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Reception DD sleeping terribly and behaving worse - advice? Thoughts?

(11 Posts)
dreamsofsleep Mon 13-Jun-16 08:40:03

My DD is 5.4 and in reception. Teacher says she is well behaved, engaged, sociable with kids and adults. Although she often struggles to part from me at school gate, I think she does enjoy school to a degree.
BUT. All through the reception year her sleep has been terrible. It varies from taking an hour to two to fall asleep, to waking in the night and staying awake for 2 hours, to waking ridiculously early (5.30 this morning, and no, she was not in a good 'ready to wake' mood at that point). I would say she has on average two nights a week where she does a solid 11 hour sleep, which seems to be what she needs. She is averaging probably 10 hours, 5 nights a week and I think she is exhausted.
Have tried everything for sleep, relaxing CDs, breathing exercises, the rabbit who couldn't sleep book, always do bath and stories.
Her behaviour is erratic. Some of the time she is a 'normal' 5 yr old ie self willed and rebellious but good humoured and manageable. But maybe 60 per cent of the time she is extremely difficult and has massive tantrums at the slightest provocation. She screams and shouts the house down on such a regular basis that I really wonder if neighbours think we are in need of social services. She throws water and toys out of bath (by bath time she is usually past it in terms of tiredness), can be physically violent (usually only to her dad), and generally throws massive tantrums. On a bad day this can happen three or more times. She is friendly and outgoing but can react badly if she thinks another child has done her wrong in some way.
The first term of reception was hell, her behaviour was unremittingly awful and her sleep was ridiculous. Since then she goes through phases where she is better and worse.
She is really good for our part time nanny (I work 3 days) and for school and grandparents. Totally loses it with us.
Her teacher and senco have come up with some tips for helping her which they are going to meet me to talk about but said that's the limit of what they would do as behaviour not manifesting itself in school.
Went to gp who was sympathetic but basically said nothing she could do as case not extreme enough (for which I am grateful, obviously).
I think that she is a hyper hyper sensitive and emotional child and that the social element of school is overwhelming and exhausting for her. But I don't really understand her anger. And I am really struggling to cope with sleep issues and behaviour.
Also have very energetic and strong willed 2 yr old DS.
Has anyone had a similar experience? Anyone else found reception year to be hellish? Any thoughts?
Many thanks.

dreamsofsleep Mon 13-Jun-16 14:27:36

Hello - anyone out there? wink

minipie Mon 13-Jun-16 16:24:50

She sounds overtired and running on adrenaline. If you can get her to sleep more she will sleep more easily, iyswim.

What time does she go to bed - is there any way she can have some super early nights to help her catch up a bit? You've said she is usually past it by bathtime so maybe you could try to get her in bed by then - it will seem ridiculously early but you will probably find she goes to sleep much quicker as she's not pumped in the adrenaline yet.

Or even some midday naps at the weekend (car journey might do it?)

EssexMummy1234 Mon 13-Jun-16 20:23:45

"She is really good for our part time nanny (I work 3 days) and for school and grandparents. Totally loses it with us."

try and emulate how they treat her, and talk to a sleep specialist (use the mumsnet search thingy for previous sleep issues and specialist recommendations)

MillieMoodle Mon 13-Jun-16 20:34:52

DS is in reception (he's 5.3). He has never slept well and although he goes off to sleep no trouble, he almost always wakes in the middle of the night and gets into our bed. He will go back to sleep once in, but is then awake at about 5.30/6. He very, very rarely sleeps through the night.

I think it's separation anxiety. He always sleeps much, much better when I have time off work during his school holidays, then the first couple of weeks back at school are a nightmare. He's not clingy in the mornings though and he's generally a happy little boy. His behaviour is a bit hit and miss at the moment, although I think that's because he's overtired.

Maybe it's a combination of overtiredness and separation anxiety for your DD?

dreamsofsleep Wed 15-Jun-16 14:20:36

Thanks so much for all the responses - I think they are all spot on. Millie I think it's pretty much a combination of same factors for my DD too. Mini pie the aim is to have her asleep by 7.15 but it's often way after 8 before she goes off - and yes, I think she is chronically overtired which is quite hard to get on top of as its a vicious circle. Essex mummy I do try to be like the nanny and grandparents in how I felt with her but they are very businesslike and I really struggle to be like that as I'm so emotionally involved.
I had kind of lost faith in sleep specialists as we consulted one when DS was a baby and they really didn't add anything to what I already knew. But maybe there is a better specialist out there. Thanks again

SolomanDaisy Wed 15-Jun-16 14:40:59

I sympathise, my DS is nearly five and in reception and only gets about ten hours most nights. He has never needed huge amounts of sleep, but he needs 10.5 to not be over-tired. With us it is the same at weekends. It takes him at least an hour to go to sleep at night (last night it was 9.30 and he woke at 6.30). We've started restricting electronic stuff in the evening and sugar all day but neither seems to have made a difference.

minipie Thu 16-Jun-16 16:42:42

Is there any way you can get her to bed earlier, say lights out by 6.30 (or even earlier...) maybe not every night but some - especially when her behaviour seems to be getting worse during the afternoon.

minipie Thu 16-Jun-16 16:50:32

Soloman my DD is similar, she is 3.5 and only sleeps 10 hours at night, ideally she really needs 11.

At the moment we can usually make up the difference by enforcing a post nursery nap in the buggy but I am dreading school starting as that will not be possible any more. And early nights are tricky due to work.

dreams I am not convinced most sleep specialists can help with this kind of "wired" child who wants to live on less sleep than they need. As far as I can tell they are more about dealing with kids who won't stay in bed or sleep alone or who wake all through the night. We don't have those problems (any more), she just won't sleep enough! But maybe there are some specialists who are different. Please let me know if you find one smile

BrightandEarly Fri 17-Jun-16 16:34:39

Just to enter a contrary view on sleep consultants:

We have been on our knees with DD's bedtimes for so long I can't even remember. She's sensitive, anxious, very active, doesn't want to sleep etc etc. Hundreds of requests for water, pillows, cuddles at bedtime, and in the end we had resorted to lying on the floor next to her bed until she was asleep.

We consulted a sleep expert and it had been totally worth it. DD was indeed running on adrenaline and in just a couple of weeks of getting her to bed earlier we are starting to notice a great improvement in her behaviour at bedtime and during the day.

The sleep consultant developed a tailored version of the 'rapid return' technique for us and coached us through it. She also suggested a number of other really sensible adjustments to our bedtime routine. The first night was horrendous (100+ returns) but within about 3 days it was completely sorted.

I think a lot of the value is in someone giving you the confidence to know what you're doing is the right thing, in spite of it being hard at first.

DD is nearly 4 by the way.

Good luck flowers

JuxtapositionRecords Fri 17-Jun-16 16:42:08

I agree with minipie on earlier bedtime if you can, I know it's tough getting in, dinner etc. Does she have to have a bath everyday? This might be hyping her up especially if it's causing a tantrum. Any juice or TV before bed, could you try and stop those? Basically as soon as she gets home from school, you want things in 'wind down' mode. Quiet activities like puzzles, colouring etc only. Just until she is a bit older and more settled in school.

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