Getting desperate: 4 year old won't stay in bed!

(36 Posts)
CountingSparrows Thu 06-Dec-12 12:31:39

Ds has always been a good sleeper but occasionally gets unsettled (birth of sib; starting school; illness for eg). He gets into a habit of coming into our room or just shouting 'mummeeeeee' from his bed. It can be for a wee, drink, tuck in, anything really. Up to 10 times p/night shock

If I leave him he screams and shouts a d wakes others up. He knows he needs to stay in bed all night, quietly but seems unable to manage. He loses opening his advent calendar, various treats and rewards which have been offered. He seems unable to help it.

Can anyone advise, getting so desperate.

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 06-Dec-12 13:09:17

Put a lidded cup of water where he can reach it and a potty in his room for wees. If he wakes tell him its night and to go to sleep, second time tell him you aren't coming in again and then leave him. Sounds harsh but we've done it at this age and dd cried, more of a shout, for a couple of minutes and then went back to sleep.

Think you have to decide though if you want to continue or risk the others waking a couple of times.

CountingSparrows Thu 06-Dec-12 14:51:51

Thanks, he has never had a drink/wee alone, he has anxiety issues. He had water and a potty by his bed but won't do any of it alone. He gets very stressed, it is genuine. He'd wet the bed before he'd sit on his potty alone in the night. He had a night light. I am firm re. This is the last time etc etc but he actually decides that, not me!

Argh!

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 06-Dec-12 20:00:02

Have you spoken to your HV about the anxiety and sleep?

fryingpanalley Thu 06-Dec-12 20:30:55

Sticker chart works here 4/5 nights. Stay in bed for x nights= £1 to spend in pocket money shop.
I got myself in a total pickle about her anxiety etc. but strangely enough the reminder of a plastic toy or whatnot at 3am seems to keep her in her bed.

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 06-Dec-12 21:12:27

Oh yeah had forgotten we used sticker charts. Netmums do some free printable ones.

<scuttles away at mention of netmums>

CountingSparrows Fri 07-Dec-12 00:39:26

Not spoken about his anxiety, no. His teacher knows a bit. Does it sound extreme? I'm worried about making an issue of it and not had anything to do with hvs since they were babies. Why do you suggest talking to them?

Thanks, in the meantime ill try sticker reward charts. Can't see anything working right now though.

What's the point anyway? Been up with ds2 since 11pm <gives up>

sashh Fri 07-Dec-12 04:50:04

I think rooms can be quite frightening when they are dark or just dim, not the same as the day.

What about having a pretend night, close curtains / blinds and have a few mins with him in bed and then using the potty.

COuld you use a baby monitor / walki talki? So you don't actually have to be there but can talk to him.

notcitrus Fri 07-Dec-12 07:04:01

What about leaving the big light on for him? Ds is 4 and has wanted it on for about a year. Sometimes he wants it off at bedtime but it's always on later.

And a fair few nights sitting reading outside his door, asking if he needs the loo and telling him to go back to bed if not.

Maybe telling him a certian toy is going to look after him all night as mummy needs sleep? Or getting him to look after a toy - might tell you what he's worrying about.

CountingSparrows Fri 07-Dec-12 15:07:00

Pretend night is a great idea, will do that later. Only up (with him anyway) once last night so that was a relief.

I'll also try the toy thing, though I'm sure I've done that before. He doesn't hold much weight in the protection offered by toys from monsters smile

CountingSparrows Fri 07-Dec-12 15:07:38

Big light left on always causes lots of wakings, meant to add.

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 07-Dec-12 15:19:59

Suggested talking to the HV because they can sometimes refer you to a free sleep clinic, she should also be better equipped to judge whether the anxiety is normal or not. Mine weren't that anxious at that age but I've only got a sample of two smile

jenduck Fri 07-Dec-12 19:10:59

I know you say you've tried the toy thing, but it might be worth doing it slightly differently. If DS1 (4 next week) is scared, I get his toys to 'talk' to him (me doing silly voice!) & promise to look after him.

We also leave on a lamp on the landing, which seems to reassure him.

