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how do you deal with tantrums from 3yo when there is ? over asd?

(31 Posts)
osospecial Wed 21-Nov-12 12:33:37

Over the last 2 weeks Dd has started having big tantrums after waking around 5am or at bedtime on quite a few occasions.
She cries, screams and tried to physically fight me to get me up to take her downstairs, pulling at my hands, hair, clothes, anything she can. She seems to get in such a state+cannot calm down +it just escalates. She is non verbal.
I'm not used to these types of tantrums from her, and she's always been quite a good sleeper but its changed lately+she can't seem to wind down to go to sleep very easily either. She is like a different child when this happens as she is usually smiley+quite passive.
My question is how do you know if its just a 3yr old having a tantrum, and how hard would you fight her to get her to stay in bed at 5am or would you just get up? She falls asleep on sofa downstairs then in front of tv but is worn out the next day. It just seems impossible to calm her down enough to get her back to sleep without giving in. I have tried for about an hour b4 giving in but then think I should hav just given in in the first place instead of putting us both through that! It never seems to work because she doesn't calm down she just gets worse.
If your child has asd do you treat this kind of behaviour differently? Its times like this that the not knowing really sucks because I'm worried about being too strict/not strict enough!

bialystockandbloom Wed 21-Nov-12 14:54:02

Really difficult, poor you.

As I see it there are two things here: one is the problem of her waking up so early, and the second is how you deal with it.

Imo whether she does have ASD or not, you can still deal with it in the same way, and just by led by what you think she understands & can deal with. I think you're right that whatever decision you make about how to deal with it (ie whether to try and put her back to bed or just give in and get up) should be taken at the very beginning - as you say, it is pointless trying for an hour and then giving up, as it sends confusing messages to her, and also is really hard for you! I think if it was me I would definitely try and put back to bed as 5am is too early (for me) and you say she is obviously still tired. What I would do it to try and do it as quietly and silently as possible - ie as little talking as possible, no lights on etc - just take her hand, put back in bed and say "still bedtime" or something, and repeat (and repeat and repeat....). Totally ignore the tantrums. (We do ABA and this does involve ignoring tantrums (unless they're dangerous) to teach teh child that that kind of communication isn't going to get them what they want.)

As for hte problem of her waking up in the first place. Any change in routine or anything? Maybe you can make her bedtime a bit later? Give her a snack before bed (she might be hungry?). Anything to do with toilet training, does she need a wee? (If so you could try the 'lifting' thing at midnight).

Sorry have to go on school run now but HTH.

ouryve Wed 21-Nov-12 16:32:53

Same as you would if there wasn't. Provide safe, quiet environment to chill out in, with a beanbag or something to take anger out on if that helps, and keep words to a minimum, because they're more likely to overstimulate than soothe - if there's no ASD involved and the tantrums are pure angry attention seeking, then too much chatter is providing too much reward. Work on discovering what the direct trigger is. Tiredness won't help, but there's probably a transition point in the day that triggers the behaviour

ouryve Wed 21-Nov-12 16:38:10

OK, reading more into it (my 6yo was having a moment, so I didn't read in much depth, sorry!) it might be that she is genuinely uncomfortable when she wakes up. Is her room cold in the morning, now, or is she either desperate for the loo or feeling uncomfortable in a wet nappy? Could she maybe be hungry and unable to settle again because of that - or, like other people in the morning, feeling just plain crabby about it?

DS2 wakes up around this time and we just roll with it. It's how he ticks, unfortunately.

MummytoMog Wed 21-Nov-12 17:32:09

DD used to wake up earlier than we wanted to, but her room is a safe environment (which she cannot get out of) so we put some nice, physical toys in her room (a bounce and spin zebra, some things that have flashy lights and music and a mini trampette) and she just rocks out until we get her up and out of her room. Is this a possibility for you?

whatthewhatthebleep Wed 21-Nov-12 18:17:53

I discovered a neighbour was getting into his car and his car was a bit loud which caused DS to be disturbed and wake up....close the windows?...are you attached to a neighbouring house?...could they be making noises causing disturbance/ doors, showers, their heating, etc if your DD's room is nearside walls?
Could be the heating kicking in or the house is cold and heating isn't on yet?...warmer duvet/blankets? cosy pjs?

