night but when we tell her to turn her light off at 9pm, she has a myriad of excuses why she can’t; needs to finish the chapter, has to feed the gerbils, needs to go to the toilet. We give her a 15 minute warning to do these things, then a 5 minute warning, but then there’s a lot a messing around which can go on until after 10pm. This is annoying for us as we can’t settle, watch Homeland telly and if we don’t keep on top of it and keep telling her to go to bed, she’d still be awake until after we went to bed. This is an issue because we have to peel her out of bed in the morning and she does suffer from the lack of sleep.

So… inspired by Divas and Doorslammers, we are removing a minute from the following night’s reading time for each minute she messes around after she’s been told to turn her light off. But I’ve got myself a bit confused with the logistics of this.

For example, with this sanction in mind, on Tuesday night she messed around and finally settled at 9.21pm. So she was told she would have to turn her light off at 8.39pm on Wednesday night.

Last night she put up a lot of resistance to this and whilst she wasn’t able to read from 8.39pm last night, we had to remove the light from her room as she kept turning it back on and she still messed around and finally settled at 9.12pm.

She says she should only lose 12 minutes of reading time tonight as her lights off time is usually 9pm. But we say she should lose 33 minutes as she was supposed to settle at 8.39pm and didn’t.

Which one do you think?

DD is a master of loophole finding and maximising situations to her advantage, so whilst on the one hand we’re fairly happy to go with her method as she has agreed to it, we have a sneaking suspicion that she has found a loophole that means she’s not as penalised as we think she is. But then we can’t work out if that matters as last night she did settle at 9.12pm compared to 9.21pm the previous night. confused

Help! Who is right, us or DD?

LillianGish Thu 07-Nov-13 17:16:50

I think if you want her in bed for nine and she went 12 minutes over then 12 minutes should come off.
I have a 12-year-old who also faffs around at bedtime so I am reading this thread with interest (attempts watch Homeland struck a chord grin). We also aim for in bed at 9pm - so all faffing (teeth cleaning, getting a drink, packing schoolbag) has to be completed by that time. I am, however, happy for her to read quietly in bed after that as I could never get to sleep without reading first. I do slightly agree with Starballbunny, some days she isn't home from school until 6pm and usually has lots of homework so I think it is fair enough that she needs to unwind before she goes to sleep, but I don't think an open ended bedtime is the answer. I prefer to aim for in bed and quiet at 9 (sometimes it's a bit later) and then calm, sleep inducing reading after that. Trying to nail her to precisely 9pm would be self-defeating for everyone - we'd be up and down stairs checking light was off (so couldn't watch Homeland) and she'd be back to square one in terms of settling every time we came up.

LillianGish Thu 07-Nov-13 17:23:53

Just saw your post Poltergoose - very succinctly put. I think it is the requirement of quiet, non-interaction that does the trick - it enables the child to realise that they are tired. Constant nagging about putting the light off only steels the resolve to stay awake longer!

Sparrowghost Thu 07-Nov-13 17:24:10

I had a 7pm bedtime until I was a teen then it got moved to 8.30pm with a LOT of arguing, and I was expected to sleep, or at least lights off/no reading/no getting up from them, regardless if I was tired or not.
As an adult, my sleep is shocking. I often can't cope on less then 9hrs solid sleep, and regularly sleep 12 hours+ in a chunk if I can. I still "rebel" when tired and will fight sleep until 2,3am and then struggle to get up, or I swing into total insomnia and have days where I can't sleep. I honestly blame my mum for this - I was never allowed to "learn" when I was tired

curlew Thu 07-Nov-13 17:30:40

Have you tried audio books? Lying in bed in the dark not sleeping is awful. Lying in bed in the dark listening to an audio book is lovely.

I have a 12 year old, by the way, and I do my best to have him asleep by 9.30 at the latest. He has a very full on life and needs to be asleep by then. Can't believe the 12.00 people!

Nataleejah Thu 07-Nov-13 17:52:45

To my 9yo DS bed is a mortal enemy. He says he hates sleeping.
Oh well...
The only thing that works is when everybody in the house goes to bed together. Because he certainly can't sleep if anybody else is running around, or heavens forbid, having fun.

I'd be happy if he was staying up reading, but he doesn't like to read sad

SeeJaneWin Thu 07-Nov-13 17:54:40

To answer the specific question, you should probably go with 12 minutes, otherwise it might get a bit absurd within a few days. Say you take 33 mins and she messes about until 9.20pm because she's just not tired, you'll be turning the lights off at 8.07pm tomorrow night and so on.

We're being much stricter than before with our reception age DC because of getting up early for school. But I am pretty happy that bedtime has gone in the right general direction as a result, than the specific minute the lights go off. Sounds like you are too from your last paragraph. But stay firm with the 9pm... give them an inch and they'll take a mile grin

chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 20:34:57

I have gone with 12 mins as DD seems to be able to understand the connection between that and what's coming off her reading time. So lights out tonight at 8.48pm.

