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Bedtmes are awful - I feel like crying (again)

(28 Posts)
Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 20:59:52

DH and I are at our wits end trying to work out how to have a peaceful bedtime with DS2 who is 5. At the point of getting into bed for lights out he goes wild - agressive towards us (hitting and pinching), throwing things at us or downstairs, trying to disturb DS1, jumping on furniture.

We have tried a number of ideas to help and they are working up to a point: earlier bathtime and bedtime; using a timer to keep a control of time after his bath; a head and neck massage to calm him down.

Tonight he was particularly dreadful and provocative and wouldn't or couldn't calm down with help or with time out (one of us close by). Time out is not my favoured option but it works. Eventually. There's a lot of toys on top of the cupboards.

I can't get a handle on why he is doing this. I know that he finds school intense, and I make the evenings at home as calm as possible. It hasn't been a school day today and he's had a fab day playing a grand game with DS1 and gone out on his bike - and it's been a horrible time.

We talked with him about bedtime and agreed that one of us would stay nearby upstairs while he goes to sleep. If he is having problems falling asleep and our presence helps him to go to sleep, we are happy to do that to get him through this phase. But it's more than that alone.

It's attention seeking, and we are giving it, albeit as little as possible so that we don't reward the bad behaviour. He is strong-minded and persistent.

Does anyone have any advice, insight or suggestions that have worked for them in a similar situation.

Upandatem Sun 30-Mar-14 21:14:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 21:28:18

Yes I think that he is struggling to separate. But I can't work out why. I know that sounds like I am being intentionally dense, but I can't.

Where do I go for info on his matter?

He has always been a poor sleeper (used to wake 3 or 4 times a night). So have tried to come to better ideas to get him to switch off and relax, hence being around while he falls asleep (upstairs but out of sight) and I have been trying a nightly head and neck massage to see if that works (mixed results, so still trialling that).

He does find school intense, although he enjoys the school day. His teacher and the TAs are aware and indeed a wider cohort of help. They have been fab.

hotcrosshunny Sun 30-Mar-14 21:36:03

Maybe he is just so tired. Is it his first year at school?

I would get him into bed but not have lights out, have a low light. Sit with him for a bit and talk - don't ask him loads of questions but just have a chat about your day and see where it goes. This might be what he needs to unwind. Do this every night without fail, stop trying lots of different things.

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 21:44:18

Yes - he's in Reception. He is tired and we are running a tight ship on timings at bedtime. Interesting about the low light. Can look into that.

I usually ask about his day when we get in from school (I do the school runs - SAHP). We chat at dinner time as well. I have not asked him near to bedtime, instead have tried to get him to think of something nice, like a day at the beach or a great outing, to help him wind down.

Upandatem Sun 30-Mar-14 21:44:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 21:57:36

I agree Up. It's just another bloody awful bedtime when you think that you have done all the right things, the best thing for him and it's chucked back in your face. I'm casting about for ideas, as I'm (we are) finding it hard tonight.

We have talked through the bedtime routine with him, and asked him what he would like. He has some drawing time after bath and before a story. I thought that was helping him, as he loves to draw and I think he's usually in better spirits if he can draw in a day.

Maybe tonight is just a small step back, but it's dispiriting.

The book looks interesting. Thanks for the info. It is appreciated.

cece Sun 30-Mar-14 22:01:19

My ds1 has been a terrible sleeper for years. We finally went to the hospital recently and he has been diagnosed as ADHD. The doctor told me to wear him out more. I was sceptical but actually it is helping!

Viviennemary Sun 30-Mar-14 22:04:13

Is being in the dark a problem for him. Or he might suffer from nightmares. I absolutely agree with trying one of these lowlights.

mousmous Sun 30-Mar-14 22:06:16

can you go away for a couple of evenings?
maybe get some help from a night nanny or grandparents?

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:07:52

Did the school mention this to you? DS2s teacher and school don't think that it is ADHD as he is really well behaved at school. A friend mentioned ADHD to me, in the context of may be there was something going on that the GPs might be able to help with.

starkadder Sun 30-Mar-14 22:11:14

Does he share with his older brother? If not, would his brother be open to the idea? Sounds crazy (why disturb the other one?!) but if he is anxious it might help him and if he looks up to his brother, that might help too. My two love sharing.

hotcrosshunny Sun 30-Mar-14 22:13:46

I think when some people settle down for bed that'd when anxieties may well arise. So don't necessarily ask him a lot of questions jussee where a discussion might take you. My 4 year old asks some funny questions which have obviously bothered him in the day. However he won't tell me about what's bothered him if I ask outright. We just have a chat and I let him lead (this is at bedtime). He really relaxes and comes out with all sorts.

