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At wits end 5 yr old and night times

(46 Posts)
feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 11:37:08

I have posted a couple of similar posts recently but I am really at my limit now. Can barely talk to dd now which isn't good.
For the last 6 weeks she will not stay in her bed at night. Previous to this have had no issues. If we put her back she has a huge screaming fit and makes herself sick. She shares a bedroom with her little brother who is terrified when she does this. She gets out of bed before she is even fully back in. It's exhausting. Most nights we give up and she comes into our bed. But she doesn't sleep well. Faffs about, isn't enough room for us all in there and she insists on sharing my pillow and tapping me on the shoulder etc.
She has some anixety in the day and won't let me go to the loo etc. I have been to the hv, gp and school and tried all their suggestions. Nothing has worked.
What on earth do I do? We are all so miserable and tired

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Thu 16-Mar-17 11:44:10

Well for starters if anyone should be in your bed at night it should be your son, he shouldn't be disturbed by his sister, and by letting her in with you it's rewarding her poor behaviour.

I'll get flamed for this but if this was one of mine and all the "gentle" approaches hadn't worked, I'd be getting good very tough on her.

Back to bed, if she makes herself sick change her saying nothing, no interaction at all, then back to bed,repeat et al. Eventually she'll get bored of it and stop.

I'd possibly implement a rewards chart if I thought it would work too.

Sounds crap OP, you have my sympathy! Fingers crossed you crack it soon and you all start sleeping better.

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 11:51:34

The only way I could see it thru is if ds was in our bed as he wouldn't be disrupted so much.
The reward chart has failed. She says she doesn't care. I have even tried given her a antihistamine at night to aid sleep but it doesn't work.
I honestly feel like bringing ds into our bed and just locking our door sad
Would that be awful?

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Thu 16-Mar-17 11:57:18

Not at all! she is 5, she knows how for press your buttons and is doing it.

Put him to bed in your room at the start of the night so he isn't disturbed by her when she starts.

every time she ends up in your room, you are giving her what she wants so the next night when she wants that again, she knows that if she screams and carries on , you'll let her.

I would be very hard on her now if she were mine as she is more than old enough to understand how we should behave and that her behaviour is not acceptable.

make her room safe so she can't hurt herself in there and let her carry on, when it gets her nowhere I am confident the behaviour will stop. Ignore her, no interaction at all. When she has a good night, shower her in praise. Make the good behaviour more appealing.

I'd also be stopping at any clubs, classes she does outside of school, playdates etc and tell her if she doesn't sleep at night she must be too tired to do them. She won't like that I'm sure and will soon stop her bad behaviour.

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:01:12

the trouble is, that she has learnt that the longer/harder she screams, you will eventually give up and take her into your bed. (totaly sympathy, I understand why)

This means she will be much harder to convince that this isn't going to happen if she keeps on.

The only thing I can think of is to work on this one step at a time.

first. ban her from your bed. She is not allowed into it at night under any circumstances ever. Spell this out to her before bed, make it very clear, as of now, not in Mummy and Daddy's bed.
But it sounds as if going straight to her alseep on her own in her room is too big a step. So I would get a mattress/airbed/sofa cushions and have them ready. When she wakes up, back into her bed. You or dh sleep on the floor in her room. Because your bed is banned to her, so if she needs comfort/help, you will stay in her room, but she can't come to yours. Once she is going regularly back into her bed and going back to sleep, then you begin to withdraw from her room, one step at a time, so first, wait til she is asleep and leave. Then give her 5 minutes and creep out as she is falling asleep, or move to near the door. Then either outside the door, or cuddle kiss and leave.

I would also look at things like a small nightlight, a special teddy that soaks up all the scaries and looks after them so her room is safe. At this age, you do get the rise of imaginative monsters etc, if that is an issue then a water spray which is labelled 'ant monster spray' gently sprayed round to send all the monsters running away, that sort of thing.

But the biggest key in all this is that whatever you choose you must must must stick to it. She needs to learn that you will follow through. Is there something during the day that you could use to get the message over that you will follow through and keep to your word?

And the screaming til they are sick just clean up in silence and keep going.

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:04:12

by the way, I don't think rewards charts work at all for middle of the night upset. They are just not in the place to reason and logic. Reward charts assume that you can make a decision based on logic (if I do/don't do this I will get a reward later) Tired, upset children simply don't have the capacity to make their decision making over come their emotions.

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Thu 16-Mar-17 12:04:50

I definitely would not start sleeping on her floor, if you do this you'll be doing it for months as she will then scream and vomit if you don't. She is 5, she really doesn't need you to sleep with her. A few days of no nonsense from you and she'll get over it.

