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Bedtime horrors - help me decide between consistancy and accepting it's not working

(9 Posts)
fruitstick Tue 02-Jun-09 08:16:55

DS1 is 3 and never that keen on going to sleep. However, since we moved house at Easter things have become unbearable. It also coincided with new baby.

He's always had a stairgate at his door and he either jumps on the bed forever or stands at the stairgate and throws all of his toys over it.

I tried a sticker chart with special trips out on a Saturday but the novelty's worn off and I'm sick of drawing sad faces.

I've confiscated all the toys he's thrown but he doesn't care. I told him he couldn't watch tv if he had an unhappy bedtime but he didn't care about that either,

I've tried talking to him about why he doesn't want to go to sleep but he won't say. He is very articulate and understandas what we want from him but as soon as storytime and his songs are over it's like a switch is flicked.

I fear we have built it up to much into an issue that he has power over. I tempted to chuck the sticker chart and just not mention it again, just keep calmly taking the toys away.

Anyone got any ideas? I've discovered I'm not that comfortable with the threat/reward thing as would like him to do things for its own reason ifswim (don' we all wink.

Any suggestions welcome.

Dysgu Tue 02-Jun-09 08:39:15

Bumping for you in hope that someone will have some ideas that actually help.

Only to say that we had a similar thing happen when DD1 was 27mo and new baby arrived.

No suggestions though as we don't see it as a big issue and have gone back to co-sleeping which we did with her when she was younger.

Good luck.

friendlyfowler Mon 08-Jun-09 23:17:57

My ds has always struggled with sleep too but have asked advice from my health visitor after having my second child and some of this may help you too.
Firstly, try and not show your child that you are dreading bedtime as they do pick up on it.
Spend a good amount of quality time with your child before bed, then take them up to bed, spend more time in their room, so that they get to enjoy being in their room, then leave them in bed and say you've got some tidying to do, set an alarm for two minutes and return - praising them if they stay in their bed, or if they are not climbing over their gate! Go back every two minutes, children have a big fear of being left so by returning frequently helps. Return every two minutes until you've done it five times, then change to every five minutes and then every ten minutes.
We had tried the controlled crying before but had always left our child for 10 mins and it just didn't work. By going back every two mins he never got as wound up and it got easier. Our son still doesn't sleep as long as some children but he can stay in his room for longer than before and does not get as upset about the whole sleep thing!

shellki Tue 09-Jun-09 21:18:52

Have had similar situation with dd1 (2.8 years), which got worse when dd2 appeared 5 weeks ago. We tried the stairgate, but she almost killed herself climbing over it. Tried the sticker chart, but she doesn't care about it (though it worked really well for potty training), also have tried removing toys, confiscating things. The only thing that has started to work is by getting out of a cycle of 'negative' behaviour, by trying to be really encouraging about the slightest good behaviour - like friendlyfowler describes. Its certainly not easy though. But I feel the same way, they should WANT to be good, and go to sleep etc, being coerced with bribery of different sorts doesn't really work in the long run. Good luck anyway!

jellybelly25 Tue 09-Jun-09 21:26:47

Do you/dp do his bedtime each night? He might just be wanting you to himself a little bit... Not so easy to actually do but jsut a thought. I would err on the side of staying with him for a while, lying on the bed together or something so like friendlyfowler said he can start enjoying bedtime.

With dd2 at the moment we have solved horrific bedtimes by cutting nap to 1h and staying with her at bedtime to avoid total hysteria, and she seems to be abandoning early waking (hoping it continues) but she still wakes up quite a lot. Small steps though, etc.

jellybelly25 Tue 09-Jun-09 21:34:16

oh an in response to what you actualy asked, how long have you been doing the chart?

If it's been longer than a couple of weeks I would ditch it and start anew. Remove most toys before bedtime so less to throw perhaps?

Also I think reward/punishment needs to be really immediate for it to be effective with tiny ones as I don't think they are great at making the connection after the event has happened, which might be why he doesn't care about nice trips or tv etc. So the sticker chart would be good but if that's not working perhaps something else but can't think of anything off top of head. Extra kisses or something.

andirobo Tue 09-Jun-09 21:47:23

Did you catch that programme on ITV last night - my child wont sleep? It was quite interesting and may be in ITV Player - there was a three year old girl in it who was a horror going to bed, and they removed every distraction from her room - from toys to books and posters. She was put to bed firmly and with little messing. I cant remember much of the cure but she had only been sleeping for 3 hours a night and by the end of the 6 weeks she was doing 10 hours, and her character had changed. She even looked better - no bags under her eyes. At one point the dad went up when she was screaming and held her door shut until she shut up and then it was opened again.

There was another slightly older girl who struggled going to bed and the solution there was to put her to bed alot later - as in she had her bath at 11pm and in bed by midnight! Sounded radical but they slowly changed her body clock so she went to bed earlier. It is worth a try!

misshardbroom Tue 09-Jun-09 22:51:06

I could have written your post myself 2-3 years ago.

We went to hell and back with DS1 for very similar reasons. None of it worked whatsoever, especially not my HV's advice of fitting a stairgate, leaving him to it and never going back hmm

I wish I could give you some sound, constructive advice, but here is my honest opinion:

Even at 3, he is still really a baby. Do what gets you through.

We have had periods of staying with him in his room, periods of cuddling him to sleep, periods of fooling him into it, e.g. 'lie down and mummy will pop back in a second with your drink / when I've been to the loo / when I've put daddy's dinner in the oven'.

I used to worry so much that I was making a huge rod for my own back and he would learn all kinds of controlling behaviour.

What actually happened was that he outgrew it and now at 4.5 is the easiest of my children to put to bed.

I know I'll get an extravagant flaming for this, but I don't really care because if I had another little one going through this phase I would do exactly the same thing again.

jellybelly25 Thu 11-Jun-09 13:34:57

no flaming miss hb i agree with you and am quite reassured by that!

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