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I am becoming aggressive dealing with DS (6) sleep problems. Please help me stop

(72 Posts)
peppermintpig Wed 22-Dec-10 21:40:52

We are a close, loving family. I am extremely relaxed type and it takes alot to make me angry. Our house is happy and we all laugh and cuddle alot.

BUT DS1 has always had sleep problems. He didn't sleep through the night til he was 5 and now he is 6 he fights going to sleep with everything he has got - although once asleep he stays asleep.

If we are calm and understanding about his sleep issues he will be up and down until 11ish and he is totally exhausted. Not to mention we spend our whole evening dealing with him and other DC are woken up as he shouts so loudly when we send him back upstairs.

The only thing that 'works' is when we totally lose the plot with him, shout very loudly, yell, take toys away. He shouts back and argues but eventually stops.

The problem is that the shouting and yelling from me and DH is getting more intense and I find myself grabbing him hard and smacking his bottom and shouting very loud, very close to his face out of sheer frustration. It reaches this point perhaps once a week.

I KNOW this is totally wrong and I feel sick and ashamed writing it but something comes over me and it just happens. We always end up calm and cuddle and I apologise and so does he but I just do not understand my behaviour and need to stop

Nothing in my life has made me react like this.

He would love to sleep in our room - do we just do this ? We tried when he was younger and after a week or so the problem began again.

I LOVE my little boy more than anything and dread to think what memory this is creating. Its Christmas and we have just had the most horrible fight to get him to go to bed.

We do sometimes let him stay up later as a reward which worked well for a while but this has now become a battle point.

girliefriend Wed 22-Dec-10 21:48:36

Have you tried going all supernanny on him? ie having a set bedtime routine, which if it were me in this situation I would start early so in pjs by 6.30pm, maybe supper, milk, story and into bed for 7pm. If he gets out you say its bedtime sweetie and take him back, if he gets out again just say bedtime and take him back and after that say nothing just lead him by the hand and take him back to bed. I imagine the 1st night you do this he will try your patience like never before but keep calm avoid any interaction and keep going. Once he realises there is nothing to be gained in terms of attention (positive or negative) it will get better. Be consistant, it sounds like you need to do something differently to break this cycle.

arentfanny Wed 22-Dec-10 21:50:43

DD struggles, we did this last year and are now doing it gaain as she is starting to fight bedtime again. We put her to bed then stay in the room until she is asleep. It works with her.

Casmama Wed 22-Dec-10 21:51:14

It sounds very difficult for you. My ds is much younger so not speaking from experience but I wonder if you could discuss with your son that after bedtime he is not allowed out of his room and he must be quiet. If he is not quiet or he comes out of his room then the consequences will be eg confiscated toys or not playing with friends etc. At the same time you could say that if he goes to bed quietly and stay there then there will be some treat at the weekend or something but only if he does well all week and if not then his siblings will miss out on the treat as well.
Sorry if this is daft but didn't want to leave your post unanswered.

garrowismylaw Wed 22-Dec-10 21:51:36

Am so on your side here. My 3 are currently bouncing round living room with me trying to keep calm.

NellyFartado Wed 22-Dec-10 21:51:42

I think Girliefriend's advice is very good (though I'm sure it's easier said than done!) I wouldn't let him sleep in your room as it would just create another problem. I hope you manage to sort it out - any kind of upset like that is horrible for everyone.

ragged Wed 22-Dec-10 21:53:46

I have had lots problems getting DS2 to sleep (same sort of age).
Fish oils and limiting food intake too close to bed time seem to have helped a lot. I know that heavy exercise in the day would, too. And keeping the room totally dark and quiet -- I do sit with him while he's in bed but I don't let him talk to me or I leave.

We haven't had nearly so many problems since I started those.

NellyFartado Wed 22-Dec-10 21:54:18

I've just seen casamama's post. My DS went to bed like a lamb until he turned eight, then started trying to invent excuses/tantrums at bedtime. I explained very calmly that he would be allowed 20 minutes on the computer after every quiet bedtime. That worked for him. I wouldn't make siblings' treats dependent on one child's behaviour, though: that sounds like a recipe for creating sibling grievances.

