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Terrible night time and behaviour problems with 3 year old

(25 Posts)
llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:04:23

I wasn't sure whether to post this here or in the sleep category, but here goes.

DS is 3 this month and we have a 5 month old DS as well. As far as sleep is concerned, the 5 month old has is cracked and that is great. The older one, on the other hand, is driving us mad.

After 2 years of consistent sleeping, he has started waking every night. Until recently, he'd only sleep in complete darkness; now he insists upon a light. I think the light wakes him too much because when he wakes up, he wants one of us to get into bed with him and read to him. He will not go back to sleep for ages and he ends up waking us all up, including the baby.

Last night he ended up having a huge tantrum at around 5am which upset everyone. However, he'd been awake on and off since 1am and the tantrum started with him jumping on his bed shouting for us to wake up.

He goes to bed without any problems. He gets plenty of exercise, is usually tired and the only thing I can think of is that he is in the transition between needing a daytime nap and not needing a daytime nap. If he doesn't nap he ends up falling asleep at 6am and waking in the middle of the night. If he naps he takes ages to go to bed and wakes up incredibly early. We can cope with anything after 6am but these 4.30am tantrums are killing us.

He's also incredibly stroppy at the moment, which is why I didn't post this in sleep. He whinges, he "demands" things and cries if he doesn't get his own way. He is very clingy when I drop him at pre-school twice a week whereas previously he loved it. He just seems so difficult. There are still (thankfully!) glimpses of a loving, happy, sweet child but his behaviour seems so extreme. He also tells me to "go away" and "want daddy to do it" all the time which I find very hard to deal with.

I look at DS2 and wonder sometimes how the hell we are going to cope if he is like this too in 2 years time. Where are we going wrong?

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:04:46

That was long. Thank you if you manage to wade through it!

colditz Sun 11-Oct-09 21:10:46

he's being very three.

He probably wants the light because he has discovered his imagination.

Can you give him a"quiet time" in the afternoon, that is not a nap but is a rest? Then he can get himself through until bedtime maybe?

defineme Sun 11-Oct-09 21:15:30

re the sleep - get rid of the light (my 4 yr oldi nsisted on this after years or dark, but could never get to sleep with it on so I said it broke.
Don't interact with the stories and so on-night time is for sleep. I'm not saying no cuddles or anything- just no lights on and reading!
Don't let him have much nap - the transistion is always hard. My ds1 used to have 20 minutes at this age.

Re the behaviour- just be firm, consistent and calm - he demands=he doesn't get and you remain calm with the tantrum. Don't go away if he tells you to, keep calm and don't take it personally.
He's only little, his world turned upside down 5 months ago, he's tired and out of kilter with his sleep, he's not sure if you've stayed the same when everything seems a bit different. So don't give into his unreasonableness, but do cuddle him and reaasure him lots.
It will pass.

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:15:57

Really, so normal? I was beginning to worry.

I do try and give him some quiet time but he is a real live-wire. He doesn't stop. I must admit that up until now our strategy has been to keep him physically occupied. Quiet time is when I am breastfeeding the other one. Hmm. Some thought required there, I think.

I have given him a dim light but I really do think it is preventing him sleeping.

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:24:44

He is likely to go ballistic if we don't put the light on. I mean a real, heart-wrenching, world is over kind of tantrum. Oh god, we've really cocked up there.

My DH tends to try and get him back off to sleep because I am usually breastfeeding DS2 as we co-sleep. This morning I was with him but it was 5.30 so I got up and came downstairs and calmed him down. DH is lovely but has a really problem with his tone of voice: he sounds the same whether he is praising him or telling him off. DS walks all over him to be honest and I get so upset when I have to be the one who has to sort it all out.

I do see what you mean about his world being out of kilter, but we've tried really hard to ensure that all of his normal routines have stayed the same with lots of reassurance. DH has even changed his job so is around more with no shifts so that should have made a positive difference, but to be honest it hasn't.

Thanks for your help, it has been useful.

francaghostohollywood Sun 11-Oct-09 21:28:06

Lol at he is being very three. Yes, he is indeed.
ANd he has just had a brand new brother, so he needs to get used to him and get over (it might take a while) his feelings of jealousy.

Not sure about the dim light, my dc have always had one but it doesn't wake them up. How about switching it off when you go to bed and he is already asleep?

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:32:08

We've tried turning it off when we go to bed. He wakes up, turns it back on again, gets back into bed and then starts shouting for daddy. Or me. Or Fireman bloody Sam!

We've also tried leaving it on. He wakes up.

He won't wear clothes to bed and won't use his quilt. Last week he'd only go to sleep on the floor with two blankets, a pillow and a torch. This week he'll only sleep with a fake-fur blanket.

Thinking about it, this all started when he decided he didn't want to wear nappies anymore. I wonder if this is significant or a coincidence?

Thank you all so much.

francaghostohollywood Sun 11-Oct-09 21:38:57

sorry, but the images of your ds's various ways of going to bed made me smile. Ah bless.
There might be a connection with not wearing nappies, in that there've been lots of changes for him, bless him (he is a big brother, he doesn't wear nappies anymore, so he is big), he really might be a teeny bit scared.

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:44:15

I know, I can't help but smile at him either. When he is not being infuriating he is very kind, loving and sweet and he is very lovely to his little brother. He gets lots of praise for that.

He came muttering downstairs earlier about it being the "taking part that counts, not the winning." I've NO idea where he got that from!

BrokenBananaTantrum Sun 11-Oct-09 21:45:51

Probably going to get shouted at for suggesting this but we have had a similar situation and I have decided to move DD's bed into our room. She is 3.3 Well actually she is on a campbed at the side of me at the moment and we have found that she is so much more settled at night.

