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5yr old will NOT stay in his bedroom! Help! (long)

(12 Posts)
Oakmaiden Fri 27-Jun-03 11:54:57

My ds (who incidentally has ADHD and Aspergers) is causing real heartache at the moment. The problem is, that he suddenly will NOT stay in his bedroom when it is appropriate. He has never been a good sleeper, but until recently he would go to his room at 19:30 and play for a couple of hours before sleeping, and he would wake early but would play (relatively) quietly in his room until 07:30, when he would come and drag me out of bed.
This has now changed. He will NOT stay in his bedroom, and creeps around the house generally misbehaving.
Last night was a disaster - it has really upset me. We had guests in the evening, so we were all downstairs, and ds was (supposedly) in his room. At about 21:00 he came downstairs and said "Mummy, I've cut myself and it won't stop bleeding". There was SO much blood, and he was panicing and wouldn't let me see what he had done - kept saying he needed a plaster, but wouldn't actually let me see where he had cut himself (his finger). It turns out that he had crept out of his room and into the workroom, taken the toolkit out of the cupboard, taken it back to his room and cut himself on one of the (very sharp) craft knives. It wasn't actually too bad once I got him to let me sort it out, but it was a fairly deep slice to his finger. So he went chastened to bed. However, just to prove that he is not one to let unpleasant experiences daunt him, I went into his room at 07:30 this morning, to find his sat on the windowsill eating ice lollies - he had been downstairs and helped himself from the fridge.
The thing is - he KNOWS that he is not allowed out of his room except to go to the toilet or to get me or dh. He certainly knows that he is not allowed to help himself to things that do not belong to him. And he used to cooperate most of the time - but at the moment he is taking EVERY opportunity to sneak off and play with things he shouldn't have. And I don't know what to do. This night was actually not untypical - although he has never actually hurt hiself before.

I don't know what to do about it. As normal dh and myself are disagreeing about how best to tackle the problem. Once I had persuaded dh that putting a potty in his room and locking the door was NOT the way to go, we are left with several alternatives but we can't seem to come to agreement about which to take.
One alternative is for one of us to get up really early (before ds - which is hard because he doesn't get up at a regular time - so we would need to get up at 06:00ish. At least then he would not be unsupervised in his wanderings. I don't like this one too much though, cos it would be me to get get, and I am exhausted anyway). Or we could set up a reward system - so he could have a Star Wars sticker or something every morning that he stayed in his room nicely until 07:30 (although I am not generally a big fan of reward systems - because I don't think it teaches a child self discipline, just to cooperate *enough* to get a gift. But this is my favoured option). Or we could just go on and punish him each time he goes out of his room and does something inappopriate (which I think dh prefers). Dh has suggested setting up some sort of alarm system so that we are woken/alerted if ds comes out of his room and can intervene before he comes to harm/breaks anything. I don't think this is a bad idea (though am tempted to use it in conjunction with a reward, whilst dh seems to hope we can just punish quicker) but have no idea where to get something that will do this. Dh is muttering about movement sensors or laser trip wires, setting off some sort of buzzer. Not that he likes gadgets, or anything.

So - anyone got any good ideas? Because I am alternating between being SO cross that he just can't seem to behave appropriately (which is not really his fault - he has problems with checking his behaviour) and so scared that next time he will do somethign to kill himself. He had a lucky escape this time, really, but he doesn't seem to learn from these things.

maryz Fri 27-Jun-03 14:07:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kmg1 Fri 27-Jun-03 18:24:47

Oakmaiden - loads of sympathy - you must be really worried.

I just typed a long message, then decided it might not be helpful - I don't have personal experience of AS, and I think that makes a big difference in what strategies may or may not be helpful.

FWIW the behaviour you describe means you do have big safety concerns, and personally I would not completely rule out the idea of a lock on the door, at least temporarily.

SoupDragon Fri 27-Jun-03 18:42:41

Would he understand a reward system such as a pasta jar? The idea is that when he's good you put a piece of pasta in and when he's naughty, you take a piece out. At (say) the end of the week you can count the pieces in the jar and award an appropriate reward (to use your example, one star wars sticker for every piece in the jar). As it's cumulative, there's less of the "cooperate *enough* to get a gift" factor you're worried about.

Oakmaiden Fri 27-Jun-03 20:08:15

I tried a reward system about 18 months ago - the problem with it was that ds got quite obsessive about it and drove me nuts going on about it. It might be different if I try it again, because if I just focus on staying in his bedroom at least he (hopefully) won't keep trying to get rewards for other things - and if he is in his room I won't get nagged to death about when will he get his sticker (or whatever...) It might be worth trying again - assuming I can find some stickers or something else really inexpensive that can be doled out on a daily basis! I'm not sire about the pot idea, SoupDragon - mostly because if he is good one night, I think it is kind of unfair to let a bad night negate that. ALso it is quite similar to what I tried before (he needed a certain number of tokens to get a Star Wars figure) - although I didn't take tokens away for bad behaviour - and it was the collecting aspect of it that really got his obbsessive tendancies going, if you see what I mean!