Casmama Wed 22-Dec-10 21:59:57

Probably right about sibling grievances - can you tell I only have one child!

peppermintpig Wed 22-Dec-10 23:30:15

Thanks everyone - We have a rock solid routine as a consequence of his earlier sleep problems. His room is dark and quiet. The only non routine is the later bedtime we started to allow him as a reward and this worked for a while but became counterproductive as became yet another thing for him to debate and tantrum about at bedtime.

when I said that being calm and understanding meant he would be up til 11ish this includes all the things like taking him back to bed every time he got up, having consequences such as a toy taken away etc. He argues so loudly every single time about these that he wakes the other DC. Approx once a week I snap.

He has some very deep seated psychological issues with sleep - he fights it like crazy and the more we make an issue of it the more he fights it.

Part of me thinks we need some professional help but the other half thinks he just has to grow out of it but I'm not sure what to do until he does....

peppermintpig Wed 22-Dec-10 23:35:42

We could go back to sitting with him when he goes to bed I suppose. We started using story CD's a while ago as it takes him so long to fall asleep as he's fighting sleep). But he has started getting wound up by these as he gets cross if he starts to fall asleep and misses a bit (even though its almost always the same CD)

fattybum Wed 22-Dec-10 23:38:45

this will probably be unpopular, but why not have him in the room with you? I cosleep with ds1 and 2 and they are 4.6 and 2.3, hubby has blow up bed! We only have a 1 bed flat so no choice, but i reckon we would have sleep probs otherwise. Whats so wrong with kids sharing a room with parents? It wont last forever! They go to bed happily at 7pm on their own and i go up later.

TrinityMotherOfRhinos Wed 22-Dec-10 23:44:55

what girliefriend said, like totally

you will think you have been doing it but you haven't

TrinityMotherOfRhinos Wed 22-Dec-10 23:46:43

sod thee cds and everything

he can learn to just fall asleep on his own

seriulsy do the the girliefriend then
BY THE LETTER

no interaction AT ALL from the third time

ignore ignore ignore
seriously

MaryMotherOfCheeses Wed 22-Dec-10 23:55:29

Sorry i'm with Trinity and girlie.

This sounds very much like a discipline issue.

What's he like during the day?

CaptainNancy Thu 23-Dec-10 00:08:21

peppermint- you could be describing my dd! I seriously think she has deep-seated psychological issues with falling asleep/waking up- it is the losing of control that she cannot abide- but people look at me askance when I suggest this!

She is abnormally interested in looking at people that are asleep (eg DS and DH) and always begs to be present when we wake DS from his nap.

We have done the super-strict to the letter routine from birth- she has always had a strong bedtime routine, and she recognised the cues from a very young age- But. They. Don't. Help. Her! She finds it so difficult to drop off, and now she is older (just shy of 5) she is becoming saddened and upset by her difficulties, particularly as her brother can drop-off within minutes, quietly, calmly and unassisted.

She is currently (pretty much permanently) sleeping in our room, at the side of me as she has become terrified of going to sleep in her own room (Mama, the shadows are real; Mama, I can still see the things when I have my eyes closed, etc). She isn't doing it for effect- she is genuinely scared - and this has been for about 6 or 7 weeks now.

I don't know what the answer is, and we are close to seeking professional help (as she screams out/calls out throughout the entire night too- 4, 5, 6 or more times, has terrible nightmares, and night terrors, has recently begun sleepwalking) - I just wanted you to know that someone understands, and you are not alone.

milou2 Thu 23-Dec-10 00:29:11

Resting on a put up bed with a warm duvet and pillows in the same room as the child takes a lot of angst out of it for me. Better than sitting up with the child.

A drop of night remedy and valerian in a glass of water helped me be calmer when I had a phase of getting very wound up and angry with him late at night.

I get into my night clothes and dressing gown early in the evening so that at least I know that I am preparing for bed, even if ds2 is a night owl.

I don't leave any tasks for after ds2 should be asleep now, so once he's asleep the day is done.

DS2 (12 asd) is in a phase of wanting me to sleep in the same room as him and I'm simply doing it. This will pass and change. If it isn't this it'll be something else....at least this is relatively easy to handle in our case.

He has 'tried' to go to sleep before he is ready and gets upset that he doesn't just drop off the way I do. So my approach is for the run up to sleep to be calm even if it isn't quick.