Summer70 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:10:35

I have huge sympathy for you, it sounds awful & I agree that you've probably got to be completely consistent about returning her to bed. However - you say that she is also showing some signs of anxiety & that you can hardly bare to talk to her - she will be picking up on this & it won't help with resolving it. Somehow you will need to be super kind & loving whilst being firm & consistent. Have you tried chatting to her about it & setting expectations during the day? Reward chart might help with a little reward every time she achieves a good night. Loads of positive encouragement. good luck - repeated bad nights are the worst.

nonameinspiration Thu 16-Mar-17 12:17:59

Sounds v familiar. We had this with dd2 when she was 3. She turned in to rumplestiltskin every night and the tantrums were god awful. We were lucky dd1 will
Sleep through an earthquake but its was very hard.

I don't blame you with the portion wish I'd thought of that!!

One thing that dp insisted on which did help was bringing her bedtime forward. Dp theory for all child issues is tiredness and sometimes he's right. Dd2 bedtime was moved to 6.30 and we took turns to sit with her on herbed until she fell asleep. It was up to 90 minutes but we did get somewhere eventually.

She is nearly 5 now and still wakes in the night and gets in our bed but she goes straight to sleep. We had to be very strict that if it came to that it was to sleep only and if she messed about she was back in her own bed.

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 12:19:10

The more sympathetic and kind I am the worse she is at night. I know that sounds odd but it's very clear.
I know not talking to her is awful but after being up night after night I find it hard to be positive with her the next day.
She goes to bed no problem if I leave the door ajar so she can hear us and she falls asleep fine. She then wakes between 12-2 am and that's when it starts.
We did make a camp bed thing for her in our room but even that is not good enough. She has to be in our bed on my pillow. I have tried getting out of bed when she comes in and going in to her bed but she follows me screaming.
After much heart ache I cancelled her birthday party but she says she doesn't care! Which I was so shocked by as she had been planning it for ages.
The other night we had to physically block her from coming into our bed with our knees and she ended up falling asleep after hours of being awake half on our bed and half on our floor
If I keep putting her back at the moment she is out of bed again before I can get out of the door.

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:20:04

Whatthefreak - normally I would agree. But she is showing anxiety and OP is at the point that she is finding it realy hard to carry through. My suggestion is to break it down into steps and deal with one at a time. Break the Mummy's bed hbit, then withdraw. yes she will scream at the point you start to withdraw, but she is now in the habit of staying in her own bed.

I think it is a bit simplistic to say 'A few days of no nonsense and she will get over it'
If that was going to work, the OP wouldn't be where she is now.

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:23:13

There was a great thread recently about a mum of twins who came into her bed every night. She decided no more and stuck to it, it took a few days but they did it. You might find it encouraging

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 12:27:22

I will look for it. I do understand her aniexty etc and I can't pin point what started it but the 2 are obviously related. However there are times recently like when she went to friends house and didn't give me a second glance, or school. Which she adores. No aniexty there.
A 5yr old not staying in bed is such a different thing to a baby waking!
Thanks everyone. Feels so good to write it all down smile

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:29:06

cross post - so she wants next to you on the pillow, so the camp bed isn't going to work.
Take her back, again and again and again - 50 times if necessary.
Super nanny's way was to say first time something nice but firm "time for sleep, let's tuck you back into your bed, nightnight, love you"
second time (even if 10 seconds later) firm, not so nice "bedtime, you're going back to your own bed"
third time, don't say anything, walk them back to bed again and again.

I would take her out of your room and shut your door so she can't go back in and walk her back to bed.
You sort of have to decide that you are going to miss 3 -4 hours sleep while she continually gets out of bed. But in the long run it wll be easier.

But I would be worried that something was scaring her - is she havign nightmares?

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:31:31

How about a little pillow that you sleep with, when she wakes up you give her the little pillow in HER bed, so it smells of you and comfort?

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 12:40:53

No not nightmares but she seems to have convinced herself she can't sleep. She is wide awake when she gets up and even in our bed doesn't go back to sleep easy.
She already says way befor bed 'by the way mummy I won't be able to stay in bed tonight'
So she sets herself up. Hence why I tried the antihistamine blush doctor suggested it might break the habit by keeping her asleep

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 12:43:50

The hv suggested making something together which we did, a star badge then that be our special thing so when she wakes at night she can know I am always there for her... she doesn't even give it a look!!
And we have given her my pillow in bed too. No difference. She has a night light and a musical and thing. I reckon she wakes and is out of bed like lightening. I'm sure she doesn't even try go back to sleep as I never hear her musical things go.

daisydalrymple Thu 16-Mar-17 12:51:07

Did anything significant happen six weeks ago to maybe bring this on? Was she anxious prior to the six week thing, or has that also coincided with the wakings? Sounds to me like something has brought this on, and you need to get to the bottom of why it's happening before treating it.

