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Please help me address my son's night tantrums- plus only DH can settle him

(11 Posts)
hackneybird Sun 21-Apr-13 12:59:54

My 3.5 yo has been having night tantrums now for about 2 months. It doesn't happen every single night but at least 2/3 times a week. It's definitely triggered by over tiredness, and we do everything we can to make sure he's not too worn out by bed te but as you know it's not always possible to do this!

What is compounding the problem is that my son is really, really attached to his Dad and favours him over me. So when he has his tantrums at night time only his Dad can settle him. Whenever I try to do it it escalates and the tantrum gets worse and worse. Obviously this is hard for my DH as he ends up having to get up at night time so he is tired out. It's affecting our relationship also as DH is always tired and grumpy, plus I feel he resents me for not being able to settle our son at night.

DH works ft whilst I work pt and spend more time with our son in the week. DH is a very very hands on Dad and a brilliant father, but our son's attachment to him is making life very tough at the moment.

I just don't know how to solve the problem. Has anyone else been through this and what can we do?

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 21-Apr-13 15:05:49

What time are he tantrums happening and what do you, or DH do to settle him?

hackneybird Sun 21-Apr-13 22:58:49

The tantrums tend to happen at 10pm and 2 or 3am. To settle him we do the usual stuff, see if he needs a drink, has he lost teddy, give him a cuddle etc. If it is me he tends to fight me off and try and hit me etc. and it gets worse and worse, then he tends to stamp on the floor.

When my husband goes in and does the same he just goes back to bed and calms down. It's very frustrating!

wiltingfast Mon 22-Apr-13 18:28:45

I think you have to persist and settle him yourself. That is my instinct anyway. Agree a night with your partner and let him sleep downstairs with ear plugs or something. Once your ds accepts you once or twice that at least will probably become a non issue.

Our 2dc have done this from tikme to time with one or other of us and that is the approach we have taken. We both work ft but I would occasionally be caught late at work and that can be a trigger for it. I think maybe its a bit of anxiety and if you act as if it has merit, they think they are right to be anxious and so it escalates.

No advice on the night tantrums I'm afraid except to try not to miss the window and remember this too will pass!

CreatureRetorts Mon 22-Apr-13 21:12:35

Who does his bedtime? Does he nap in the day? My 3.6 year old still needs a nap most days and is asleep by 8pm on a nap day. Maybe he needs more down time so he doesn't get overtired.

When he does wake I wouldn't bother asking if he wants x/y/z. Go in, stick him on the potty and straight back into bed with his teddy. Keep it calm so he settles faster.

Is he watching much tv? Maybe cut down on that especially if it's near bedtime.

MistyB Mon 22-Apr-13 21:28:30

When does he go to wake / go to bed.

Earlier bed time works every time for my DD, I need to stick to it for a couple of weeks to get it to work, it is difficult to stick to when things get in the way.

The DS's are another story but to some extend, better routine works, we have a dream catcher and use Bach flower rescue night which I'm not sure actually works (though I do think Bach Flowers work when individually selected) but the suggestion that these things will help, seem to actually help.

hackneybird Mon 22-Apr-13 22:24:41

Thanks for coming on with your suggestions everyone.

He can wake up anytime between 6 and 7am, and we try to get him to bed by 7.30pm but as Misty says, sometimes things get in the way and it can be 8pm. Like lots of children he can be very resistant to bed time and is always asking for 'five more minutes'. He dropped his nap in January, and the only way now we can get him to sleep in the day is if we are out in the car. He flatly refuses to go to sleep in his room in the day. He does need a nap in the daytime really though, as he is very physically active and has an active mind too - we're in that awkward transitional phase.

He has tv in the evenings after tea but we always do about 20/30 mins of stories in his room before bed tme.

CreatureRetorts Tue 23-Apr-13 04:21:56

I'd stop the tv. Also reduce the story time. All of this will fire up his imagination! Not what you want before bed. I notice this with my ds who's a similar age. Tv is tempting but it's not great for him.

Also when my ds hasn't had a nap, we put him to bed early - lights out by 6.30, regardless of his protests. And he'll always say he's not tired then five minutes later he's asleep grin we also ignore requests for "just one more" etc etc again because we know he's tired.

3littlefrogs Tue 23-Apr-13 04:52:15

He isn't getting enough sleep.

IME you need to be getting him to bed between 6.30 and 7pm.

Also it sounds as if he is overstimulated in the evening and his brain is in overdrive before sleep.

This may actually be night terrors rather than tantrums. With night terrors the child may not recognise where he is or who you are.

Once you adjust the routine so that he is getting enough sleep, I think the problem will sort itself out.

When mine were this age I gave them their main meal at lunch time, a sort of high tea at 5pm, play, bath by 6pm, drink of milk plus a snack , then story at 6.30, asleep by 7.00.

Dinner with DH later. Much calmer for everyone.

Lulybelle Wed 24-Apr-13 18:20:22

I could have written this exact post 3 months ago and tried all the suggestions by the posters above. In fact he just stopped on his own, no idea what changed, as in the end I stopped going to him and DP just went with it (was heavily preggers at the time) and it just started happening less. It might just be a development thing he needs to grow out of? Anyway all fine now and also after months of being a complete daddies boy (& me feeling a bit miffed) he is going through a phase of mummy will only do!

hackneybird Wed 24-Apr-13 23:32:11

I agree he isn't getting enough sleep as it definitely tends to happen when he is overtired. Typically every night has been totally fine since I wrote this post! Three nights on the trot with no issue and not a peep from him so far this evening either (obviously I am cursing myself now). He slept for 2.5 hrs in the car on Sunday when we were driving back from the in-laws and this seems to have helped redress the balance.

It's hard when a child constantly fights sleep even when they desperately need it though. He NEVER wants to go to bed even when he is yawning and rubbing his eyes.

It's difficult to get him to bed any earlier as on the days I work (I am PT, DH is FT) we can't pick him up before 5.30pm. The nursery is nearly a mile away from our house (nowhere to park so we walk) so by the time we get home it's nearly 6pm and if I try and rush the tea-bath-bed routine it inevitably backfires on me. We shall see what happens from here though, and I shall see about reducing evening telly too.

Now I just need to address his obsession with DH over me! It's getting embarrassing, I'm like the invisible womansmile

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