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help! anger at bedtime

(16 Posts)
salcol Fri 24-Jun-11 20:13:22

Can anyone please advise on any tips that may solve this problem?!:
My 14 month old boy exhibits behaviour at bedtime that says "i just simply CANNOT believe that you are literally going to walk out the door and leave me on my own here in my cot. Why mummy why?!!?". IT's real horrible crying and shouting with the occasional lashing out (not at me, but at his cuddly bunny that he needs to sleep). It's sadness, rage and despair. It's as if he really doesn't trust me that everything is going to be ok, where the one thing that he knows and loves, is 'abandoning' him. I don't know what to do.
He's always slept through the night and is generally a very good sleeper, it's just the getting to sleep that's the problem. If he falls asleep on me, that's fine, but on a bad day that can sometimes take up to an hour, maybe more, and he's getting heavy, so my arms, and sanity, can't take it much longer! I so desperately want to create a little boy that is happy in himself and is confident that it IS ok to go to sleep on his own, but every technique i try just does not work.
I have created a rod for my own back by letting him get used to falling asleep with me cuddling him (standing up in his room, gently rocking etc), and i hate myself for that as it's not fair on either of us.
If i leave him when he's crying, he loses it, gets so wound up and so angry that i can tell it's doing his little brain no favours. If it was just crying / sniveling, i would be ok to at least try to let him cry it out, but it's anger, real rage and i just can't do that to him.
He's got some separation anxiety issues, but is fine with grandma (my mum), but not always with my husband as most of the time, mummy is the only one that will do, so he needs me to fall asleep as well.
i need a technique that he will be happy to do. i can't just leave him, nothing seems to work. I fell so sorry for him, as he's obviously really struggling with it and is so upset.
The whole thing of leaving him for 5 mins, then going back in to comfort him and walk away, then leave it 10 mins, then 15 mins, etc etc, just does not work. When i walk back in, he gets so cross with me that i left him in the first place and it actually makes him worse, and then walking out again sends him completely over the edge.
Please help!!!!!

Iggly Fri 24-Jun-11 20:15:56

What about laying him down and keeping your hand on him, stroking or patting him? While saying night night, mummy's here (then gradually say less as he relaxes keeping your hand on him)? That's what I do with DS when he's upset at bedtime, with the odd cuddle.

salcol Fri 24-Jun-11 20:24:39

Nope, tried it, and it's a no go. If i'm in the room, he's standing up, reaching for me, wanting to be picked up. My presence seems to wind him up, it's as if he thinks that if i'm there i should be giving him a cuddle. He won't lie down on his own, and when i lie him down, he gets really cross that i'm trying to do it and stands straight back up again.
It's driving me nuts!

Joolyjoolyjoo Fri 24-Jun-11 20:32:21

Argh! I had this with dd1- it's horrible. People kept telling me to just "walk away" but it just went against all my instincts and I couldn't do it. I used to sit on the landing with a puzzle/ book and keep talking to her as calmly as I could through the door (slightly ajar, but so she couldn't see me)

I can't say that it worked like a dream, but at least a) she couldn't see me, as otherwise she was as you describe and b) I felt better, knowing that she knew I was there!

I tried the stroking thing, but as soon as I would try to creep away, she would wake up and scream the place down!

Whatever, don't despair! DD1 did eventually learn to go to sleep by herself not long after (although I'm sure at the time it seemed to be taking eons, and I was sure it would never happen!) I'm sure your ds will be the same!

salcol Fri 24-Jun-11 20:45:41

Hey thanks for kind words, yes you're right it is rather heartbreaking and yes it does seem like everything is taking such a long time!
I'm just not sure if he's using the screaming as a means to get his own way or not, as he knows full well that if he goes nuts, then i'll come back in and pick him up? I'm pretty sure that's definitely NOT the case, as to me it seems pretty damn obvious that in his own little mind at the moment it's real distress. Dunno, just a question. Is he too young for this, or could this be a possibility?

Joolyjoolyjoo Fri 24-Jun-11 20:56:01

It is really hard, isn't it? I must admit, there came a point when I decided that I "knew" dd1 well enough to know what was crying with temper and what was genuine distress, I think about the age your ds is (hazy memory!) Until I felt confident that she wasn't ill/ distressed/ hungry etc, I just couldn't leave her. I needed that confidence in myself to be able to know that she was just playing up- does that make sense??