MerryMarigold Sun 30-Mar-14 22:14:53

What strikes me is that it is school tomorrow? Was he better last night? And even Friday night? Maybe he is finding school a bit stressful. My ds1 is borderline adhd and has always had some trouble going to sleep. I also found him worse towards the end of term, it's almost like he's taken too much in for his brain to handle and it's in overdrive.

We do something similar to hotcrossmummy, which is to lie in bed with him and chat about whatever, sometimes we make up a 'dream'. It unwinds him, do this for about 20 mins, then a no more talking rule (3 chances and then I leave the room) and he is usually asleep after about another 10 minutes of lying in silence. The tricky bit is not falling asleep myself!

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:19:14

He does share with DS1. Sorry. I left it out of the initial post as it seemed to be getting too long!

DS2 loves/adores his older brother and it has helped him in the past with learning how to get to sleep. Currently with the dreadful bedtimes it can disturb poor DS1 a lot, and I feel really sorry for him. And quick-witted DS2 has worked out that he can have maximum impact if/when he starts playing up. (Long sigh).

We have had some much calmer bedtimes, but tonight was dispiriting. May be because we had a good, happy day together. I'm going to go now and note on a calendar when the last awful ones were and see if I can get a sense of their frequency. It might make me feel a bit better.

MerryMarigold Sun 30-Mar-14 22:25:52

Check out Sunday nights! It may be a before school stressor. My dd always struggles with Mondays (she is in YR too), but by Tuesday she's got used to school again.

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:25:55


Merry - I hadn't joined up the dots on this. Yes Friday was OK, Sat was a dream compared. We hadn't really talked about school at all today, but may be it looms large in his mind?

hotcross - we have tried to make up a dream also in the past. May be we will have to tweak this process by adding in the talking about the day?

Some great ideas and insights. Many many thanks. I'm feeling a bit tearful about the kindness of strangers, who have taken the time to post, and also that I/we couldn't work it out.

sittingatmydeskagain Sun 30-Mar-14 22:28:59

He hasn't been disrupted by the clock change, has he? What time did you put him down tonight?

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:33:52

The clock change may have had an effect. I drew all the curtains and put on room lights to keep something of the usual look of their room. DS1 noticed the difference though!

I think that he went to bed at around the same time as yesterday, despite it being an hour later on the re-jigged clocks: today's 7.45pm was yesterday's 6.45pm.

antimatter Sun 30-Mar-14 22:37:26

Does he like listening to bedtime stories on CD's?
Mine loved it at that age.

starkadder Sun 30-Mar-14 22:44:14

Oh well - worth a try! Glad to hear he loves his brother tho smile. I have no more "useful" advice except to say, please don't feel bad - loads of us don't understand our children and the important thing is to try to understand them, and listen to them, and show we hear them - which is exactly what you are doing. So don't feel guilty. Good luck.

Leo35 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:44:14

DH has just come to find me to say that he is asleep in bed looking cherubic with his hands placed together under his cheek. What a difference a couple of hours makes!

Anti - Did you use headphones or did your DCs have them on a CD player in the room?

We needed some fresh ideas and new insights and thank you all for your help. I'm off to bed now, but will check in tomorrow.

antimatter Sun 30-Mar-14 22:56:45

no headphones, I think thye are too young for that
it was on cd player in their room (cassettes as it happens to start with smile)

I think it's worth trying, libraries have great choice, some even have free online audiobooks you could use via your phone or playing on a computer.

I assume he has a quitet time before bed and knows in advance what's happening.
I remember the revelation as it was of realizing to tell them 5 min and then 3 and then 1 min in advance that something's coming up - like - you are brushing your teeth in 5 min, then you are brushing your teeth in 3 min. Same with going to bed and turning light off.

PolyesterBride Sun 30-Mar-14 22:57:06

We have had problems at bedtimes - these are some of the things we have tried:

Same routine every night (works for some things eg getting teeth brushed but not so much with the general losing it)

In bed tucked in before final story - otherwise they complained about getting in to bed after storytime.

Separating children if one wasn't complying - so separate stories in separate rooms and stay in those rooms till fall asleep, then carry through. D

Story CDs - these are pretty good for quelling lights out tantrums.

Relaxation story CDs - eg this one This has worked ok a number of times.

Choosing what to dream about and then telling them if we whisper it in their ear they'll get they dream.

PolyesterBride Sun 30-Mar-14 23:00:12

Story CDs are on a cdplayer in our kids' bedroom but they are similar in age and taste so would want to listen to the same thing. It's quite low volume though and one of them often falls asleep before it's finished.

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