And now that Christmas is approaching, could you use Father Christmas - eg, he is watching you, he will only come when you're asleep etc. Try Portable North Pole for a personalised video message from the man himself. You can stipulate something the child has been asked to do this year & whether or not they have done it, so this could act as a good incentive (disclaimer: when I did it for DS1 he had done what he was supposed to so had a 'good list' message, don't know what the message is like if they haven't done as they're supposed to)

CountingSparrows Sat 08-Dec-12 03:02:10

He's terrified of FC. We have to state in our letter to him to please leave presents in the garden (not even inside the house) and mummy will bring them in! Oh dear, unusual?

I have worried, on and off, for years about his anxiety. I worry it could make it worse if it becomes a bug deal.

Just up with the toddler again, thanks for your help so far

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 08-Dec-12 19:02:31

It is unusual to be scared of Father Christmas but not totally unheard of Counting.

Let him sleep with you? Then you both get sleep. He will be a happier child all day if he gets more sleep.
This was DS2 until he was about 11 8.

ConstantCraving Sat 08-Dec-12 21:00:52

Sleep WITH you!? Noooo! DD 3years was in my bed last night and believe me i got NO sleep. She slept cuddled up to me (very sweet) and woke every time I tried to move. I got awful cramp and had to get up and then spent an hour trying to get her back to sleep. She only came in because has been unwell and I was too tired to protest (big mistake!)

CountingSparrows Sat 08-Dec-12 21:37:52

No chance of sleeping with me. I'd love to in theory and if I was a lone patent I'm sure I'd end up with them in my bed but not practical now!

Worked for me. And DH who got peace in Ds's bed!

SoulTrain Sat 08-Dec-12 21:53:10

No, don't take him into bed with you!

Where did the mention of the anxiety come about? I don't think he sounds anxious, he's just testing boundaries with you.

I'd take him out 1-1 and have a chat about his room, what he thins about the bedroom, what he likes what he doesn't like, and what he would in an ideal world want when he wakes up. If its to come in with you, explain why you can't do that and then offer a compromise. Talk about a new light, bed covers, cuddly toy...whatever works.

Also, I don't think it's unusual for a baby to be afraid of Father Christmas. I'd say the idea if you think about it is quite weird, a man they don't know coming in to bed when they are sleeping....I reckon he's a thinker and is bright, that's all.

birthdaypanic Sat 08-Dec-12 21:54:08

We left hall light on, still do even though dd's all grown up.

Alwayshome Sat 08-Dec-12 22:06:58

Maybe not practical for you but this is what works for us and 3.5yr DS.
He goes to sleep in his own room.
Before we go to bed we make up a small bed on the floor next to my side of our bed. If he wakens in the night he can run in and sleep the rest of the night in his special bed.
Started this out of total laziness on my part not wanting to get up in the night and it's worked out great. Prob ends up there a couple of times a week. Just knowing he can come sleep next to me has settled him. All getting good sleep.
Just an idea! Good luck.

CountingSparrows Sat 08-Dec-12 22:37:31

He is anxious generally but definitely testing boundaries right now too. He is obsessive, and that's not too string a word, about being completely tucked in and with his sheet over his head, so no part of gum shows confused, which I always help him with. I have now said, except 1 wee trip per night, I will not be tucking him in again. He stayed in bed all night after that! Let's hope it works tonight too...

Tgger Sat 08-Dec-12 22:43:52

Hmmmmm, I think you can feed their anxieties by being a too responsive parent shock.

I think I did this a bit with DS, and have learnt since with DD that if you manage their expectations from a younger age they are A LOT easier. So... when he is not tucked in you don't pander to it you just say "it doesn't matter, you can get yourself comfortable" or something like that. Of course to start with you will get howls of protest but if you stick to your guns and don't engage he will stop fussing (so says my amateur child psychology smile but worked for us).

The wees in the night bit is trickier- think you have to help him with that whilst he needs help, but perhaps you can minimise your engagement if you haven't done that already?

BertieBotts Sat 08-Dec-12 22:46:56

Oh that's good that you've found something that works smile

I was going to suggest either sitting with him and hoping it's a phase (my 4.2 year old has just started "letting" me go downstairs after tucking him in, it's amazing grin) or trying story CDs? Maybe something to try if anything upsets his routine.

Tgger Sat 08-Dec-12 22:54:09

Gah! Why do parents let 4 year olds be in charge like this? Sorry, bug bear of mine. I know it's a different style of parenting, but IMO you are setting yourself up for disaster if you let them decide what happens.