Fluids at night...curtail drinks from an earlier time (esp juices) and take to toilet last thing...do a toilet trip or nappy change before you go to bed?

Could be just needing less sleep than previously...push back bed time and limit/shorten naps through the day a bit and try never to allow naps after 3pm!!

lots of possibles I'm afraid...maybe 1 of these will make sense with the trial and error experiment!!!
I wouldn't expect any of them to be a quick fix though...maybe after a week if there was no improvement, I'd move on to the next idea and so on til you hopefully find the solution
Good luck smile...you could always use a small tv/dvd player and pop it on when she wakes...if thats helping her get back off to sleep again....maybe she just wants to watch TV when she wakes up grin

osospecial Wed 21-Nov-12 19:59:23

Thanks for all the ideas, I will definitely be trying them all tonight, plenty of supper, warm onesie on, it's not like her to wake at this time so I think you are all right about something triggering it. We are trying to potty train in day but she has nappy for bed. I think it could be that she is getting cold, I bought her fleece onesies a few weeks ago as I found it cold in her room but can't work out why it's colder than our room, we had new double glazing 2 years ago so it's not like there is a draught through the window in there. I put it down to there being less bodyheat than in our room, i use a hot water bottle and make sure she's covered but think by 5am the hot water bottle is cold and shes kicked the quilt off. I nearly bought an electric blanket u can leave on all night on weekend but I'm not sure about them, they used to be unsafe, I know they are prob not anymore, does anybody on here use them on dc beds?
As for the tantrums thanks for the advice, feel better knowing I can still be a bit strict without feeling awful about it!

jussi Wed 21-Nov-12 21:41:58

You have my sympathies.we had the same thing and there is also a question mark over ASD with my DD(3).
I fully understand the screaming/shrieking and pulling off pyjamas(in our case). No amount of putting back to bed helped at all.she would have just made herself sick.
In our case,she was actually diagnosed with coeliac disease and was most probably in pain/uncomfortable during the night.Since the change in her diet her sleeping has improved immensely.Not perfect but a lot better.Not saying its the same in your case but just to be aware.As other people have mentioned,there may well be an explanation for her tantrums.

Dev9aug Wed 21-Nov-12 21:56:00

I would second what Jussi said. We did everything possible when DS1 was going through a phase of no sleep. He was even prescribed Melatonin to help him fall asleep. It turned out the reason was stomach pain due to constipation. Once that was under control, his sleep got better. Its getting worse again as he gets constipated frequently and needs dis impacting but at least we know what the reason is.

In your case, unless she can communicate pain, I would be wary of being too harsh as it is only likely to make the child more anxious.

osospecial Wed 21-Nov-12 22:12:00

Thanks, I'm back on here after 2hours trying to get dd off to sleep, dh has just taken her back downstairs and I'm having 10min break. She was ok for first hour+half but refusing to even lie down in bed, trying to do rolly polly, handstands, bouncing on bed or hanging over the side! (Doesnt help that she had a nap in cm today as she had a bad night last night.) Then after all this time she starts to get fed up and the tantrum+screaming has started again. Now she is fine watching mickey mouse downstairs.
Dev9 that's exactly what im scared of, because she can't communicate, is it just a spoilt tantrum as she is starting to get her way going downstairs or is it that there is something wrong!
Jussi, dd is exactly the same, no amount of putting her back to bed seems to work, she just carries on and gets in a worse state!
Thanks for the advice re stomach pain, i will look into that. Actually, thinking of it now we have started potty training the last few weeks and I think she is holding her stools in sometimes, rather than go on the potty, she hasn't been today at all.

