Desperate for help with bedtime for 12 year old(62 Posts)
My 12 year old son is causing us all to be at absolute breaking point.... He is omission in the day but come bed time he starts to be difficult. He has a very long routine whereby he goes to the toilet for ages, has to adjust the blind, straighten bed, turn fan on and off and basically faf about as much as possible then he will start saying 'what can I do if I can't sleep' which he will repeat over and over regardless of the answer o give. I have told him he can read or watch to and I have bought him colouring books to try but he won't do any of these thing. He won't even put his head on the pillow, he will just keep saying what can I do if I can't sleep over and over and this can go in for 1 1/2 hours whist I get more and more fed up. I have tried going to bed earlier and later, treating him, banning him from all electronics, begging and pleading. He has had a blood test that came back normal. I have even started thjing him to a clinical psychologist to see if we can get to the bott M of why he won't just read quietly but gets totally hysterical.( when he does eventually lie down he goes straight to sleep so it's not insomnia) .all my other kids end up in tears and we are begging him just to be quiet but it's like he is possessed saying the same things over and over. I'm so low about it all and actually my hair is falling out from the stress.
Crikey, it sounds awful!
At 12 I wouldn't take mine to bed, just send them up. If you did this, after a few days might he stop the behaviour if there isn't an audience so to speak? If it's an attention thing this might work, though probably be a he'll usher couple of nights till he got it.
If it's not attention and is genuine anxiety, have you any ideas what might be causing it? How is school etc?
be a hellish couple of nights that should say!
It's is awful.... I don't take him up but as it goes on and on I usually end up there as he is disturbing the other children. School holidays here so no problems there and he is generally OK in the day? I fell like I can't even look at him this morning 😢 He won't even try to lie down! In the day I try to talk to him and he says all the right things, I won't do it tonight mum I promise. I just read a book bla bla bla and then as soon as I say bedtime then he starts. He has a twin who is quite happy to go to bed in 10 mins. I wouldn't even mind him staying up till 12 if he would just go quietly. I genuinely can't take much more and my husband is saying that he will have to stay somewhere else tonight because we can't take another night of it 😢
Can't you totally ignore him?
At 12 he's quite old enough to be ignored.
It'd be easier to deal with your other DC the to deal with him. It's school holidays. It'll be fine if they get disturbed.
Or don't tell him to go to bed? Let him stay up. Again just totally ignore him after his bedtime.
It's sound easy to ignore but he is literally screaming and crying ( it's so bizarre) it's like the biggest todlet temper tantrum you have ever seen. He is banging his head with his hands and screaming the same thing Over and over. I'm actually worried about his mental state. I'm surprised the neighbours haven't called the police to be honest it's that bad. It's might be the holidays for him but we still have to work and function in the day time.
But I'm willing to try anything so I'll try it tonight ( although I feel like I want to ignore him alway to be fair)
Sounds hard. My 13yo is autistic and sleep problems have been a consistent presence here. Ds still has a bath and then a bedtime story every night which helps loads.
The rituals you describe might be worth investigating, obviously this is just the Internet and none of us can diagnose etc etc, but I'd be thinking about looking at OCD.
Dawn Huebner (a psychologist) has a series of CBT workbooks for kids and there's one called 'What to do when you dread your bed' and another 'What to do when your brain gets stuck' which might be worth a try as a DIY intervention.
Can you not go back to basics? So let him have a bath, read a story together then leave him to read on his own? Or stay with him talking about what you did today or going to do in the holidays? It might a few nights like this to break the cycle.
Sounds a complete nightmare you have my sympathies OP.
Thanks for the recommendations I'll order them in Amazon. The clinical psychologist mentioned ASD and generalised anxiety as possible causes. He said if it was ocd it would be more of an all day thing but he has only had two sessions so these were just initial observations really.
I could well believe he may be mildly autistic but I don't buy the anxiety thing...... I don't know
He has always been a stubborn sort of child but this is so horrible. It 'feels' like he enjoys it ( my hub and has also said he looks almost happy when he get a reaction)
Mousy aah, so autism is a possibility. Anxiety is very common with autism as we (I'm autistic too) struggle to cope in a world that feels alien and uncomfortable to us. We can't always/often articulate it, it can just feel like being out of sorts IYSWIM?