Don't know if this would help or make life more difficult with you having another little one but it has worked for us.

(don't shout at me pleeeease)

francaghostohollywood Sun 11-Oct-09 21:47:24

Oh I bet he is smile
lol at taking part etc grin

thefortbuilder Sun 11-Oct-09 21:53:15

have you tried one of those nightlight things that shines stars over the walls and ceilings? they are on a 45 minute timer and would provide something for him to gaze at which might help?

so says flick from the table in the lounge because ds1 (3.3) has now been awake since 840 howling about something and wanting to come downstairs. I have finally given in (when he wanted his daddy who has flown to south africa tonight for the rest of the week for relocation meetings) and he is snuggling pretty peacefully on the sofa with blanket, muslin and bunny..... you'll see me posting about this soon.

generally ladybird (the thing with the stars that shines on the ceiling) tends to work as we got it when he suffered from night terrors at just over 2yrs.

your ds is flexing his muscles a bit, lots of changes and yes, probably a bit scared too

WobblyPig Sun 11-Oct-09 21:54:09

Omg - you could be me - but you wouldn't want to be. Also have DS 3 next week and 5 mo Dd. DS waking and tantruming. One is definitely linked ot the other. I think he behaves badly because he is tired. He was getting into our beds but I've had to stop that because no one sleeps and I've already got Dd Co-sleeping.
I have had to take a very firm line - which at times means leaving him shouting in his room - which sounds horrible I know. I think at this gae they do know what they are doing and are trying to exert themselves and control over hte situation - in my case I view it as a battle of wills. He is so much better when I force him to stay in his room and eventually fall asleep. I think we are seeing gradual improvement as he realises that there is no benefit in getting up before a certain time.

herbgarden Sun 11-Oct-09 21:55:09

DS is 3.3 years and dd 8 months.

DS has always been a good sleeper but it all went pear shaped when DD arrived - waking at random times being difficult etc etc. He dropped his Day nap in the October before she was born and tbh it was a horrible transition phase. I was pregnant - he was still in his cot bed, he would wake at 5am every sodding morning and I was like the waking dead. In the end we left him at 5am in his cot screaming - he couldn't get out. After a week or so he worked out it was a bit early and got himself off again. Now he's in a bed, I have the monitor turned off in my room, If he wakes before 6.30am I talk to him through it and tell him to lie quietly even if he doesn't want to sleep and we'll get him when it's time to wake up. 9/10 he goes with it but he'll tell us alsorts to get us out of bed.....

It's a tough time but it WILL PASS !
As to the whingeing demanding stuff - oh yes, we have that too - a full on threenager, if all instant demands are not met then meltdown ensues. Poor old DD gets dumped on the floor in the lounge with coat still on when we get in from the car - he's kicked off shoes, coat, demanding drink, cbeebies - when's tea.....We have to often have the "you're not the only child in this family" chat.....GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRr. It's getting harder at the moment as DD is being a pickle too - may need prozac soon !

We also have a tearful pre-school drop off...

Good luck but it will pass honestly.

FuckwitsAllofthem Sun 11-Oct-09 21:55:55

We have our 2 boys (4 and 2) sharing a room and went through this when the 2.9yr old was getting out of needing a nap in the day.

What we do now is let them have a very very dim bedside light on when they are falling asleep and when I go to bed I switch it off and switch on their Go Glow lights so there is enough ambient light for them to see if they wake up but it's not a 'Hello! Morning!' light.

It was just a phase with our ds2 (a long phase!) but he has come out the other end. Thank goodness.

fishie Sun 11-Oct-09 21:57:23

it is so so familiar. you have got to stop the nap.

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 21:59:05

Yes to stars! He'd love that...

I've tried leaving him in his room and he just comes into ours. That's when the tantrums start.

As for sleeping in our room, we're co-sleeping with DS2 so that probably isn't helping although I do put DS2 to sleep in his cot at the same time as DS1 just to make it less obvious.

Thank you so much everyone!

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 22:01:07

fishie, we're trying hard to avoid the nap. At the moment we don't go anywhere by car in the afternoon in case he falls asleep.

herbgarden, I can seriously relate!

LeninGhoul Sun 11-Oct-09 22:02:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeninGhoul Sun 11-Oct-09 22:04:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 22:04:32

Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. It really helps to know what we are experiencing is normal.

CarGirl Sun 11-Oct-09 22:07:16

you are co-sleeping with the baby he could be very jealous indeed especially as the baby is becoming more interesting and interactive during the day etc

I suggest mattress on the floor next to your bed and that he is welcome to sleep there if he wishes.

Dragonhart Sun 11-Oct-09 22:10:36

Has it been going on for months? Mine seem to get terrible at sleeping and very tantrumy when they are growing. Ds1 wakes screaming in the night (he also gets growing pains) and is really tempremental in the day. He hits, looses his temper easily and is generally not nice to be with. Then it all seems to calm again. For a while!

It got really bad when I had dd3 (he was 3.1) and I found it hard. I had to stop myself being cross with him all the time, and realise that he just didnt know how to deal with his emotions. Sometime when he got really stressed and I just wanted to put him outside the room, I would grab him and give him a big hug and would feel him relax in my arms.

It has been hard but he got alot better when dd3 was about 6months and started to have meals with us and generally had the same routine as him. He still has his moments but then I would worry if he did everything I said! grin

llaregguBOO Sun 11-Oct-09 22:52:52

You may have a point about the co-sleeping. I am doing what I did with DS2 and easing him into his cot now.

Dragonhart, yes, it has been going on for ages and he has grown tremendously. He is all gangly legs, skin and bone! Interesting...

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