whatthewhatthebleep Thu 22-Nov-12 12:40:02

how was your DD last night/this morning?

osospecial Thu 22-Nov-12 16:25:29

Hi whatthewhat dd finally fell asleep at around 11pm last night on the sofa downstairs+i carried her up to bed. I didn't put my alarm on as I thought she could do with a lie in this morning but she slept all night then+woke by herself at 7.30 so I got to work+dd to CM as normal. I'm pleased I just picked her up+shes been ok all day+hasnt had a nap so hopefully 2nites bedtime will be a little easier (fingers crossed) thanks for asking

whatthewhatthebleep Thu 22-Nov-12 18:53:44

that sounds better and I hope tonight she settles a bit sooner and more easily...I'm sure you won't be far behind!! smile

osospecial Fri 23-Nov-12 09:13:06

Last night was much the same again! 10.30 before she went off to sleep, she wanted to go up to bed at 7.30pm but then would not stay in bed or lie down at all! She did sleep all night though but was tired+grumpy when I had to wake her again this morn! Hope this is just something that's going to pass! At least its the weekend now! smile

whatthewhatthebleep Fri 23-Nov-12 12:11:37

I know it will be so tempting but maybe not letting her sleep too long on sat and sun...just so you can try to keep the sleep times as close as possible?
How limited is the stimulus in her room?...keeping you there, lights, toys, etc...is it maybe a little bit about 1:1 attention and not wanting that to stop?...often any children just want to keep it all going and going and can manipulate a huge amount in getting what they want, etc
I'd be trying to limit interaction, any toys at all and just 1 small dim light so vision is very limited...maybe say little and just hold her hand and hum a wee tuneful repetitive song or something....she may wriggle, bounce, whatever but you ignore this and continue soothing, quiet humming and offering your hand...like the washing cycle can help kids to sleep...so you are creating a similar repetitive soothing sound...take a glass of water...it could take a marathon of humming the same short tune!!! smile...and say very little and keep any eye contact minimal...maybe sit facing sideways to her bed/cot.

Maybe worth a try but imagine it may take a few nights to start helping...determined resolve...thats what you need! grin.....think about the lovely glass of something/nightcap waiting for you downstairs !!

whatthewhatthebleep Fri 23-Nov-12 12:17:14

failing this of course...it sounds like a dvd works when she is lying on the couch....my DS has had a tv/dvd in his room since he was quite young and wasn't a sleeper...awful!

You can't keep reading or watching when your eyes go!...so maybe this is your best solution...put a tv/dvd in her room and use it as a soothing quiet resource that you know works...no harm...really there isn't

My sympathy, my ds was a terrible sleeper at that age osospecial.

Could it be the change of the clocks that has upset your dd's sleep pattern?

I think you have had great advice especially about the warmth issue - my ds still kicks blankets off but he is a good sleeper now - it took me a long time to figure out what would work for him - and I never even thought his constipation then could have made his tummy sore (doh), or about noises. DS is still very noise sensitive and at 3 he had hellish tantrums & was non-verbal, it was heartbreaking stuff at the time - hard to believe it is the same child the change in him form then to now. So there is hope.

We pretty much had over a year (maybe 2) of broken sleep. I did take him back to bed if he got up, but at first we would let him come in with us. I can't sleep with an extra person in the bed, so we would let him fall asleep sometimes (when we were too shattered to move) then return him to his bed, just kept doing this, saying very little if anything. Sometimes at night I or dh would lie in bed with ds, saying nothing, with just a night light on - just keeping him in bed. As this got better we reduced the amount of time we stayed in bed with him after reading him two stories... then I would sit at his door, then outside his door, so if he got up I would just lead him back to bed - pretty much normal way to deal with a toddler really, very time consuming, so we would start his bed time routine quite early.