TowMater Sat 08-Dec-12 22:59:44

Hi,
It does sound like your son is an anxious boy, and what you just mentioned about him being obsessed with being tucked in made me wonder whether he has other sensory issues. My son is a very anxious boy and we had horrendous problems in the past with his sleeping pattern, and we ended up talking to a sleep consultant. Some advice she gave, which might possibly be worth considering, is whether there is any part of his environment that is there when he settles to sleep that isn't when he wakes? For example, is his room darker then when he went to sleep, or is there less noise in the house? A change in environment can trigger anxiety and recurrent night time waking.

I think you should chat to your GP about how anxious your son is, or maybe CAMHs might be a good place to go for advice on how to teach him to regulate himself so that he's not getting overwhelmed?
Also, have you considered a groclock?

Tgger Sat 08-Dec-12 23:03:37

I agree with the pp, but I would also consider that if you give young children too much responsibility re deciding what goes on it makes them more anxious, not less.

BertieBotts Sat 08-Dec-12 23:16:04

Was that aimed at me? I put letting in quotes for a reason, but anyway.

CountingSparrows Sun 09-Dec-12 10:38:20

Really interesting reading, thanks. We all patent differently and all our children are different too so what works for some etc etc. There isn't a right or wrong way, as long as we are being kind, fair and thoughtful about it.

Its a really good point about feeding anxieties by giving them too much control. I am sure I do this do can change that. I ask him too many questions and encourage him to make decisions too much. That's why he has such a good relationship with his dad, fairly strict and inflexible dh I suspect.

He definitely has sensory issues; socks have to be inside out due to seams, no labels, hates wet and dirt etc. very 'fussy' about things like that. Also strong gag relflex and can be put off his dinner by anything (like making eye contact with the dog grin confused)

I gave considered talking to someone about it but worry about making it into a big deal.

He stayed in bed again last night btw! I slept with poorly baby though. Well, I say slept...

thornrose Sun 09-Dec-12 10:57:31

Counting - I had similar problems when my (now 13yo) dd was this age. It's very intereresting that you said if you were a single parent you would have had ds in your bed. That was me and I spent the next 7 years trying to get her out blush so well done for not "giving in".

Regarding the anxieties, I felt instinctively with my dd that they were very real and needed to be acknowledged and in some ways she did need "control."

Your ds may benefit from some support with his sensory issues and anxiety and that can take time to get in place. It might be a good idea to start the ball rolling now.

thornrose Sun 09-Dec-12 11:02:17

Tgger - sticking to my guns and not engaging never made my child "stop fussing". It's great that it worked for you though.

NagooHoHoHo Sun 09-Dec-12 11:07:28

You talking to anyone about how to manage his anxiety need not be making a big deal of it to him. Yes it's acknowledging it, but only between you and the HV.

CountingSparrows Sun 09-Dec-12 13:50:41

Oh yes that would be fine, I just mean if he had to talk to someone about it. I will talk my very good gp I think, as she can refer us if necessary. What would be the likely route, what is done to help anxious children if help is deemed necessary? That is what worries me, him realising he is unusual.

cheekydino Sun 09-Dec-12 15:06:17

Hi OP - we have had similar issues with our ds (4) and he's just been diagnosed with sensory processing issues among other things. He was diagnosed a bit by accident as we had been referred to a paediatrician for something else which turned out not to be anything, and also saw an OT. It has been really useful as he now has an IEP at his preschool and they help him with some of his issues about messy play and dressing. He has no idea that there is anything different about him and the assessment was just playing really. We got a big list of things to do to help him cope with the sensory issues. We have found it hard to know when to give him some control and when to be strict, but bedtime we decided to let him have the sensory issues as he likes them (door open, landing light on, sheet a particular way) but get cross if he does things like call us back for an extra cuddle or acts like he can't reach his water which we leave next to his bed. I'm just glad we have the chance to work on things before he starts school as he wouldn't have coped, I think, starting without them being aware of his issues and would probably have had lots of inexplicable (to them) meltdowns.

Would recommend getting referred to an OT if you can.

CountingSparrows Sun 09-Dec-12 19:26:51

Thanks, really helpful. Might explain why he has been so difficult since starting school. I will phone gp tomorrow and make an appointment. Thanks again.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now