Coping with 3.5yo poor behaviour whilst pregnant

(6 Posts)
00Salix00 Tue 10-May-16 15:46:56

I suspect this will be a bit of an essay, but here it goes...

I'm struggling with aspects of my 3.5 year old's behaviour. He has always been very high octane - on the go all the time, demanding constant attention etc. He literally doesn't stop from the moment he wakes up till the moment he falls asleep. It doesn't matter what/how many activities I do with him in a day, it's never enough to satisfy him. I've had several people (including teachers at his nursery/pre-school, which he attends 3 days a week, comment on how active he is) politely suggest he may have ADHD. I don't think he does. Apart from being too young to diagnose anyway, there are a lot of ADHD traits he doesn't show. I think he's just incredibly high maintenance.

I could cope with his borderline hyperactivity as he was always a good sleeper and napper, but lately he's dropped his daytime nap (fair enough; we were lucky it lasted this long!). We try and still have an hour's 'quiet time' which ideally involves him playing quietly in his room. This doesn't usually work out any more, and usually results in us telling him we won't play with him as it's family relaxation time, and we put on a film or something.

In the last fortnight he has also started waking up between 5-6am (he used to sleep till 6-7am). His bedtime is between 6:30-7:30pm. It doesn't matter when he goes to bed, he tends to wake at the same time. He has a Gro clock in his room which used to work brilliantly in keeping him in his room till 7am whilst he played, but he now ignores it and is constantly coming into our room to wake me up. I'm not really getting any time to myself any more, and trying to get even small tasks done with DS around is a nightmare; my house is a pig sty at the moment. I thought about getting up before DS wakes up, but even if I wanted to wake up at 4:30am, DS wakes up as soon as I open my bedroom door so it's not really a solution.

I appreciate you have to adapt to your child's sleep patterns, so I wouldn't object to the early rising so much if I thought he was getting enough sleep. However, he's so grumpy and aggressive I doubt he's getting the right amount of rest. Obviously, you can't force them to sleep so I'm stumped. On the worst days I am subjected to hitting, biting, slapping, general defiance, and constant abuse. I use time-outs for violent behaviour usually, but I've learnt it's pointless when he's so angry and frustrated. Especially when he's doing it for attention. On these occasions I tell him I won't play with him/sit with him if he hits, then leave the room etc. if he doesn't stop. This seems more effective than time-outs. The only exception is when he intentionally hurts our dog (i.e. twisting his ears to make him yelp). I will not put up with him harming the dog and have a zero tolerance approach to it. The dog needs to feel safe in his own home. The problem is, DS has learnt it's a guaranteed way to get attention (even if it is negative). I'm ashamed to say I have bee9n1028-5 in tears on these horrendous days.

I'm 29 weeks pregnant and I'm up several times in the night to pee or because I'm uncomfortable so this early waking is exhausting me. I'm going to have a massive sleep debt before the baby is even born at this rate. DS is excited about the new baby, but I expect there may be some anxiety about it too.
This hasn't been a straightforward (or planned) pregnancy and I've been back and forth to the FMU for various appointments. I've also had constant nausea the whole time (fortunately I've not actually been sick). I'm struggling with patience, and feel guilty because I'm not the active, playful mum I was before this pregnancy. Every time I move I feel dizzy/disorientated, which doesn't make for a very fun mum!

I work 3 days a week, DH works shifts so it can be difficult to share childcare. Our nearest family live 3 hours drive way, and I don't really have any close friends I can just pop over to when things get too much.

I'm looking forward to when this pregnancy is over, but I'm already feeling overwhelmed by my DS. I don't know how I'm going to cope with a newborn thrown in too.

I'm not really sure what the point of this mammoth post is really. Just if anyone has any advice, or are wearing the 'been there, done that' badge it would be good to hear.

P.S. I'm not normally this moany; I'm just soooo tired!
P.P.S. Well done if you made it this far!

minipie Tue 10-May-16 16:04:11

Sounds tough; I have a 3.5 yr old who is like that on her worse days and it sucks. With DD it is very much tiredness related and when she doesn't nap she gets overtired and sleeps less at night too. Every time she has tried to drop her nap we have ended up with shorter nights and nightmare behaviour so I wonder if that's what is going on here.

What we do now is try to enforce a short (40 min) nap using the buggy or car. She doesn't need it every day but when her behaviour starts to go downhill we know she needs it. After the nap she behaves better in the afternoon, goes to bed better and is less likely to wake early in the morning. Then usually the next day she doesn't need a nap... but then will again in a day or two as her tiredness builds up. It's a very high maintenance approach I know but it's hopefully a temporary thing while the nap phases out.

Worth a try? If you try taking him out for a drive/buggy ride after lunch and he falls asleep then I think that probably shows he's overtired and still needs the nap sometimes?

00Salix00 Wed 11-May-16 21:06:16

Thank you for responding minipie. It can be tough hey? Unfortunately DS doesn't sleep in the car unless it's a 2+hour motorway drive. He also doesn't sleep in his buggy - I guess he's afraid he's missing out on something! I appreciate the suggestions though, and I'm glad it works for your DD smile.
I managed to get out with DS most of today (despite the hideous rain!), and he always behaves better if he can get outside. He practically fell asleep on me when we got back after lunch. After a brief tantrum he actually went down for a nap in his room! Hurrah! A ruddy double-glazing cold-caller woke him up after an hour, but at least he got the rest he needed. We'll see what time he wakes up tomorrow; I'm really hoping the nap won't result in him waking earlier. The fact you found no naps = less nighttime sleep is reassuring though!

I feel I should add that when DS gets enough sleep, he can be the most polite, lovely, empathic, and funny little boy. I hope I haven't demonised him too much in my original sleep-deprived post.

SliceOfLime Wed 11-May-16 21:14:51

That is hard, no wonder you're exhausted! I also had a difficult second pregnancy and a high-energy DD1. She stopped napping around 2yo but we used to have TV time with CBeebies on after lunch, we snuggled on the sofa together to watch it and I sometimes dozed off Sounds like you've identified the problem, he's basically just looking for more attention from you, good or bad. Rather than sending him to his room to play on his own, could you have quiet time together on the sofa? It really isn't going to do him any harm to watch an hour or so of tv a day. It was the only way we could get DD1 to sit still and rest!

Purpleprickles Wed 11-May-16 21:29:07

Could you try a very simple reward chart for behaviour? I'm it sure how often be lashes out at you or the dog but could you break the day down into before lunch, after lunch and before bed then give him a smiley face for each part of the day he doesn't lash out in. Start with him needing to get 1 face a day (if he does it often) to get a reward and make this something he can do with you rather than something tangible like a sweet. Then up to 2/3 etc. If you see a positive effect you could then move it to be days out of a week rather than sections out of a day.

I would still leave the room if he hurts you or the dog but very clearly say I'm leaving the room because you did xx and hurt me. This means a sad face on your chart for before breakfast.

I have used reward charts in Nursery with children of the same age and more often than not they do motivate the child and focus on the positive behaviour.

As for sleep I'm afraid I can't help as mine was always an early riser confused

Purpleprickles Wed 11-May-16 21:29:39

Eek typos in that sorry!

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