Maryz - I find punishments don't seem to make much difference to ds either. He does GET punished for inappropriate behaviour - mostly because I feel I can't just ignore it - but it doesn't actually seem to stop him doing something that he feels he wants to do.
Trying to work out how I could make the rest of the house too boring to bother with! He can undo pretty all child lock type things, so all I can think of is fixing proper locks to the door to every room, so that all he can get to is the hall, landing and bathroom. Even then he would still be able to get to the fridge/freezer cos it is in the hall, and also we have no door into the kitchen (and odd sized doorways - soit is not simply a matter of going and buying a door - we would have to get one made). Or, hm, maybe just latches right at the top of the doors (although this doesn't solve the kitchen problem.) I suppose if he keeps raiding the fridge/freezer for goodies, then I could stop buying them. He is unlikely to raid the freezer for the sake or a bag of frozen peas.... Hm, thinks....

maryz Fri 27-Jun-03 20:34:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SoupDragon Sat 28-Jun-03 08:41:15

Would a "+3 for a good night -1 for a bad night" system work? It doesn't completely negate a good night but might reinforce that bad nights aren't good (IYSWIM!) You would need clear understandable rules for what is good and what is bad though or you'll be back to arguing what is worth a reward and what isn't. I can't help with the AS obsessive nature of it As you say, maybe if it is purely for staying in his room then it may be less "addictive".

Hook & eye type latches high up on doors would stop him getting anywhere with a door and are easy to put up with minimal damage. Would a fridge lock fit your fridge/freezer? As for the kitchen doorway, there was a thread recently about a wandering child where someone suggested a "dog gate" which was like a stair gate only bigger. Would this work or would it spur your DS on to find a way over it?

tigermoth Sat 28-Jun-03 10:23:57

What a problem, oakmaiden. It's not just the getting out of bed, it's the fiddling around with dangerous things in the house.

As I don't have a child with AS I don't know what punishment/reward systems will work but agree with you that you have to do something along these lines.

My gut instinct is to go for the making the house safe and boring route. In the end it's the only way you can be sure your ds is not going to come to harm.

Talking of alarms, would baby monitors help? If you position them very high up so your ds can't reach them to turn them off, you could put one in his bedroom and/or others scattered about the house. Turn them up very loud. Keep one in your room and then if there's movement, you would hear it.

If you can't lock the fridge or other places of interest, how about firmly attaching some windchimes to the door etc or something else that will make a loud 'wake up' noise even when lightly touched?

Of course these disturbances could cause havoc with your sleep but will *hopefully* act as a deterrent to your son.

smokey Sat 28-Jun-03 12:39:57

My ds did not sleep regularly through the night until he was nearly 8 years old. He would come into our room at least 2 or 3 times a night, every night, complaining that he could not sleep, or suffering from sleep disturbances. We tried everything over the years, but even the professionals had no solution, apart from Ritalin which we did not try.

In the end, what made him change his patterns was the fact that he wanted to try sleepovers at school. This incentive was enough to make him really try to stay in bed. He now sleeps OK in his own bed, although still suffers from insomnia anywhere else (and unfortunately has had to abandon sleepovers at school as a result).

I know your situation is slightly different and I do not know how old your ds is, but I wonder if there is some incentive that you can find that would be important enough to him to get him to stay in his room? Certainly we found rewards and punishments had no effect with our ds.

smokey Sat 28-Jun-03 12:42:55

Sorry, have just realised the title to your thread says your ds is 5!

mcnight Fri 15-Oct-04 15:30:53

hi my child had sleep issues.. it does get better. i promise .my child has AS..teach him that sleep isn't a bad thing. children with aspergers do not need alot of well as sleeping is very diff . for them. talk to a doctor about sleep enhancers.. "melatonin".5yrs is not too young. i read a book called moonbeams (meditation book for kids) it changed our lives.
Rewards probably won't work ..they become obsessions.routine is a huge part to the same routine every he learns what to do ..he needs you to help him succeed. i know its frustrating. but thats our job as a parent.right? best wishes

Punnet Fri 01-Apr-05 21:19:08

I am just posting to symoathise as my Son (5) who has AS is going through exactly the same thing- it is hard isn't it, because you don't get a break. Sam wanders around at night, but lately bed has become a real trigger for screaming, the lot- it is very depressing.

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