It is exhausting, especially when potty training which is very demanding. I knew if ds napped during the day we were in for a hard night!

I actually found t.v too stimulating for my ds - so would try to make sure he got none after 6.30 at night, or at least an hour before bedtime.

osospecial Fri 23-Nov-12 14:00:47

I have been lying with dd since around march when I moved her into a bed, she was always great in the cot+no trouble. With the bed she would not stay in there unless I lay down next to her. But then, even if it did take a while some nights she would always be lying down, usually playing her lullaby gloworm over+over until she dropped off. She would get into bed happily+pull covers over herself. Now, the last few weeks she just will not lie down or stay still! I have tried cartoons on ipad a few times the last few weeks when she has woken at 5am just to get her to stay in bed+go back to sleep, it works sometimes. Last night I put the game on she loves to play on ipad and then she lay down in bed to play it (after trying for 2hrs to get her to lay down) she was so tired it only took 10min+i turned it off+she fell straight to sleep. It seems to work in getting her to lie down but this was at 10pm+she was worn out by then, not sure if I'd have done that at 8pm if it wouldve worked. It usually is dark in her room+i just turn over+pretend to hav gone to sleep so I don't talk to her after I've turned lights out, we do look at books and I chat for a bit b4 this. She seems to be fighting me on everything else at the moment aswell, getting her dressed, walking somewhere, she flops to the ground, lifts her legs so I can't put her down, holds her arms down tight so I can't take top off,

osospecial Fri 23-Nov-12 14:04:56

I have been lying with dd since around march when I moved her into a bed, she was always great in the cot+no trouble. With the bed she would not stay in there unless I lay down next to her. But then, even if it did take a while some nights she would always be lying down, usually playing her lullaby gloworm over+over until she dropped off. She would get into bed happily+pull covers over herself. Now, the last few weeks she just will not lie down or stay still! I have tried cartoons on ipad a few times the last few weeks when she has woken at 5am just to get her to stay in bed+go back to sleep, it works sometimes. Last night I put the game on she loves to play on ipad and then she lay down in bed to play it (after trying for 2hrs to get her to lay down) she was so tired it only took 10min+i turned it off+she fell straight to sleep. It seems to work in getting her to lie down but this was at 10pm+she was worn out by then, not sure if I'd have done that at 8pm if it wouldve worked. It usually is dark in her room+i just turn over+pretend to hav gone to sleep so I don't talk to her after I've turned lights out, we do look at books and I chat for a bit b4 this. She seems to be fighting me on everything else at the moment aswell, getting her dressed, walking somewhere, she flops to the ground, lifts her legs so I can't put her down, holds her arms down tight so I can't take top off, won't put her coat on, don't know if she's being difficult because she is tired or just going through a phase of being difficult!

It could be a bit of both? They do seem to be naturally defiant at this stage, just getting through it, being consistent seems to be the most important thing, so keep at the routine you want her to have and it will eventually click . Try and make sure everyone else does the same too - so CM and any family all get on board.

Sometimes you might have to give in, there will always be disruptions, but try and re-establish the routine, and keep going with it, always be prepared to distract her from bad behaviour whatever way you can (my favourite distraction technique is tickling ds, he loves it, but not all children will, and only before he escalates to tantrum stage). I went through a phase of having a stash of interesting little toys, that are rewards, you could have them visible on a high shelf, so they are only available to choose when the child does what you want. Things like bubbles, squishy things, anything in a wee bag - ds would get one of these after doing something - I was all for bribery, even something tiny like a chocolate star would work... but put them away at some point so they still are interseting, or keep adding to the stash - pocket money toys from hawkins bazaar kind of stuff.

I also tell him in x minutes we are going to do this (i.e get changed/brush teeth/stop watching or playing on the computer) and I stick a timer on (sand timer or I use my phone) it helps him prepare for the change. I think he is better to deal with when I limit his screen time - so if he plays on the computer it is for 30 mins max - though sometimes I let him have more time and know he will be grumpy, but giving him a 5 minute, then one minute warning helps him, and he does sometimes come away himself now, because he is used to this.

