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Bedtime shenanigans - who is right, us or DD?

(50 Posts)
chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 11:52:16

We’re trying to get DD(12) in bed at a decent time at the moment as she’s a complete pain in the backside at going to bed at a reasonable time. She always has been since she was born.

She reads in bed for ages every night but when we tell her to turn her light off at 9pm, she has a myriad of excuses why she can’t; needs to finish the chapter, has to feed the gerbils, needs to go to the toilet. We give her a 15 minute warning to do these things, then a 5 minute warning, but then there’s a lot a messing around which can go on until after 10pm. This is annoying for us as we can’t settle, watch Homeland telly and if we don’t keep on top of it and keep telling her to go to bed, she’d still be awake until after we went to bed. This is an issue because we have to peel her out of bed in the morning and she does suffer from the lack of sleep.

So… inspired by Divas and Doorslammers, we are removing a minute from the following night’s reading time for each minute she messes around after she’s been told to turn her light off. But I’ve got myself a bit confused with the logistics of this.

For example, with this sanction in mind, on Tuesday night she messed around and finally settled at 9.21pm. So she was told she would have to turn her light off at 8.39pm on Wednesday night.

Last night she put up a lot of resistance to this and whilst she wasn’t able to read from 8.39pm last night, we had to remove the light from her room as she kept turning it back on and she still messed around and finally settled at 9.12pm.

She says she should only lose 12 minutes of reading time tonight as her lights off time is usually 9pm. But we say she should lose 33 minutes as she was supposed to settle at 8.39pm and didn’t.

Which one do you think?

DD is a master of loophole finding and maximising situations to her advantage, so whilst on the one hand we’re fairly happy to go with her method as she has agreed to it, we have a sneaking suspicion that she has found a loophole that means she’s not as penalised as we think she is. But then we can’t work out if that matters as last night she did settle at 9.12pm compared to 9.21pm the previous night. confused

Help! Who is right, us or DD?

ChippingInBatshitArse Thu 07-Nov-13 11:56:44




a bit more wine

YOU are right. But, that girl is going to go far smile

I would tell her though, that if you have to turn her light off tonight you will be removing all of the lights from her room until she can behave. Get tough.

PinkBerryGuy Thu 07-Nov-13 12:01:56

I would get all of her lights and electricals connected to a single fuse in the control panel, then at 8.45 she gets warned that lights out is 9pm and at 9pm flcik the switch and plnuge her room into darkness...... ; )

Mind you, by the sound of it, she'd probably just stock candles under her bed. lol.

Could you not just tell her that at 9pm you want ehr in her room and not to disturb you guys again and then she casn read and stuff till she wants? she'll soon sort herself i would think when she's tired all the time.

NoComet Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:20

DD is right, you are on a total hiding to nothing trying to reinforce a 9pm lights out on a 12y.

DD1 and me would tolerate midnight, DD2 who gets up earlier sometime between 10.30 and 11pm.

Scouts and gymnastics don't even get home until 9.

Seriously you are trying to win an undeniable battle, don't try.

It will end in rears - yours

MerryMarigold Thu 07-Nov-13 12:02:38

Does she generally do as asked? Is it just around bedtimes?

Personally I think you are right, as it is each minute she messes about that is taken off. How about offering a 10 o'clock bedtime on Friday if she manages to be settled by 9 every night on the school days. Or, change the deadline to 9.15, but no loopholes.

NoComet Thu 07-Nov-13 12:14:08

Honestly it's plain cruel to make her lie in the dark doing nothing.

You can't make her sleep, you can't do anything about the hormones that make teens want to stay up late and be horrible in the morning.

Even, crack of dawn DD2 sleeps in sometimes now she's 12.

You've been fighting her to bed all her life?

Perhaps the poor child's trying to tell you something - leave her alone, let her learn to judge when she is tired.

Seriously ease off and in the Christmas holidays let her have far more freedom, she needs to learn when she is tired.

Senior school children need space to unwind and escape, didn't you ever stick your head into a book until 1am and forget everything, I sure as he'll did.

MerryMarigold Thu 07-Nov-13 12:18:02

I agree with some of this, but sleep deprivation is chronic in our society. Saying, "leave it up to her to judge" is a bit silly as we all go to bed too late sometimes left to our own devices, and don't function well the next day. I don't think pre-teens have the maturity and self control to go to bed when they need to, personally. However, if she is lying awake for ages after the lights are out, then the agreed bedtime needs to be later. If she is going to sleep within 10-15 minutes then it's fine.

cornflakegirl Thu 07-Nov-13 12:21:33


You are right - guess it depends whether you think that her method is more likely to gain her compliance. Your post reads like this has been going on a while, so I would be tempted to enforce it strictly. (I generally like to encourage negotiation, but not on the back of sustained mucking about.)