Blackletterday Thu 23-Dec-10 00:46:00

I honestly don't know how those who stay with them while they fall asleep/co-sleep cope tbh. I am with them quite enough during the day, the few hours of peace I get in the evening keep me sane. It's hard enough getting through story/a million procrastinating hugs.

I would go with the supernanny approach, it's at least worth a try. I saw one program where the child was up till about 3am for a few nights. Worked eventually, they have to know that you are not going to give in I think.

The few times I have co-slept with an older child through necessity, they wittered on and on for hours. Staying with them in the room would equal extra clambering/hugging/pretending to be a lion time to my 4 and 7 yo's.

Blackletterday Thu 23-Dec-10 00:54:47

Also a program about a young girl who didn't sleep hmm. She was apparently sleep playing or summat can't remember. Turns out the Mum was co-sleeping/indulging the child in playing in the middle of the night (ring a bell with anyone?). Anyway what I meant to say was putting in own bed and the supernanny approach worked for her.

Dd about 4 went through a phase of getting out of bed 60 times before sleep, I did the supernanny no interaction thing. Got fed up after about a week and sat outside her door for 2 nights holding it closed so she couldn't get out. {blush] She eventually got the message.

FrustratedHippy Thu 23-Dec-10 01:00:39

op - I think you said you kind of 'won' the battle when you had the reward system. Your choice of 'reward' astounds me i must say though....I cannot fathom why you are rewarding him with the one thing you are trying to overcome

IIWY I would start again.

Strict routine - firm but fair with a different reward. Money might even work at 6 - enabling him to save up for something after say a week of good nights

I really feel for you - i need an easy bedtime for my sanity

fattybum Thu 23-Dec-10 09:59:30

thats the thing for me, i DO get my ev
ening. Ds1 and 2 go up at 7 in my bed by themselves, then i go up when im ready. I dont play/talk etc through the night, i wouldn't tolerate that either.

It just annoys me that people are so funny about children sleeping in the room with parents. In some countries its the norm and they don't end up pyschologically damaged. Whats the big deal?

homeboys Thu 23-Dec-10 12:26:03

Message withdrawn

ommmward Thu 23-Dec-10 13:39:22

Some people under-produce melatonin. They find it very very difficult to fall asleep.

I have known people who can take up to 3-4 hours of lying quietly in bed, even when exhausted, before they drop off. It need not be a psychological issue; it can be a simple matter of brain chemistry. And how awful it would be if you later discovered that your son under-produces melatonin so he Really Could Not Fall Asleep Unaided, but you went all supernanny on him

You can get melatonin by mail order from the States. Quite a lot of people in the Special Needs forum do that, or get it on prescription from their doctor (perhaps more socially acceptable). It sounds as if the quick release melatonin would be fine for him, since he's not waking multiple times in the night, right?

If this is a melatonin issue, then within half an hour of being given half a capsule, or however much the GP recommends, your child will be asleep where he stands - just take him gently off to bed about 15 mins after giving him the melatonin and do whatever calm things help him drop off on a good night.

If that works, then come and ask in the Special Needs forum about how to get the best out of a long-term melatonin need! (if the child takes it every night, it can stop working after a bit, and you have to give them a break)

peppermintpig Thu 23-Dec-10 14:35:21

Some really interesting feedback, thanks everyone.

He is very well behaved during the day - not given to tantrums or challenging behaviour at all which is why I say its a deep-seated issue re sleep (whether psychological or physiological). I think Captain Nancy understands this element.

The reason we rewarded with late night (eg 5 nights good sleep, then a late night) is to give him some time by himself with us and to make it clear we wanted to spend time with him too. He was an only child for 4 years. Its very difficult to do this with 2 other children.

Ommmward - you're exactly right I am scared on going too supernanny on him for the one area where he needs our support - although what I am doing now is much worse but patience wears so thin. I will look more into the melatonin issue although I am not keen on medication.

ommmward Thu 23-Dec-10 14:39:05

I'm not a medication fan myself, but I reassure myself with the knowledge that melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone - it's not giving someone a drug that normal people don't have in their systems, it's giving them a boost of it so that their system looks a bit more like normal people's, and so that they aren't being stopped from going to sleep by the lack of producing that hormone to sufficient levels.

We use it every few months, and when we do, we use it every few days for a week or so to help to re-set bed time to something the entire family is comfortable with.

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