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Normal 8 year old behaviour? Or something else?

(17 Posts)
Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 06:31:05

DS is 8, and is a genuinely lovely boy most of the time. Affectionate and friendly and chatty and generally has nice manners etc. Can be a bit boisterous (running around the house like a whirling dervish if he’s bored) and a bit entitled (mummy can you get me a drink) but 95% of the time totally fine.
However at the moment bedtimes are another story. It’s like a switch flicks, suddenly a tiny thing will trigger a really OTT response. He’ll start laughing in our faces, throwing things around the room, being really defiant and disobedient and this will go on for about 45 minutes, and then there will be another flick of the switch, he’ll burst into tears and apologise and want lots of cuddles and reassurance and then it will come out that he’s anxious about something the following day.

We talk all the time and I am responsive and proactive in fixing issues at school etc, I’m as sure as I can be that he’s not being bullied and has plenty of friends. Teacher is generally positive about his behaviour at school and he loves it when he’s there. He also does this at weekends too, so it’s not just when he has school the following day. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, and I have no idea if I’m handling it properly. He’s completely aware that his behaviour is unacceptable and would never do this for Grandma for example. He’s also physically big and strong so I can’t pick him up and put him in his room for example.

Any suggestions?

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pastandpresent Mon 05-Oct-20 06:44:22

What's bothering him so much? If he is only like this at the bed time, there must be some reason. Especially after 45 minutes he changes and be apologetic. Is he afraid to go to sleep?

Everywherethatmarywent Mon 05-Oct-20 06:47:08

For a start I’d take away or seriously reduce screen and computer time. My seven year olds behaviour can be shocking if she has been on it too much. We have a rule of no screen time two hours before bed now.

Slightlybrwnbanana Mon 05-Oct-20 06:47:14

What is your current bed time routine like? And is he going to bed too early/too late? Could you talk to him the next day about what you could do together to make his bedtime better for him, maybe he could tell you something you haven't thought of? It does sound rough, and you both probably get tense knowing it is coming!

fruitypancake Mon 05-Oct-20 06:47:23

That all sounds really familiar. We have DS, now 10 who would often choose bedtime to be upset/ angry about what had happened at school that day. This is definitely behaviour born out of anxiety and is normal for it to come out at bedtime. Have you tried asking him earlier on in the day if anything is worrying him? We tried calming techniques such as deep breathing. There is a great book which they can fill in , think it's called my inner chimp or similar. I would suggest that your son needs extra love and understanding. I know it's hard and frustrating when you are wanting to get them to sleep for their own good and the sake of your evening

Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 06:49:00

I don’t know. It feels like he prolongs bedtime as long as possible until he’s so exhausted that he will fall asleep immediately. He’s always taken a while to go to sleep, but previously was quite happy flicking through books and talking to his teddies.

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Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 06:51:11

I think screen time is related. We’ve removed his iPad for this reason for a couple of days. We’ve always had a really strong bedtime routine which has never deviated. Sometimes he kicks off before his bath and that ‘resets’ him. Normally it’s when it’s time to brush teeth or read stories. Then some tiny weeny thing will turn into a mega burst of rage and then it’s an hour and a half of total shit.

OP’s posts: |
moveoverhogger Mon 05-Oct-20 06:56:41

I could have wrote your post a year ago, DD was exactly the same, no punishment seemed to work, we had weeks where she was ok and would reward her, but then something would flick in her and we'd be back to square one. This went on for 4 months, I can't give you a solution, just that things gradually started to get better and now she goes to bed without any fuss. But it was a really stressful time for us, she took no notice of anything we said and it was almost like she was in a daze laughing in our faces when we would shout at her, she's not a naughty child in general so this was a real change for us. We just put it down to a phase.

pastandpresent Mon 05-Oct-20 07:12:28

Do you think bed time is too early for him?

Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 07:14:06

We normally do bath at 7.30, stories and cuddles and faffing about from 8 and then into bed around 8.30 so I don’t think particularly so? He’s very tired in the mornings. He’s currently not dropping off till around 9.45pm which feels far too late sad

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bigarsebelinda Mon 05-Oct-20 07:22:48

I'd say 8.30 is too late for an 8 yo. Perhaps he's overtired and that flips him. Maybe the routine too long now his older. ? Perhaps a quick shower would better. Brush teeth before hand.

Is it worse since return to school? My child found the switch back to school and consequent tiredness and homework hard to handle = this kind of reaction.

Too much a bedtime is always a bad move.

bigarsebelinda Mon 05-Oct-20 07:23:29

* His = he is

pastandpresent Mon 05-Oct-20 07:42:07

My ds is a very bad sleeper since he was a baby. Never went to bed before 9 even as a toddler.
At around 8, we sent him to room around 9/10. We never had routine. Then he normally reads until he falls asleep. He is always fine and full of energy in the morning.
Maybe the quality of sleep is the problem rather than length is he struggle to fall asleep and still tired in the morning.

Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 09:07:07

Thank you for all your replies. He is struggling to an extent with things being ‘back to normal’ and really hates the fact that he has to go to ASC a couple of times a week due to my job. He absolutely loved it when I worked from home for 6 months and he only had to Go to keyworker school! Am going to think up some strategies to try and move forward with this. His emotional responses to certain things are huge overreactions-and I’m sure they’re anxiety based, but it’s like handling an unexploded bomb. Very stressful.

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Whattodo121 Mon 05-Oct-20 09:08:39

We also lost my mum right at the beginning of lockdown very suddenly and she was much loved by us all. I think he’s worried we all might die suddenly. He’s become anxious about his health and my health particularly.

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MutteringDarkly Mon 05-Oct-20 16:54:35

In that case, maybe treat it as separation anxiety? I would cut back the routine (mainly to avoid trigger points) so pick some other way that works for you. We do a shower straight away when we get back from school, then into pjs and chill out. Supper etc, then at 7.30 it's just "toilet then toothbrush" and into bed. Stories together, bit of reading on their own, then I pop back in for lights out and extra cuddle.

In your position, I'd consider all the stuff you might do for a much younger child anxious about separation - one of your worn T-shirts in their bed so it smells of you, giving them something of yours to look after, staying with them until they are sleepy after lights out, pottering about upstairs after their bedtime so they can still hear you, taking a photo when they're asleep and showing them the next day as proof you check on them through the night etc etc

I think a lot of us adults are feeling generally anxious right now, and our children pick up on that and feel worried too (but won't quite know why).

MutteringDarkly Mon 05-Oct-20 16:57:03

Sorry - cut off my own paragraph. I wanted to say I'm so sorry to hear you lost your mum. Do try to take care of yourself and your own grief, this must be an incredibly difficult time.

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