It could get silly though if it takes a while for her to comply. Maybe you could take 30 minutes off tonight, and carry the remaining 3 over till Friday night - I imagine that it will be harder for her to go to sleep if lights out gets too early.

Oh, and I disagree with the "let her realise when she's tired" thing - I'm a night owl, get a second wind, stay up past midnight, and then can't get up in the morning. I have to discipline myself to go to bed at a sensible time (mostly). Fine to give her free rein in the holidays, but not on a school night. Although you could maybe offer her the carrot that once she's proved she can switch the light off as instructed, you'll move bedtime gradually later as long as it doesn't make her tired in the morning?

Bowlersarm Thu 07-Nov-13 12:21:44

I think you need to be more flexible and give her a later bedtime.

I have three DSes and they all need different amounts of sleep. Ds1 needs the least, and rather than fight every night we agreed to a time he would be in bed - around 9.30 at this age - but he was allowed to read until he was tired as long as he stayed in bed. (He's now 17 and normally takes himself off about 11.30, he just doesn't need a lot of sleep)

Ds3 aged 13 goes to bed at 9.30 and falls asleep immediately. Much to his annoyance he does need a lot of sleep.

GaryTheTankEngine Thu 07-Nov-13 12:21:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Primrose123 Thu 07-Nov-13 12:27:58

I was your DD! I just couldn't go to sleep at that age. If I had to lie in the dark, I would just stay awake and be miserable all night. Even now, I have to read and read until I feel my eyes start to droop, and only then can I go to sleep.

I think 9 is far to early for lights out. How about in bed at 9 with no tv or electronic devices, and then she has an hour to read quietly, and aim to turn the light off at 10?

ChippingInBatshitArse Thu 07-Nov-13 12:30:46

It is utter madness to allow a 12 year old to decide when they are 'tired', it's no wonder so many children are too tired to function properly at school. She clearly does not need a later bedtime either as she is tired and having to be dragged out of bed in the mornings. What she needs is parental discipline to ensure she is getting enough sleep - she is a child.

ChippingInBatshitArse Thu 07-Nov-13 12:32:27

9 o'clock is not 'too early' for a 12 year old. 10 o'clock is far too late - especially for a child who is not waking naturally in the morning. Honestly, it is no wonder teachers are struggling with tired children.

Madamecastafiore Thu 07-Nov-13 12:32:50

Removing the fuse from the fuse box that covers her room will put an end to arguments.

chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 12:34:51

Yesterday DD got the bus home from school as she forgot I pick her up on Wednesdays. Her excuse for this was that she was tired and forgot what day of the week it was. The lack of sleep does affect her and whilst she might be a night owl, she needs to go to sleep at a good time.

She was at a friend's last weekend and went to sleep at 1am on Friday night and 11.30pm on Saturday. So we are also trying to help her catch up from that. She can't cope with a different sleep time at the weekend though, we have already tried that and we spend the whole week trying to re-establish the weekday routine.

She does have mild ASD traits and we have always had sleep issues with her. She is fixated on the lights off time of 9pm to the point of refusing to turn it off any earlier, but not enough to not turn it off later. She genuinely does not see the connection between going to sleep at night and being tired all day. She sees the tireness as being the result of having to get up early for school, not because she has gone to sleep late.

I also remember lying in bed not being able to sleep and I also would have read until the sun came up if I'd been allowed, so I do understand. But I am not being cruel and 9pm is not too early for her. She's just started y7 so just turned 12 and when she settles, she goes to sleep.

We are tackling other behaviour problems at the moment as well, but we think lack of sleep is at the root of them all so concentrating on that at the moment. When she's not tired, she's lovely. We have sorted out everything that prevents her from going to sleep, but now we are just working on making sure that happens at a reasonable time.

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 07-Nov-13 12:49:09

I'd be saying that if she can get up for a full week on time, then she can have her lights off at 9:05. But her lights would be turned off by me at 9pm sharp. No excuses. You need to reinforce the connection.

ChippingInBatshitArse Thu 07-Nov-13 12:53:07

Well, that changes my response a little, it would have been helpful to have known that from the outset.

Given her ASD traits, I would tell her that lights out will be 8.30 as she is unable to follow the rules (getting up for xyz after 'lights out') but that if she can show you that she can follow the rules it will be changed to 9.

