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4yo bedtime is a nightly battle - HELP! (crossposted)

(12 Posts)
LyrasOmlette Sat 28-Jan-17 19:42:10

My 4yo DS has never been a great sleeper. He hardly ever napped as a baby and woke up several times a night until he turned 3. We tried everything to little avail and the extended sleep deprivation and stress of bedtime have left me in a depression and my relationship with DH strained.

For a very brief while, we seemed to have made some headway and I could get him to sleep by 7:30pm, but for the past several months it's been back to the power struggle. Now every night he just says he doesn't want to go to bed and we end up in an hourlong power struggle that is driving me crazy, and I don't feel I'm exaggerating.

I loath bedtime and am at the end of my tether.

Otherwise, he's a sweet boy, though we also have some aggressive behaviour like calling us stupid when he's told not to do something, occasionally hitting. We do not hit in our family and though I admit I yell a lot more than I would like to be doing, we generally have a pretty calm home.

I'm exhausted and so, so tired of fighting with him over bedtime. But I don't know what to do anymore. We've tried sticker charts (very short-term improvement) and threats (taking away a toy, telly time, etc but I hate doing this and I know it doesn't work.)

Maybe it will be better when he's in school full-time in the autumn, but I'm not sure my mental health can take that much longer.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 28-Jan-17 21:19:37

What happens when he says he doesn't want to go to bed?

Ilovecaindingle Sat 28-Jan-17 21:25:21

Why do you hate carrying out your threats? Does he control his daily routine or has he boundaries there?

minipie Sat 28-Jan-17 22:23:30

Have you tried an earlier bedtime? He may be overtired and into resistant mode by 7.30 - try 6.45?

sirfredfredgeorge Sun 29-Jan-17 08:40:07

Or equally maybe he's not tired, and without any ability to entertain himself in bed (ie reading/writing etc.) doesn't want to go. Ten hours sleep is within the normal range of sleep for a 4.5 year old, so unless he needs to be up before 6am, it may not be an appropriate bed time.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 29-Jan-17 09:07:37

Sir I think a 4.5 year old can entertain themselves. I gave mine a picture book or a simple book at that age and told them if the couldn't sleep read that or talk to teddy.

Crumbs1 Sun 29-Jan-17 09:55:08

I'm with jilted johns, a four year old can bore themselves to sleep with a book, classical children's gentle music and teddy. Put him in bed. Say goodnight etc and shut the door.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 29-Jan-17 10:58:13

That's exactly what I was trying to say Crumbs smile

Lyras what's his bedtime routine now? Also what's his language like? Do you have any concerns about it? I just wondered if the hitting could be frustration at not being able to communicate with you effectively.

As all of this is getting you down, have you spoken to your HV? She may be able to give you some tips and help you with your mental health smile

LyrasOmlette Tue 28-Feb-17 14:16:43

Sorry, all, been away but grateful for the replies.

DS is very articulate, so I'm not concerned that he's struggling to express himself or make himself understood.

The routine right now: bath, PJs, story, then goodnight to DC1 and take DS to his room. Sometimes he'll start running around, saying he doesn't want to go to bed. Other times he'll get in bed, have a cuddle and song or two with me, and then when I try to tuck him in and say good night, he starts resisting. Gets out of bed, won't lie still, etc.

If he says he doesn't want to go to sleep, I tell him that's fine as long as he stays quietly in bed.

If he says he doesn't want to go to bed, I tell him that it's bedtime for everyone (we need sleep to grow, etc) and that I'm going to bed soon too.

But he keeps resisting and I lose patience so quickly.

Sometimes I take his bedtime toy away and say he can have it back when he's back in bed. Usually that makes him very distraught and I feel so bad for getting him upset.

I hate the threats (go to bed or no tv tomorrow. go to bed or no more songs/stories, etc). I know sometimes he'll do what I want just to get the reward and I hate feeling like I'm manipulating/coersing him to do what I want. (Definitely feel like I@'m relying too much on threats/rewards lately and it feels like a vicious cycle. But that's another post, I guess.)

DH usually has more success on the nights he puts him to bed. He usually calms him by telling a story. But when I tell a story, DS just starts fighting as soon as I'm done.

DH thinks DS likes the drama, knows how to push my buttons, etc. BUut I really can't take it anymore. He's driving me mad and I'm dreading bedtime every night.

Haven't tried leaving him with a book. He doesn't have a bedside lamp and the main light is very bright. I could get a little lamp for him, but I don't think that will solve the root of the problem.

LyrasOmlette Tue 28-Feb-17 14:17:43

Also: I have tried earlier bedtimes and the same thing usually happens.

drspouse Tue 28-Feb-17 14:42:00

Our DS is generally a good sleeper but occasionally decides he doesn't feel like going to bed. We tend to just say "OK, night night" and go into the living room, shut the door and if he comes in again, gently usher him back upstairs, "night night, it's bedtime". And repeat. It's never lasted more than about 10 minutes before he gets bored of basically sitting on the stairs doing nothing though I suspect it has not occurred to him that he can turn the light on in the playroom.

minipie Tue 28-Feb-17 15:55:18

When DD starts fighting bedtime, I sort of "bribe" her with a bit of extra attention from me.

For example "if you lie down and say good night nicely, I will give you 2 more cuddles and kisses/sing you a song. If you don't I am leaving right now"

Usually after the extra kisses/song she is ok.

I know sometimes he'll do what I want just to get the reward and I hate feeling like I'm manipulating/coersing him to do what I want. Er that's not manipulating, it's parenting!

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