She is currently wafting around the house and seems unconcerned that her light's going out in 15 minutes and she hasn't started reading yet. hmm

Nataleejah Thu 07-Nov-13 21:11:25

Next thing she will be doing is take a flashlight to bed.

kickassangel Fri 08-Nov-13 16:40:14

Do you ever use a timer for her? e.g. set it to 30 mins at 8.30, so she can see the minutes ticking by?

We do that sometimes leading up to bed time, or often for homework, so she gets more sense of how long she has for things. Time is a very subjective and slippery thing, even for very organized people.

chicaguapa Fri 08-Nov-13 19:58:09

She doesn't like time counting down. She gets worked up by it and it detracts from what she's supposed to be doing. But she doesn't have a very good concept of time, so we are trying to make her aware by seeing the connection between the time she goes over and what will come off the next day.

Last night, she turned her light off at 8.48pm. Much fuss and tantrums. I had to remove the lamp again and then she went quiet. I went to check on her and she was reading by the light from the landing. hmm But because I'd checked on her at 9, she didn't go over her normal bedtime so according the new rules, she hasn't lost any reading time tonight. And then she went to sleep.

We didn't know how to deal with her reading when she wasn't supposed to, even though she did actually go to sleep at 9pm anyway, which was the goal. Because it was disobedient and against the rules. So we decided to let her have all her reading time tonight (because she went to sleep at 9) but she lost her DS for the evening as the consequence for the disobedience.

It just gets so complicated and you can see why we try to have a crystal ball to allow for all the eventualities. confused

gourd Fri 08-Nov-13 20:00:15

I go to bed at 9pm usually, 9:30 at weekends sometimes but the last two weeks 8:30 due to illness. I cannot imagine letting our kids stay up till the same time or later than me- as it is I only get 30 minutes after our child is in bed before I go to bed myself. I guess of depends what time you get up though. We are up eating breakfast at 6.

kickassangel Sun 10-Nov-13 02:44:11

Can she gain an extra 5 mins for Fri night for each weekday she is in bed with lights out etc at 9? So there is an incentive as well as a punishment?

Sounds like you are doing OK

MiniMonty Sun 10-Nov-13 03:23:38

Babe, get real - if you set up a situation of minutes here and minutes there you have put in place something which can be negotiated - traded almost - what a farce. Who is in charge here ?

At 12yrs bedtime should not be a negotiation of any kind. But OF COURSE any canny twelve year old will negotiate ruthlessly if the chance to do that is offered. Cut out the nonsense of buying and selling minutes and just set a strict no bullshit bedtime.

The sanction if there is any fuss at bedtime is "no Tv for a week" or no (whatever she goes for - PSP, Nintendo, Barbie videos on the computer - whatever).

"Fuck me around at bedtime and you lose out BIG TIME" is something that children VERY quickly come to understand if you use (and stick by) the sanction only once or twice.

Bedtime crap can be cured over TWO nights with a ruthless and completely strict approach. It doesn't turn you into EVIL MUMMY - it makes you in to what you wanted to be before this nonsense started - a good parent who has her the in bed at the right time every night (which is good for them).

It's wise to include a twelve year old in family decisions, to make her feel like she is growing up and turning into something other than a child - to make her that her opinion counts and that she has a role in the world which is bigger than "just do as you're told".
But bedtime is not and cannot be part of these conversations. Because that's an area where the adults in the house must have an absolute authority (and that's a very short conversation that can be had)...

Good luck with a canny twelve year old but remember, you are not in partnership with your children, you are leading them and although the crown sometimes sits heavy, you ARE in charge.

Jenijena Sun 10-Nov-13 04:40:53

A couple of things spring to mind ...No idea if they will work but?

If she is so bad at getting up in the morning, and you want to do the minutes thing, can you do it then? 'Oh you're obviously tired, so given that its taken you 10 minutes to get out if bed, you'll be going to bed 20 minutes earlier this evening'

The second is a compromise... If she stays in bed (no feeding the gerbil/sorting out stuff) then she is allowed ?10 minutes reading time, but if she sets foot out of bed, lights off?

Pennythedog Sun 10-Nov-13 08:33:53

Difficulty falling asleep is a big problem for kids with ASD. My son also has problems. He just can't seem to switch off at night and he complains a lot that he can't sleep. To be honest I had problems when I was a kid too. I always had dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep.

With my son we have had to have a strict no electronics policy after dinner. No TV, no games. Routine is really necessary. Before bed he has a drink, he brushes his teeth, goes for a wee and has a story, so there are no excuses for him to get up again.

