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My 5 year old is finding it hard to stop a long ritual

(19 Posts)
Elf Sun 08-Jul-07 19:44:46

DD1 is five and three quarters and has for a while now had a bit of a ritual good night but it has blown out of all proportion. Every time dh or I say goodnight or goodbye, she has to go through a whole speech, exactly the same each time. It is very loving but so long. Also, the reason why I am asking advice is that it is as though she HAS to say it. We have talked to her about it again recently and with some kind words and some bribery she has now cut it right down but it is still an effort for her not to say it. AND then she had to make her toy, now two toys say it as well. They were saying the whole thing and are now saying the shortened version. Waiting for her and then two toys go through a whole speech was torture for us and when we begged her not to do it she cried and just did it. She couldn't stop. Until recently.

DH and I just cannot think what has initiated this. I could understand it if someone had died, or even if we were moving house, or getting divorced or something but we really don't know. About three months ago, DH went on a trip for two weeks which is very unusual. She seemed no more sad about this than would be expected at the time and he came back safe and sound. I can't really remember the timing as to whether that is relevant. Also, we are home educating ATM so know that she isn't being bullied or anything like that.

So, have you any experience of this? Is it just a phase? Do you think she could have worse episodes in the future? Any thoughts, info would be appreciated.

moondog Sun 08-Jul-07 19:56:55

Does she obssess abot other stuff?

charmkin Sun 08-Jul-07 20:00:17

what does she say?

charmkin Sun 08-Jul-07 20:01:11

does she have nightmares?
how did she settle to sleep before?

uberalice Sun 08-Jul-07 20:05:52

I'm not an expert but I'd guess it's a phase. I used to have a long prayer that I'd insist on saying before bed. Can't remember how old I was. But I did grow out of it. In fact, I'm an atheist now.

Elf Sun 08-Jul-07 20:18:52

Thanks for answering. In answer to your questions,

No she doesn't obsess about any other stuff.
I don't really want to say exactly what she says because it feels a bit personal, but it is basically saying how much she loves us.
No she doesn't have nightmares, or maybe one or two in her life, I can't remember.
She normally settles to sleep well, but for a few months now she has been calling out, and we have to go back to her about three times and she says she is lonely and worried about monsters.
Uberalice

Any more thoughts? Thanks

moondog Sun 08-Jul-07 20:22:25

I would try a strategy at a time to see if you can reduce it gradually.

1) Let her say it to you,then say it to (or have the dolls say it together) dolls together for a week or so.

2)Suggest she says it once to all of you/on behalf of her and the dolls for a week or so

3)Write it out and suggest it is just left by the bed as a reminder or just suggest first and last bits said

4) Suggest that you could help her condense it.

Tiny steps like this might do the trick.

Elf Sun 08-Jul-07 20:32:02

Thanks for replying again Moondog. The thing is, we have managed to get her to reduce the speech it is just that we can see that it is a real effort for her not to say it all and we are worried about her need to do it.

Hathor Sun 08-Jul-07 20:36:02

Is it the time it takes that is worrying you, or the fact that she seems so attached to saying it, or the content of what she says?

moondog Sun 08-Jul-07 20:44:53

Try getting her to agree to 'saying' some of it silently? Tell her it is more powerful that way,it's got special magic then or something.Would she buy that?

Or tell her you know a magic way to shorten it.Write it down,put it in a pretty bag and hang it up? Little girls often respond well to all that fairies and spells stuff.

Elf Sun 08-Jul-07 20:50:48

Hathor, the time it took was annoying, the content is loving but it is the fact that she NEEDS to say it that worries us. She has been very tearful and until recently just wouldn't stop saying it. Now she just says, Goodnight, I love you and so do the toys but it is a real effort for her to forgo the whole speech.

Moondog I quite like your idea about writing it down and putting it in the pretty bag. So it might feel that it is THERE for her and she might then feel happier about not actually verbalising it. Interesting. Thank you.

I must go to bed now but if anyone else has any more thoughts I would be happy to read them tomorrow.

Hathor Mon 09-Jul-07 20:19:35

Just checked back on your reply.
It sounds lovely that she can express her feelings like this. If it has become a habit, I am sure she will grow out of it eventually. You will miss it then .
Maybe it is like her own personal prayer?
You could make a special thing of it and help her to write it, decorate a special frame and hang it near her bed so she has it always there and doesn't need to say it every day.
Reassure her that you both know it off by heart and will keep it in your own hearts.
Encourage her to use some other loving words that are a bit less long-winded for bedtime, and praise her for telling you her feelings.

Elf Mon 09-Jul-07 20:39:35

Thanks Hathor for that.

Now that DD1 has cut down on the speech it does feel better but she and the toys still have to say goodnight I love you which sounds fine and lovely but the toys HAVE to be found if they aren't there at that precise moment, say for instance if DH is leaving for work. At bedtime there are a few checking questions when we are just about to close her bedroom door, always exactly the same.

Except for Uberalice no one else seems to mention anyone else or their children doing the same so I feel a bit better from your posts people, thank you, but still perplexed.

currantbunmum Mon 09-Jul-07 21:01:29

Our dd1 has a little good night ritual.
2 stories.
Cuddles.
Puts on Lypsil.
Checks night light working.
Drink of water.
Into bed with blankie, Tigs, Stripey(since birth), plus upto 2 others.
Stroked for 3 mins.
She asks us our favourite part of the day, and tells hers.
Kisses.
"Good night, sleeptight, sweet dreams, love you lots, see you in the morning, make sure the door is closed properly, don't eat too much supper!!, if ** (dd2) cries go to her straight away..........."

I've usually got out of the room and closed the door by now.
This is everynight since don't know when, she is totally fine, she just seems to enjoy this little routine before she goes to sleep.

Don't be perplexed Elf

Elf Thu 12-Jul-07 13:53:09

Oh, thanks Currantbunmum, that is comforting. Love the name too!

Elf Thu 12-Jul-07 13:53:27

Oh, thanks Currantbunmum, that is comforting. Love the name too!

Reallytired Thu 12-Jul-07 17:45:40

How long is the speech? If is less than 20 minutes why is it a problem? It does seem to me really sad. Its not as if she is hurting anyone.

cornsilk Thu 12-Jul-07 17:57:20

My ds has 'rituals' that he has to do at bedtime too, but we've found that he doesn't do it if bedtime is different, either 'cos he's staying out or 'cos someone else is involved in putting him to bed. Could you try to break the cycle by changing the nature of bedtime?

TootyFrooty Thu 12-Jul-07 18:09:06

I used to say a prayer, check under the bed for sharks, check in my wardrobe for the 3 billy goats gruff, check under my bed again for the trolls, go for a wee twice and then go to bed. Then I'd put my 4 teddies in a line behind my pillow. Can't remember how long it lasted but now I get into bed, turn off light and fall asleep!

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