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To close his bedroom door

(45 Posts)
pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 04:57:36

My DS 4.11yo has woken us up every night for the last 3 years. Be hasn't had a bad dream, he doesn't need a wee, he isn't distressed or anxious or frightened - I think it's just habit, he wants to get in our bed.

I've tried reward charts.
I've tried explaining that if be doesn't let us all sleep then we're all too tired to have fun.
I've tried putting him in his sister's room for company.
I've tried silently taking him back to bed, repeatedly.
I've tried getting cross with him.
All these have been tried consistently for weeks at a time to give it chance to work, but apart from a handful of flukes there's no effect. He's been at full time Kindergarten for a year so the usual advice that he'll be tired when he starts school doesn't apply. Yet again I'm sobbing and frustrated and unable to get back to sleep after putting him back to bed 5 times in the last hour and a half. This is killing me and DH has disappeared off to the spare bed because I can't sleep. I'm so tired in the day time that I can't function and I think I'm starting to get depressed.

The one thing that stops him getting up is if I close his bedroom door, which is what I've resorted to tonight. It's open again, I only have to threaten it for it to have an effect. It makes him hysterical and for that reason I hate doing it. I'm at my wits end though and just can't think of anything else to try? I think if I try closing his door the first time he wakes up, it might work but only because he's terrified - I don't want to be the mother that scares her child into submission! I just don't know what to do anymore and I can't stop crying. Would the GP or HV help? Why won't he stay asleep?

HotSummerNights Sat 13-Aug-11 05:08:41

Do you stay outside his room after you close the door?

If not do this and talk to him and reassure him that you are still there.

Gradually move further away still talking until he falls asleep himself and stays in his room.

It may take a few nights, but it should hopefully work.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sat 13-Aug-11 05:13:46

When he wakes up, does he stay in his own bed/room or does he come into your room and try to get in bed with you?

SpareRoomSleeper Sat 13-Aug-11 05:18:54

Awww, I feel for you pjmama - sleep depravation is a form of torture so little wonder you're in tears! You can try standing outside his door like suggested. Try talking to him throughout the day about sleeping in his own bed, and possibly say you'll take away a favourite toy/computer/tv time during the day if it carries on - and do so. At his age and the state you are in, I'd say give it a go. There's also them clocks you can get for kids that tell them when they can get out of bed/ waking up time. Sorry if I'm incoherent, I'm half asleep. Big hug anyway.
And this shall pass too x

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sat 13-Aug-11 05:19:55

What I meant to say was does he wake up crying but stays in his room until you go to him, or does he get himself out of bed and come crying into your room and try to get into bed with you?

Do you leave his bedroom door open after he's gone to sleep at his usual time?

ZonkedOut Sat 13-Aug-11 05:25:05

Do you really think he's terrified, or is that just what you are worried about?

I don't really see the problem with shutting a door. Can he open it himself if needed? You could try standing outside to listen to check he's ok. You might find you only need to shut it for a while to break the habit, then open it again.

My DE is younger (2), but went through a phase of coming into our room. I'd put her back in her own bed, but sometimes it would turn into a game. I found if I shut our door (she can open her own and likes it shut anyway), she would go to it, cry outside for a couple of minutes, then calmly go back to bed by herself.

She still gets up once around 6, often, but usually stays in her room when i put her back.

Have you tried a clock or timed light? We have a groclock with DD, though with limited success - she knows she can get up when it's yellow, but hasn't quite got that she can't get up when it isn't. But your son might understand it better.

Good luck.

foxinsocks Sat 13-Aug-11 05:31:32

Just do it. It's not like you are locking him in. Close the door and get some sleep.

pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 05:35:51

His door is always left open. He used to wake up and shout, but now he gets up and comes in our room. If DH is in the spare room he'll just sneak in without waking me and I find him in bed with me in the morning. I've tried toy confiscation but it doesn't make any difference. I'm loathe to remove his favourite bedtime toy as that just feels like cruelty. If I do close his door, he screams hysterically until I open it again then promises to stay in bed if I leave it open. Then the next night he just does it all over again. He just won't stat asleep and when he was at school he'd be tired and grumpy so it's having an effect on him too. I can't ask grandparents to have him overnight as he wakes them too. Someone suggested a mattress on our bedroom floor, but I think if we go down that route we'll never break the habit. It's been going on for so long now that I'm finding it hard to be rational. DH seems less affected than me, he'd just let him in our bed rather than upset him. I'm generally the disciplinarian and DH is more laid back.

pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 05:40:45

He's had a sleep trainer clock for 18 months. We've stopped setting it as he just ignores it.

I think I'm just going to have to try the hard line and close his door. If that doesn't work I might start sleeping in my car!

Thanks everyone, it's nice to know I'm not the only one awake at stupid o'clock!

