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Please help! DS1 cannot bear to be left at nursery/ at bedtime/ anytime

(15 Posts)
TearingMyHairOut Wed 10-Sep-08 08:41:08

My DS1 is now 2years2months and the past couple of months have become increasingly difficult. Everytime he realises my DH and I are getting ready for work which is only 3 days a week, he knows he is going to nursery and starts behaving really badly, crying, wanting to be held etc.
This has recently progressed to not wanting to be left at bedtime. He's in a toddler bed and has been for a while and everytime I put him into bed he asks me to lie down with him. I say no and leave the room and he's straight out of bed, opening his door and screaming. We put a stairgate in front his door so he can't get out but he now climbs over that and lands on his head.
People have told us to be firm and keep going up and putting him back etc etc but he doesn't seem to be the average child. He will quite happily continue like that for three or four hours. Then of course he's exhausted the next day.
I don't want to get him into bad habits but am at my wits end. I'm pregnant with ds/ds2 and absolutely exhausted. Please help!

juuule Wed 10-Sep-08 09:05:09

Lie down with him.
It sounds as though he needs whatever reassurance you can give him at the moment.

Look at it from his point of view. He can't be with you during the day and you are putting him from you and not wanting to be with him when he wants to be with you.

Especially with a new baby on the way, I would say that any reassurance you can give him now can only build on his feelings of security and be of benefit when the baby comes.

And he does sound like a normal child. He is only 2 and he sounds desperate. I would definitely stay with him. Don't worry about bad habits.

trumpetgirl Wed 10-Sep-08 09:41:21

I would try not to give in too easily. It is a fact of life that you will have to use nursery. dd used to make a big scene everytime I took her to nursery, and I'd leave, burst into tears and feel like a terrible mother all day. However, she'd forgotten about it in 5 minutes and was having a great time!
As for bedtimes, do you read bedtime stories in bed? dd is now 5yo, but I feel dedicating that time to her is important for both of us. She seems settled and ready to sleep by the time I leave.

TearingMyHairOut Wed 10-Sep-08 09:52:43

We have tried reading in bed with him, or sitting and talking to him or singing to him for a while but unless you stay until he is asleep, he will always object whenever you leave, however long you've stayed for.

juuule Wed 10-Sep-08 09:58:11

How long would you have to lie with him before he went to sleep?
Surely that would be worth it for him to go asleep contentedly and not be tired the next day.
When I was pg I used it as an opportunity to have a rest myself.

The other option is to let him settle down downstairs with you and carry him up when he falls asleep.

LiegeAndLief Wed 10-Sep-08 10:01:18

No real advice but lots of sympathy. ds (2.1) has just moved to a new room at nursery and has been exactly the same - fortunately he is still in a cot so can't escape at bed time! We didn't stay with him as he has never fallen asleep well with us there, but we did go up much more often than usual and if he was really upset we took him out of the cot and read him another story. Fortunately he seems to be settling in better now and calming down a bit - maybe it is just a phase?! (repeat ad infinitum - it's just a phase, it's just a phase...)

I felt horribly guilty and exhausted and I'm not even pregnant! Hope it is just a phase and passes soon...

lingle Wed 10-Sep-08 10:09:52

An alternative strategy for bedtime would be to trick him into thinking he's won.

Here's what worked with DS1 who acted very similarly only without language at that age.

Tell him ok you'll lie down with him. Keep the light on (or avoid doing whatever the "final" part of bedtime is, story, lightout, even teeth brushing, whatever) so he knows that bedtime isn't finished yet and you're not leaving yet. Tell him you're going to get something. Go and get it and come back. Come back really quickly for several nights - several weeks if necessary - so he gets used you popping in and out. Stay till he falls asleep.

If you can get even to this stage, it will ease your frustration as you will be able to do thing like sort the odd bit of laundry, read a magazine, etc, etc.

If he stays relaxed, thinking he has won, and if he is quite tired, then one night he'll fall asleep while you're popping out or moving around his room sorting his clothes. Take it slowly. Let that happen again and again.

This worked so well with DS1 (after months and months of fighting over bedtime because I was trying to be firm and supernanny-like) that he continued to fall asleep with the overhead light full on for another 9 months (until DS2 was born, and then life got completely out of control all over again.........).

Sounds like your DS is more sophisticated than mine was at that age but think about the details of your bedtime routine - somewhere in it there's a way to outwit him.

LittleMyDancing Wed 10-Sep-08 10:15:46

DS has gone through phases like this - firstly, don't worry, it sounds like a phase. It will stop.