I also had whatever age he was time limits so at 3 I would expect 3 minutes attention, extending this with age, so 3 1/2 minutes at 3 and a half years (I would do time out like that too - though time out was actually time in another room, with me sitting quietly ignoring him - because time out turned him to frenzied panic - I couldn't leave him).

Have you heard of the backward step method? chaining method and other tips there, might help.

It can get better, but it is sooooo hard, I remember a lot of tears (mine) and heartache. It is so stressful - try and make sure you get a break too, it is hard for others to deal with your child's behaviour but it is good for the child and family to learn to deal with it - helps them create those bonds. Remember to praise your dd when she does anything, no matter how small that is good - big celebratory dances, cuddles etc whatever works.

osospecial Fri 23-Nov-12 16:29:17

Wow thanks tapselt loads of great ideas for me to try on there thank you. I do love having a good routine, it makes juggling dd, work and home so much easier so really hope we can get that back. And dd does love praise, she loves when I clap when she does something well then looks at dh or dm (who ever else is there) expectantly until they applaude too lol!

Good luck. I spent a lot of time reading stuff on here and googling for ideas. Your dd sounds gorgeous, even if her sleep refusal is driving you to distraction - sometimes feels like they regress, you always have to be thinking of new ways to deal with their challenging behaviour.

I don't know if you have made contact with speech & language therapist but they might help you with visual aids - PECS was what we used, great to get started before pre-school nursery, even if you have to do it yourself.

osospecial Sat 24-Nov-12 08:45:25

Thanks tapsel, she is being seen by a salt who is actually introducing pecs to dd next week as she thinks dd is starting to get frustrated at not being able to communicate her needs.

osospecial Mon 26-Nov-12 23:35:49

Sitting up again with dd watching mickey mouse at 11.30 pm, she has speech therapy tomorrow and is going to be worn out for it. She was nearly nodding off at 7pm in a chair downstairs so took her up to bed at 7.30 and here we are 4 hrs later again. This is so sudden and out of character I can't help thinking there is something wrong,, but what? Don't know if any point taking her to doctors when she is perfectly fine and happy in the daytime and there is nothing I can put my finger on. I know you have given me so much advice already I just don't know what to do. I'm wondering about what some of you said about stomach pain as she put my hand on her stomach tonight. Would this only occur at bedtime and how do you know? Should I try changing her diet? She isn't having anything different the last few weeks.

Dev9aug Tue 27-Nov-12 08:46:42

Is she toilet trained? What is her poo like?,--I know too early--
Hard poo will be a sign of constipation and will lead to stomach aches. Sometimes milk late at night will also lead to stomach aches.
Does she have a balanced diet? Some peeps have reported gluten free helps with constipation if she is constipated that is.

osospecial Tue 27-Nov-12 09:49:29

Hi dev, we are trying to toilet train atm but not gng too well especially as she is so tired in day time at the moment. We are using pull ups aswell+just trying to get her to understand about using the potty. Her poo can be quite hard sometimes but others, like last night before bed, it was quite loose so don't think constipated last night but maybe bit of a bad stomach I'm not sure. She has a balanced diet+is a good eater, she does have warm milk before bed, maybe I could try stopping her milk for a while to see if that helps

osospecial Tue 27-Nov-12 09:54:57

She doesn't wake early anymore but she just will not lie down and go to sleep, if she has an ounce of energy left in her she will get back up, I tried taking her back downstairs to calm her down last night as she was pulling me to take her+even tryed going into our bed, she won't settle anywhere until she is absolutely exhausted+crashes out. I was trying anything last night, letting her go where ever she wanted instead of trying to keep her in bed just to try get her to calm down but it didn't work either, she didn't know where she wanted to go+was just in a mess+overtired

I would stop the potty training unless you know you have time off work and can just slog it out? When did she turn 3? A clear break even if it is just a month and then re-start it - making sure you are ready with visual aid (pecs), clear/easy to understand reward system for success, cloth pants etc. My ds wouldn't poo, we had him on two different medications for about a year, he could go days without a bowel movement, it made his moods very difficult and obviously he was in pain too.