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sat 13-Aug-11 05:55:25

If you go down the route of a mattress beside your bed that your ds can quietly slip into without disturbing you if/when he wakes in the night, you won't break the habit - he will, and it could be that having the reassurance of knowing that he can be close to you if he wakes will help him sleep through within a short period of time.

foxinsocks Sat 13-Aug-11 05:58:39

I imagine if dh was being woken up every night, he might suddenly develop a disciplinarian streak ;-)

chutneypig Sat 13-Aug-11 06:29:03

How about a stairgate across his door? That way he hasn't got the feeling of separation from the door being shut that might upset him, but he can't get out. He might accept it as a compromise solution.

I hope you can sort this out, it's so hard to deal with.

MalkieFraser Sat 13-Aug-11 08:26:26

Definitely go for the mattress in your room. He's obviously seeking some kind of reassurance during the night. If it's not going to disturb you, and allow the household to get more sleep then why the hell not?

cwtch4967 Sat 13-Aug-11 08:59:46

If he gets away with sneaking in he will keep doing it. If you don't wake when he comes in put something like a rattle or bell on the door so that you hear him coming in and can return him to bed straight away. It is hard and you have to stay strong - letting him sleep on the floor will just lead to more problems in the long run.
My DS is almost 4 and has autism, he has severe sleep problems and we battle through it, I know how hard it is being awake night after night! DS sleeping in our bed is not an option I will allow unless he is sick, he has to go back in his own room.

Solola Sat 13-Aug-11 09:10:35

I always remember my mum who had 4 children saying that in hindsight she just wished that she had let my sister (no.2) just sleep in their bed for a few years rather than being up and down all night and nobody getting any sleep.

If he can creep in and not wake you then I would go for mattress on the floor in your room. I highly doubt he'll still be in there when he's 15! He is only little now.

MalkieFraser Sat 13-Aug-11 09:11:49

I disagree I'm afraid. If he was doing it for attention or for any other reason than the comfort of company close by then he wouldn't be happy to sneak in and allow the OP to remain asleep. If he's denied the reassurance of company during the night then this could just feed his anxiety. I'm firmly of the belief that children become more confident if allowed to work things out at their pace (providing everyone gets their sleep of course!)

MalkieFraser Sat 13-Aug-11 09:12:19


aquos Sat 13-Aug-11 09:22:47

Do the mattress on your floor thing, just do it. I resisted for so long with my dd. I gave in when she was 6. When she woke crying I just held her hand over the side of the bed murmuring reassuring noises. I didn't even have to wake up properly. After a week she was asking to sleep back in her room. A few weeks later we had a relapse. I moved the mattress back in with me. Only took 3 nights that time before she asked to go back to her room. I resisted for so long thinking I would make a rod for my own back. Not true.

pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 10:18:08

This morning he came running in, jumped on the bed, planted a big noisy kiss on me and said "I love you Mummy!" so I must be forgiven! He's such a lovely boy, these nighttime battles are just heartbreaking. Thanks for all your advice, I will give it some thought.

ImperialBlether Sat 13-Aug-11 10:37:19

Put a mattress on the floor, then introduce the idea of mice into the mix!

My son came into my bed for many years and I feel totally unable to give any advice. Nothing else - star charts, cash, treats - mattered more to him than getting into bed with me in the middle of the night.

Mishy1234 Sat 13-Aug-11 12:05:31

I agree with MalkieFraser. It's natural for children to seek comfort from their parents, especially during the night if they are feeling vulnerable. It is something they grow out of, although some before others of course.

DS1 (3.5) co-slept until he was about 2.5 and then transitioned into his own bed/room. He always starts the night in his own bed and often stays there until morning. Sometimes he wakes and comes in with us. In the same way as OP's son he's happy just to find a space and snuggle in until morning.

I know a lot of people won't agree with me or find a child coming into their bed unacceptable for lots of reasons. However, I believe it is the easier path in these situations if you're happy to do it.

pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 14:11:54

Ok, I've had a good think and have formulated a cunning plan.

I've set up a mattress on our bedroom floor and have given DS 3 options to think about, which I'll reinforce again at bedtime;

1) If he stays in his own bed all night, he gets a star on his reward chart. 7 stars = treat.

2) If he can't stay in his own bed, he can get up quietly and get into the mattress bed without waking us up - he won't get a star on his reward chart.

3) If he deliberately wakes us up, he will get put back in his own bed and the bedroom door will be closed. No star.

Wish me luck!

aliceliddell Sat 13-Aug-11 14:27:24

Has he got a nightlight in his room? Have you tried it the other way round, where you or dp sleep on dc's floor, moving nearer the door bit by bit,then outside, then door closed, etc? Deep sympathy for you.

Yellowstone Sat 13-Aug-11 15:06:48

I did what Solola's mum didn't do, not sure if it was laziness on my part or desperation for sleep. I had eight close together and there was always one or another who ended up in my bed. Gradually that phase passed, there was never any need to actively break anyone's habit.

I think this idea that once a child sleeps in the parents bed it will never leave to go to its own holds people back from doing the obvious thing which actually allows everyone to sleep and makes life easier all round.

pjmama Sat 13-Aug-11 15:09:02

We've no problem getting him to sleep, he's got a solid bedtime routine and goes to bed in his own room with no problems. He just won't stay asleep all night! We leave a lamp on on the landing outside his room so he has light to see by, it's not pitch black.

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