Tell her that it is your job as her parent to look after her and that part of that is making sure she gets enough sleep. Being very focussed on the 'rules' and not her behaviour should help.

kickassangel Thu 07-Nov-13 12:55:51

Have you has a diagnosis for her? I think you could potentially look into that.

Also, does she fall asleep once the lights are out?

How about you say 8.45 end if reading, then 9 to be in bed with lights out.

I have similar issues with dd who is dx ASD and struggles to sleep at night and get up. We actually go up to her room to supervise and make sure she gets things done, then turn lights out and I even lie next to her and calm things down so she is more relaxed.

I think you need to e a bit more hands on not just call up. If she is on the spectrum then she won't have the same amount of self control that you should expect of other kids her age.

chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 12:56:56

Sorry. I didn't mention it before as it's hard to know when it's the reason for the behaviour or an excuse for it. But it does explain her difficulty with sleep in general.

chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 13:04:01

She's been query ASD since nursery with EP assessments at the end of each key stage but we've never pushed for a dx. We (& the teachers) just use the knowledge to inform strategies for dealing with her or managing behaviour.

The minute sanction for each minute of messing around is an attempt to give her an incentive to actually settle at the right time. Otherwise it just drags on and on and before you know it an hour has passed. The actual time is irrelevant, I feel, as whatever we move it to just means a new time for the the faffing to start.

We wondered if it was attention seeking as we spend a lot of our evenings getting her into bed and dealing with her many requests or making sure she has got back into bed after going to the loo etc. So we tried to back off and keep the involvement to a minimum, other than reinforcing the times.

YDdraigGoch Thu 07-Nov-13 13:04:32

I think allowing a 12 year old to decide when bed time is and what time she goes to sleep is ridiculous!! She's 12 for heaven's sake.

OP - is there anything you could do to help her relax and make bed time nicer? Can you spend some cuddly one on one time with her, in her room at bed time so she comes to enjoy it? Could you read to her (never too old to be read to), or perhaps give her some audio books to listen to while she drifts off?
And maybe work with her backwards from the time you;re real final deadline is for lights out/sleep time (say 9.30) and do a little timetable for getting all the other things done before then?

NoComet Thu 07-Nov-13 13:40:55

Y7 is tiring, but it's not the sort of tiredness that's cured simply by more sleep.

It's the stress based kind of tiredness caused by too many new things all at once, too many things to remember.

DD2 copes with it by demanding hugs and doing gymnastics for hours at a time on the trampoline.

DD1 reads and draws occasionally.

Many MNers drink wine, DH buries had in technical greekery that no normal person would feel relaxing. I read, watch TV or MN.

In the end Y7 tiredness is cured by becoming a Y8, ie it gets better when it isn't all new.

I suspect that's even more true for your DD if she has ADD routine liking tendencies, it certainly has been for order preferring DD2'S.

kickassangel Thu 07-Nov-13 16:15:06

Can you do a list of things that need to be done, such as feed pets, go to toilet etc. then she has to check that she has done everything before getting into bed to read. Then turning out lights is the absolute last thing.

We so this, and often one if us sits with her as we say do you need water, the toilet, have you out yours ckothes away etc. when everything is done she can get into bed to read. If she spends too long faffing then there is less reading time. So she faffs first from about 8.30, then has reading time with lights out at 9.30.

If she appears after that there is a non emotional response so she gets water and us told to go to bed. I become like a robot. Yes you may go to the toilet now go straight to bed. If she really can't sleep then she gets to read for 15 minutes then lights out.

chicaguapa Thu 07-Nov-13 16:57:55

We have tried all that kickass. There's always a reason for getting up again. hmm

What I can't work out is if she was supposed to settle at 8.39pm last night, but settled at 9.12pm, how much comes off her reading time tonight?

a) 12 mins - DD says the period from 9-9.12pm is the important bit as she has already had the 21 minute penalty where she couldn't read.


b) 33 mins - We say it was the period 8.39-9.12pm where she didn't settle (and didn't follow the rule).

Using b) if she hadn't made a fuss, she could have settled straight away and been back at 9pm tonight and had all her reading time.

But with a) she could still have messed around for 21 minutes last night (albeit not reading) and not lost any reading time tonight. But then in either case she would have still been settled for 9pm tonight, which is the goal at the end of it anyway.

I know it probably seems like we're overcomplicating it, but we've been caught out before and we can't change the rules halfway through when we realise we've got it wrong. grin

PolterGoose Thu 07-Nov-13 17:09:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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