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Unkind, or effective?

(9 Posts)
misshardbroom Wed 05-Aug-09 23:39:04

OK, I would like some honest feedback on this, but please not a huge flaming, because I am doing my best.

DS1 is 4.7 and due to go to school in September. He's always been a rather high maintenance child, thinks very deeply, and as a toddler had some severe problems around sleep. He also demands quite a lot of my time and attention at bedtime.

For the last 10 months or so, he's been so much better, settling willingly by himself at bedtime, sleeping through the night in his own bed, etc.

So I know he can do it.

Since he finished preschool there has been a marked difference in his behaviour (for the worse), which I totally put down to being at a loose end, and ready for school. However, with it has come a return of difficult behaviour at bedtime.

He has a story with me by himself in his room, a brief chat and a hug & kiss goodnight. He's then left to settle himself down (this is an entirely consistent routine that's been followed for years, and his elder sister and younger brother are doing exactly the same thing in their rooms).

Over the last couple of weeks he's taken to refusing to lie down, shouting out for me repeatedly, claiming he's scared to go to sleep in case of bad dreams, etc etc. There hasn't been anything to scare him, I'm careful about what he watches on TV and he's with me all the time so I'd know if there'd been any sort of frightening incident.

I think he's messing about.

So I've been kind, I've been firm, I've used loose 'warnings' (e.g. 'well how can you go to Granny's for a sleepover when you won't settle at home?') and nothing works.

He has a very prized collection of cars which he plays with every day. Tonight, I went through the whole routine and left him. He shouted out. I went in and was kind but firm and told him to settle. He did it again so I told him that if I had to come in to him again I would take one car away each time.

He knocked it off instantly.

But is this an effective behaviour modification technique understandable to a bright 4.7 y.o, or an unkind way of bullying a child into doing as he's told?

MamaG Wed 05-Aug-09 23:41:19

He's trying it on. You did the right thing. You haven't smashed the cars with a hammer have you? No. So don't stress.

TAFKAtheUrbanDryad Wed 05-Aug-09 23:42:46

I'm going to do that hated MN thing and answer when I have no personal experience but just off the top of my head:

Is taking cars away a punishment which fits the crime? I mean, yeah, it's a consequence, but will he make the connection between messing around at bedtime and losing cars?

Also, are absolutely certain sure that nothing has freaked him out? Bad dreams don't just come from watching age inappropriate tv, or whatever. He might be worried about starting big school, or any number of things that seem massive in his head.

I would sit by him till he falls asleep, or maybe wait by the door, if he is used to settling himself. But then I am namby pamby soft parent, and my oldest is only 2 and a half, so what do I know? grin

bosch Wed 05-Aug-09 23:42:53

For my money it worked and I wouldn't worry about it.

I think he is less tired than when he goes to preschool and that's why he's coming up with random reasons not to settle at night. Has his getting up time slipped? Less active during the day and slightly later up in the morning will equal later nights, he can't help it.

I think you're a good mother!

misshardbroom Wed 05-Aug-09 23:43:09

I might do if they're left all over my hall floor one more time, but no, not yet! grin

hmc Wed 05-Aug-09 23:43:16

It sounds completely reasonable to me

misshardbroom Wed 05-Aug-09 23:46:19

He's definitely less active during the day, which I'm sure has a bearing.

Also, because he's being a pain in the bum during the day, I think he knows I'm not best pleased with him so he's clinging more for reassurance too.

TAFKA - I'm such a hypocrite because normally I give the advice of 'do what gets you through' to anyone on MN with sleep problems... but I have a nasty feeling that to give in to him would be the thin end of the wedge. Poor little DD would be waiting all night to get her story!

MollieO Wed 05-Aug-09 23:49:37

Not sure I can offer any advice but just want you to know that my ds (5.1) has had a change in behaviour since school finished. Bedtime behaviour okay but the rest of the day is a complete nightmare, so much so that if I could go to work at weekends I would. He is active during the day (holiday club) but has less discipline than at school and I'm wondering if that is the problem.

Ds had night terrors as a baby and these have also reappeared since school finished. He has started sleepwalking too.

I'm hoping that it will all get back to normal in a month when school starts. smile

cornsillk Wed 05-Aug-09 23:51:47

If you have dd to see to as well then you have to be able to put him to bed. It sounds fine to me. Stop worrying!

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