Iggly Fri 24-Jun-11 21:16:18

DS's crying changed as he got older, you could tel he was annoyed and I had to be quite firm with lying him down. Also I found talking to him made a difference - saying it was bedtime in a firm voice made a difference.

salcol Fri 24-Jun-11 21:29:42

thanks again for words, yep it's definitely hard! Re the confidence thing joolyjoolyjoo, i know exactly what you mean, it does make alot of sense. I feel that i do know him well enough, i can tell when it's genuine distress, i was wondering (hoping maybe..) if i could have got it wrong. But no, mumma's instinct is a powerful thing. My own mum keeps telling me to leave him and that he's playing up, but i refuse to as i can tell that he is genuinely upset and the one thing he wants is his mummy, so i fell i can't deny him that. Wow i wish these 'baby things' came with a manual!
Iggly, as far as being firm with him about lying down and that it's bedtime, unfortunately that backfires and he gets really cross that i'm being firm with him. I feel that he trying his hardest, without the ability of speech, that all he really wants is a cuddle, and i'm telling him no he's got to lie down, and he thinks 'why aren't you understanding me mummy? Just please give me a cuddle', so when his best attempts at trying to communicate with me have the opposite effect of what he wants, he just gets so upset and desperate that anger takes over. Ooo it's hard.

julantal Fri 24-Jun-11 21:30:13

how about a chart-- can you make up a nighttime routine chart with real pics of him doing to various activities that he would normally do at night-- ie take a bath, get pjs on, read book, lie in bed, lights out etc.... this way he would have a visual-- they use this tech in my DD daycare. rewards as deemed appropriate by you-- talk about it-- what you expect-- be simple and straight forward-- tell him you will leave, and that he must stay in bed-- if not this is what will happen-- "i will place you back in bed- no words, avoid interacting with him after a certain point. your are in charge-- not him-- it breaks your heart-- i know-- but it will do him the best in the long run-- it takes three days (plus) to break a habit.

good luck-- it wont be easy-- but give the pic chart a try. have him help make it. get everyone involved- grandma, hubby etc.

be calm, be patient and be consistent

salcol Fri 24-Jun-11 21:34:29

ooh the chart idea, like it, will give it a try, nice idea, thanks!

julantal Fri 24-Jun-11 23:50:38

another thing i used was a night light that plays music and projects a scene on the ceiling-- i have one by fisher price-- have used with both my girls--- it has atimer - plays and projects for 10 min-- good transition

Iggly Sat 25-Jun-11 11:03:04

Yes I know what you mean about wanting a cuddle - I pick DS up, give him a cuddle then lay him down. I won't ignore him reaching for a cuddle (I'm a wuss!)

salcol Sat 25-Jun-11 13:09:02

Problem with a night light/music, is that i don't want him to have to rely on it to fall asleep. We're trying to get him used to being ok sleeping anywhere, he has his bunny which is the one constant night time thing, so long as he has that he's ok. Maybe my tactics just aren't soft enough? Maybe i'm so desperate to get him to be ok with going to sleep on his own that I'm projecting that anxiety onto him? Maybe i need to go back to square one and be more gentle with the whole process? Or maybe i need to go the other way, put him in his cot, say goodnight and walk away? Oh i don't know!?!?!!

julantal Sat 25-Jun-11 15:06:08

i know what you mean-- i have travelled with the nightlight thing-- but its one small price to pay for their security-- try what works for you the bunny is a great idea-- add that to the chart with pics. i really liked what supernanny had to say about the bedtime routine== it is harsher than what feels normal but giving in is part of the issue-- they will wear you out-- and push your buttons-- heck it has worked so far-- be strong!

Sammie99 Mon 27-Jun-11 13:07:25

Same problem!! I tried the bedtime routine chart thingie, took a LOTTTTTT of time for her to get it!!! I think she's finally getting around it..Its so much better than just 'walking away' and feeling guilty later on!!! Thanks..smile

salcol Tue 28-Jun-11 19:45:33

One thing i may mention, i didn't before because it didn't occur to me that it may be relevant..but i actually think it might be quite a large factor: my husband is away alot, weeks at a time, but when he's home and he does the bedtime thing, there's a little shout from our little one when he puts him to be, but no manic crying and screaming, and he manages, some how, get him to lie down and chill and he can walk away whilst little one is still awake. And hey presto, he's asleep within 5 minutes. So... I reckon it's definitely a mummy thing. Maybe little one is so happy that daddy's here that he loves being put to bed by him, and so when i put him to bed, he realises daddy isn't here and so needs to cling on to me all the more?

Another thing i'm thinking of doing is drastically rearranging his bedroom - would this help, or send him into a spin of confusion?
Or transforming his cot into a bed with no sides, so that he may not feel so 'caged in' at bedtime? I realise this will mean about a week of me putting him back to bed every 5 mins, but he should eventually get the message..?

Ideas please??!!?!

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