I think you will have more luck with looking for strategies for kids with ASD as the problems are quite specific.

ratqueen Sun 10-Nov-13 18:39:43

At twelve I went to bed at ten because of a hobby. Bed by nine with time to wind down in her own time sounds lovely (cf swimming eighty lengths before bed!) I'd leave her to it.

Hotbot Sun 10-Nov-13 18:57:46

Mini, completely agree, of course I only have a 3yr old and a 7 yr old,and they are challenging enough.

chicaguapa Sun 10-Nov-13 20:54:10

Obviously everyone has their own methods for dealing with unwanted behaviour and for eliciting the desired behaviour. Some are saying let her choose her own bedtime, you can't make her do anything, you're cruel. And some are saying put your foot down you pansy. grin

I absolutely take on board that we should look at techniques for ASD as we had a supernanny type person working with us when DD was younger to help sort out her behaviour and sleep, and she admitted defeat and couldn't make any difference at all. hmm So we sort of have an idea now what DD does and doesn't respond to. And DS is so much more textbook and I can see how any of what has been suggested might work with him.

This particular method was suggested in Divas and Door slammers for hard cases, which DD is, and there was something about it that made us feel DD would respond well to it. I think it's the point that there is always something for her to gain by settling down, whatever the time is. We used to get caught in a situation where eventually she'd got the punishment (ie lost telly the next day) and therefore she'd may as well keep doing the crime,. So then we'd have to either give her a second punishment or give her an incentive to settle by rescinding the punishment if she went to bed. Then of course she'd have messed about for an hour with essentially no consequence. blush

But now it's still always worth her while to stop messing about and there's a direct relationship between the time she wastes and what she loses from her reading time. I think she recognises that she's borrowing time from the following evening and that it's only her that's missing out.

It seems to be working so far. She feels she has control over the outcome, by turning her light off at the time we've set. Since she managed to get it back to 9pm on Friday night, she's managed not to lose any reading time and has settled every night. And she's not lying awake for hours. She has been a lot happier for it and I wonder if she doesn't realise herself that she feels better for getting more sleep.

But we mustn't get complacent as that's when she spies a chink in the armour and it all goes pear-shaped. grin The goal is that we stop in 30 days (says the book) and then just say that we hope she can now regulate her own bedtimes as she can see what a difference more sleep makes, but that if she starts messing around again, we'll revert to this method. Because I don't want to be standing in her room every night at 9pm and I understand that ultimately she needs to be able to do it herself.

We have decided that next weekend she can earn some extra reading time at weekends if she's been able to stay at 9pm all week. We haven't told her this as she doesn't respond to carrots and senses manipulation a mile off. She likes it better when she doesn't see the rewards coming.

MiniMonty Tue 12-Nov-13 02:57:22

<< hears California Dreaming playing softly in the background and pukes >>

What's wrong with just being A PARENT.

I AM IN CHARGE and you are a child.
You trust me, love me and will obey me because I am your god, your provider and your source of DOOM should you transgress.
If you fuck up and piss me off badly enough the world will end - so behave...
I am the arbiter of EVERYTHING (and you like it that way)

until you're fifteen when it all goes tits up...

Pennythedog Tue 12-Nov-13 07:19:40

A friend of mine also tells me to just tell my ASD son 'no' and he won't be like it any more. I wish it were that easy <sighs>

About 80% of children with ASD have trouble getting to sleep at night. Personally I prefer to keep his bedtime exactly the same so his body gets used to it but I still have a lot of battles.

Good luck with whatever you try OP. I hope things get easier for you.

FrameyMcFrame Wed 13-Nov-13 22:26:14

I think 9 is far too early. As another poster mentioned, Scouts- Guides- gymnastics for this age group doesn't even END until 9...

My DD's bedtime is 9.30, electronic devices removed at 10. She turns her own light off when she wants after that.

chicaguapa Thu 14-Nov-13 13:26:57

Perhaps 9pm is too early for some DC, but DD has been going to sleep at 9pm for over a week now and still has to be woken up in the morning for school. It has made such a remarkable difference to her mood so I am sure that it's the right bedtime for her. Luckily she doesn't do gymnastics or other activities which prevent her from going to bed then.

cornflakegirl Thu 14-Nov-13 16:40:17

Well done for getting it to work! I'm glad it's improved her mood.

kickassangel Thu 14-Nov-13 16:58:03

Sounds like it is working then. Which is pretty much my mantra, if it works, we do it. I don't care what other people say, if it gets us through the day that's my method.

ghostonthecanvas Thu 14-Nov-13 17:11:14

NHS recommend 10 hours sleep for 9 year olds, 9 and half hours for older.
Sleep is incredibly important.
[Flowers] and I hope your perseverance pays off. You are the parent, you are right. You could also research facts for her re sleep and its importance.

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