Auld... He won't let me read and he will not touch the books himself as it will 'keep him awake' as he says. After a prolonged faff...... Every night I say well I'll read to you-NO
well you read for a bit-NO do you want me to lie with you -NO why don't you watch to quietly -NO
Mum want can I do to go to sleep?? I cried at the GP yesterday and he gave him phenergan but it had absolutely no effect because he refused to put hims head on the pillow.
How about listening to music with headphones on?
I bought him some new music in his iPod and a relaxation session but he won't even have the I pod in his room. He immediately rejects anything I offer or try to suggest. He is in the mindset that nothing will work and he's not trying it but he's happy to make everyone cry and get cross with him for not trying. Come 10pm I honestly feel like I'm dealing with someone who has some serious issues because he sees his brothers and sisters upset and his parents distraught but won't even attempt to help himself.
The CP was£200 last week and god knows how much this week which is money that we just don't have but will have to find because if he carries on like this l end up on anti depressants myself.
We are paying for the cap because the wait for CAMHS here is so long the GP sai it would be months and months so recommended if there was any way we could go private to do that. So it's a half day taken off work every Friday afternoon to get this sorted.
The charity Cerebra have a well regarded sleep advice servjce which might be worth a try.
Do keep a detailed diary.
You can ask GP for referral to a sleep clinic.
Sleep problems are horrendous, people tend to be sympathetic and understanding when it's a baby/toddler, but once they're past that much less so.
Could you try rearranging the room or perhaps choosing another colour for it? If it's the same layout and the same routine every night then perhaps something in his brain is tripping his desire to just sleep and be normal and his sudden tantrum. Or could he swap rooms completely? Perhaps explain he doesn't have to sleep, he just needs to stay in his room.
Would this be worth a try? Earlier in the day, set up his room for bedtime. Put out books he could read, iPod to listen to, bottle of water if thirsty etc. Get him involved in doing this, at a time when he is thinking more rationally. Then get him to write a list of all the things he can do at bedtime to help if he can't sleep. Also some statements like " if I lie down in bed, I may feel anxious about going to sleep, but this is OK. If I distract myself with iPod/thinking about something nice ( you could discuss and write down ideas of things to think about) the anxiety will slowly get less and will sleep." Etc
When bedtime comes, go through usual routine - bath loo, teeth etc. Give him hugs goodnight etc, then leave him to it. If he comes down, you are kind but just say," you know all the things you can do, go and get into bed and read your list" and send him back to his room. Don't engage in "what if I can't sleep" discussion as this seems to be pushing him to get more wound up.
I don't know if this would help but maybe worth a try?
But OP says he screams and keeps other DC awake?
It sounds like you are giving him a lot of choices which may be making things worse.
Presumably you have tried telling him to put his head on the pillow?
I like the idea of the list. Also have you tried just a straightforward bribe? Let him earn something he wants by settling down without a fuss?
So , on his list, get him to write. " Feeling anxious is not nice, but it will wear off if I lie down and distract myself. Shouting and screaming is not OK because it disturbs other people." I got the impression from op that the screaming escalated as she engaged with him and his anxieties, so giving him techniques for self-soothing whilst refusing to engage in the escalating " what if..." conversations might help.
Could you take the emphasis away from it bed time being about sleep?
He has his routine and if he can't fall asleep that is fine but he must stay in his room and do quiet thing. If he keeps going the toilet or comes downstairs I would just politely send him back to his room.
If he persists then I would seriously consider moving his bed time a ridiculous early time so everyone else was still up and was not being disturbed.
I feel like such a failure..... He has always slept well as a baby/ toddler so it's not like he has never slept well which is the odd thing?
There isn't really an option to move rooms as we have just added new blinds and black out curtains to this room just for him in the hope it will help and it has just been decorated for him.
I don talk to him in the day about it and we have bought new books and as I say new music on his I pod but I will try again today.
I am in two minds as to wether to feel sorry for him because he is clearly struggling and being furious that he just wiling try anything I suggest.
I am a real do'er and a fixer so this is particularly frustrating to me that I seem to be doing everything to help him and he won't try!
Ice order those books to come from Amazon tomorrow and I've sent off for the sleep assistance so thank you for those suggestions.
I'm going to get him to write the list of things he has the option to do and then ignore after bed time and try that tonight. But I start out with the best intentions ever night and then after an hour or so I lose my rag with it all.
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