Is she having night terrors? What does she say wakes her up? Sleep deprivation is hideous so I totally get how difficult it must be, but if you're withdrawing from her in the daytime, it may well be making the situation worse, when it's more reassurance she's needing.

daisydalrymple Thu 16-Mar-17 12:54:12

X posted with you then.
Does dd understand how tired this is making you too?
Have you mentioned it at school incase it's impacting on her there? (Or incase she seems anxious about something at school?)

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 12:56:23

Yes the two pretty much coincide but for the life of me I cannot get to the bottom of it.
It was half term so not school related but had a meeting with school anyway just to be sure and they said absolutely no issues.
Out of blue one day she just started getting funny if I went to toilet, put bins out etc. No issues before at all.
I have asked her till the cows come home she what is wrong and she just either says she misses me or nothing.
Nothing has changed in our lives

steppemum Thu 16-Mar-17 12:59:46

sorry, just throwing out ideas here, feel free to ignore.

Thinking about bedtime. About half an hour before bedtime, talk to her about what helps her to go to sleep at bedtime, so light off, cuddle teddy, put on musical mobile, mummy gives you a kiss, and you close your eyes, head on the pillow and go to sleep.

Once she gets that, then talk about the same thing works at night, but she has to do it. Mummy is never cross if she wakes up ( wink) but mummy does get cross when she jumps out of bed and doesn't use the getting to sleep stuff. The only way to sleep is head on your pillow and eyes closed. So, if you wake up, you not coming into mummy's bed, we are going to do the same as we do at bedtime, music, light off, cuddle teddy, head on pillow eyes closed.
Spell it out to her that that is the only thing that you are going to do, because that is what works to go back to sleep. Crying doens't get you bakc to sleep, niether does screaming, niether does mummy's bed, just head on pillow eyes closed.

Every time she says 'I can't sleep?' the only answer is - was your head on ht epillow and your eyes closed? and so on.

daisydalrymple Thu 16-Mar-17 13:10:15

Could she just be super tired with school? I know a few of the mums are saying their dcs are really tired at this stage of term, post-Christmas, weather still rubbish etc. Maybe having half term, then the realisation she has to go back to school.

Do you manage to have quality time with her before bed? (Sorry that sounds judgemental im just thinking of things from my own experience - to put it in context, my house is a mad house after tea, dh doesn't get home till after 7pm, 3 nights a week there's gymnastics / swimming / footy I'm trying to tidy up get stuff ready for next day, dc3 is two and has the most boisterous wind down ever!)

Just wondering if you managed to have half an hour just you and her, would that help reassure her? And maybe spending some 'nice' time in her bed before sleep. (New quilt cover she helps choose??)

Or is there an activity she enjoys such as swimming / ballet? Could you talk about how we all need sleep for our bodies to have energy and grow strong for [swimming / park ...] apologies if you've tried all this stuff.

feekerry Thu 16-Mar-17 13:24:56

No keep throwing it out!
Well our house is generally hell before bed for all the reasons you stated! Getting stuff ready, dp not home till later, kids are wild 😜
But we always practice her reading before bed.
She is tired but some nights we are only getting 5 hours sleep. She goes off the next day like nothing has happened.
One day I took her to a place for ice cream, spent most of the day just me and her.. and that night she was the worst she had ever been

TittyGolightly Thu 16-Mar-17 13:28:20

She is 5, she really doesn't need you to sleep with her. A few days of no nonsense from you and she'll get over it.

Yes. Damn you small and anxious child. How dare you expect to have someone with you through this long night. Only adults are allowed nighttime closeness and comfort. Stay in your room and don't complain.


Ever likely British kids are so fucking unhappy.

daisydalrymple Thu 16-Mar-17 14:08:45

I think advice from steppemum above about talking about what helps us get back to sleep is really good. Five is old enough to understand cause and effect, so you're all going to be really tired if she keeps waking up. Maybe try suggesting a trip she'd really enjoy on the weekend if she stays in bed tonight and tomorrow? (Trip to ice cream shop / swimming / whatever she'd enjoy?) but you're too tired to do it if she doesn't sleep.

And just keep on with the reassurance.

Just when you thought you'd got through the sleep hell years...

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