I think juuule is right - he needs your reassurance at this moment. Now obviously you're not going to stop taking him to nursery, but can you lie down with him until he falls asleep? Put the lights off, lie down and close your eyes and say 'Sssshhhh, it's sleepy time' Don't engage in conversation, just say 'Mummy will stay here with you but you have to lie down and go to sleep now'

You might find that the extra reassurance at night helps him deal better with nursery.

The other thing that worked well with our DS was story CDs in his room. He gets to have a story on at bedtime, and it helps him stay in bed rather than coming out all the time. He also loves sleeping in our bed when feeling anxious, but that's a whole other story!

I found that offering the extra comfort helped the phase to be over quicker - when you sense that he's settling better, you can start leaving just before he falls asleep, then extend that until he's settling fine without you.


thefortbuilder Wed 10-Sep-08 10:20:22

ds1 has just started doing this with nursery - he goes 3 x half days a week and this week has started saying "go home" when we get near it, bursting into tears when we get really close and wailing for "cuddle". i have left him every morning and called them 15 mins after leaving just to check he's ok and he's been fine within 5 mins of me leaving. that might set your mind at rest a little bit?

also we have had the same thing with the sleeping, but are over it now. we got a plug in lindam dusk to dawn nightlight, that auromatically goes on when you close the curtains. and we also made a big thing about ds1's stuffed animals wanting to go to sleep and wanting him to snuggle in with them. i also tell him i'll be just downstairs if he needs anything before i leave the room. he is much better now, and when he wakes i nthe night can quite often be comforted back to sleep with the nightlight and a cuddle.

HTH and good luck with baby number 2!

HonoriaGlossop Wed 10-Sep-08 10:40:26

Totally agree as I have before I tihnk on this subject, with juuule. We had to do this with DS. As juuule says he keeps going so long because he NEEDS someone there; some kids just do. DS just needed someone with him.

So long as you make clear you're only there for while they're dropping off, it should be ok. If he starts to get up, or play about, then you tell him you'll go. He will lay down and behave - he is so keen to have you there!

Good luck.

HonoriaGlossop Wed 10-Sep-08 10:41:49

and agree not to worry too much about bad habits. Kids change and develop and their needs change, they don't always want the same. When is able to be without someone, he will be!

Lazycow Wed 10-Sep-08 10:45:02

My ds was (and still is really) just like this and either my husband or I lie down with him until he goes to sleep. As has been said we can't take him out of nursery (or at least we choose not to) so I feel we should offer as much reassurance as we can outside of that.

The problem we found at first was that ds would play up at bedtime as he really didn't want to go to sleep as he wanted to be with us and he didn't feel it was long enough after a day at nursery. I know this as the days he was home with me bedtime was much easier.

I dealt with this by saying that I would lie down with him if he lay down and didn't play around. I said if he made too much noise or played around too much I would have to leave. The truth is that he was exhausted but desperately wanted to stay awake so would move and jump around just to keep awake.

If he lay still in a dark room with me at his side he was always asleep within 10 min maximum. On the odd occasion he might take half an hour but generally not so long. There was a settling down period where he resisted going to sleep with me in the room but eventually he realised that if he wanted me (or dh) in the room he needed to lay quietly and not to jump around.

In the early days of him doing this

HonoriaGlossop Wed 10-Sep-08 10:55:10

exactly lazycow. A few minutes of laying with your child has got to be preferable to hours of upset for you all.

You'd be surprised how common this is actually; I think there's a belief that all other parents just give their kids a kiss and come out and are off duty but I've read a good number of threads on here about this now and there are lots of kids who need the re-assurance of a parent there at bedtime. It's not unusual.

eeewahwoowah Wed 10-Sep-08 11:01:30

I would lie with him. He's not actually doing anything 'bad', he's expressing, in the only way he can at his age, the fact that he needs you. The current situation seems to be stressful for you and for him so why prolong it?

On the bad habits issue my experience is this. DS co-slept with dh and I from birth to age 5. The world and his wife told us this was a very "bad habit" and that we would "never get him out" but when he turned 5 he (not us) decided that he wanted his own room and his own bed and so he got it. The transition was fairly straightforward and he has been sleeping in his own room for about a year now with no major problems.

Good luck!

jollydo Wed 10-Sep-08 12:27:24

I agree with those who have said to lie down with him. It took us AGES to realise that this was the easiest and nicest-all-round solution for ds1. He would go for short phases of settling easily and then something (anything) would disrupt it and he'd want us to stay, so we'd go through nights of crying, popping in to reassure, leaving for longer etc. As he got older it got harder to get him back into the settling by himself again, until by the time he was 3 and I was pregnant again we changed our plan and started to lie down with him each night.
We still do it now at 4 1/2, it takes about 3 minutes(!) unless we fall asleep... and then everyone is happy.

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