I really don't know what to suggest re sleep, when do you start her bed time routine, does she have a bath, small supper (toast), then story, then bed? Is she still napping during the day, if so what time? If she needs to be out of her room, after you have tried to get her to bed, could you sit with her with no t.v, to make being there less attractive, keep the lights low, don't talk to her , just be with her. It will take time to establish a routine, if she knows she can come out of the room then she will expect to do it.

I would just keep leading ds back, take his hand, or carry him, put him back in bed, even if he got out of bed two seconds later, I would do the same, over and over, if I said anything, it would be, "bedtime" in a quiet voice. I wouldn't make eye contact. It will take a while - maybe two weeks to establish the routine, but if you are consistent, she will learn and eventually accept.

Sleep reward chart looks good. It gives rewards for getting ready for bed as well as sleeping through the night.

Maybe a trip to the library to get something like this too.

osospecial Tue 27-Nov-12 12:38:11

Ye maybe you are right about stopping the potty training for a while, it may be related as its started about the same time. She was 3 in september. I have the avakid app for the ipad as dd is a quick visual learner, she likes watching that but hasn't copied it yet. She is starting to learn pecs today so maybe in a month if it works she will be able to communicate better through that.
I start her bedtime routine at 7.30 and she is usually tired by then if she hasn't napped in day, she rarely naps in the day I try not to let her, and she hadn't yesterday, she doesn't need a nap in the day when she has had a good nights sleep.
I've tried putting her back to bed, no speaking, lying down with her, I've done it for hours, keep putting her back in but she just starts getting hysterical then with frustration after a while, the tantrum starts+she screams+cries non stop, even if I just ignore it she doesn't stop it just escalates and she gets in a right state, she doesn't seem to be able to calm herself down and that can go on hours. I know I'm messing up confusing her by giving in but I don't want to give up completly on trying to put her to bed at her usual time but after a couple of hours and no sign of her calming down+its getting so late I'm doing anything just to calm her down enough to go to sleep. I used to let her cry a bit as a baby and not rush straight to her, she settled well in her own room at a few months old+was sleeping all night and she has had a good routine and no problems, I thought I had mastered the 'stay in bed' technique although I had to lie with her+we had a good routine. I just don't know how its gone so wrong the last few weeks! And without leaving her scream+cry herself sick for 4 or 5 hours I don't see how I can do it without giving in to her, but even that's not working it just keeps her a bit calmer! Thanks for the ideas again taps, ill try anything!

I would start her bed time routine an hour earlier, if possible, so bath by 6.30, pj's, snack, drink, bathroom, brush teeth, story, bed... she could be over tired and unable to settle, so even 15 minutes earlier doing everything if that is too early. Tell her what is happening next with everything you are doing.

Has she got a nightvlight? Might be worth looking at something like that, make sure it isn't so bright she can play as normal - along with very quiet/soothing music...

If you are putting her to bed instead of leaving the room after her first escape, stay in the room, sitting/blocking door ignoring her, every 3 minutes say bed time & lead her back to bed, if she gets out wait 3 minutes do the same again.

Break the battle down, first you want her to stay in her room from a certain time of night, do this for a few nights. Once she realises you mean to stay there until it is cracked she might stay up for hours but she is learning to stay in her room. Then, eventually you want her to stay in bed from that time, then you want to be able to leave the room, possibly with you just outside it, she knows you are there, door open, keep leading her back to bed, keeping her in her room. Keeping her in her room from bed time is the first step.

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