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2.5yo screaming and hurting himself when I leave the room at bedtime

(18 Posts)
Shortfatandangry Thu 08-Sep-16 13:04:40

So for the last week or so my ds has been having meltdown's of biblical proportions.

The first part of bedtime goes as usual. When I try to leave the room, he wants light on/toy/nose blown/pee whatever. When he then gets what he wants and I go to leave the room again, he's changed his mind and doesn't want it anymore or wants it done again. So on, so forth. If we leave him to cry (and wake his 1yo sister) he becomes hysterical, bangs head on wall, rams knee's against stairgate. Continue for 2hrs approx. We're at our wits end. Have tried cc/gradual exit etc. Have removed all toys/lights from his room. Have screamed/shouted to my shame and have also completely ignored him. No change. He's very clever and understands that he is doing wrong, but doesn't seem to give a shit. Any tips/tricks/commiserations?


IfTheCapFitsWearIt Thu 08-Sep-16 13:15:42

This might fly in the face of every bit of advice.

But my view is he needs the attention to reassure him. You say you have a 1 year old too.........

I would suggest you spend a few nights just staying with him until he is asleep, making him feel secure.

I know, I know! some will say its making a rod for your own back, but at 2 1/5 he's asking for your love and reasurance in the only way he knows how.

I too had this with my youngest at a similar age. Bitter experience has brought me to my suggestion, and in my circumstances it didn't make a rod. Dc2 just became a happier child.

I tried everything before I tried this.

Staying with him worked, once he was more secure in himself, I started to gently reduce the time with him at bedtime.

trickyex Thu 08-Sep-16 13:18:51

I agree, stay with him and cuddle him till he falls asleep.
He will learn to settle himself but I think its better for him not to force it.

FATEdestiny Thu 08-Sep-16 13:22:20

I agree. Stay with him. Be kind, comforting and reassuring.

Shortfatandangry Thu 08-Sep-16 14:04:42

Thanks guys

I have stayed with him, for up to an hour but not until he's asleep. I'll do that for a few nights and see if there's an improvement. I appreciate that sometimes he just needs a cuddle and I'm prepared to coddle him for a bit, but it's not feasible for me to sit with him a couple of hours every night.
Incidentally, the 1yo gets a kiss and a cuddle and put into her cot. .

trickyex Thu 08-Sep-16 14:50:35

It wont take 2 hours, take a book in with you and read or do some paperwork etc.
Its not unusual for kids to do this, both my DSs were like this when little. Not any more!

StorminaBcup Thu 08-Sep-16 15:01:52

My ds needs a cuddle to go to sleep too. He's soon 3. I was doing gradual retreat which was working really well but with the arrival of ds2 I'm back to square one.

Can you put the toys back in the room and spend a bit of time playing before bath / bed time so he feels a bit more secure in his bedroom?

We're considering removing the baby gate to see if that makes a difference (with the option of just returning him to bed if he gets up). I've read audio books sometimes work too but haven't tried them.

flowers in the meantime. It's exhausting!

Shortfatandangry Thu 08-Sep-16 15:12:15

Thank you storm

Issue is compounded by the fact his ds is still up 2/3 x night, which is obviously not his problem/fault but totally knackering ntl.

We have also considered removing the stair gate but the few times I've left it open he's screamed about that too. It's next on the list to try. I have spoken to his hv who has suggested a reward chart, which I may try and after a few good night's give him a toy back in to play with before sleep.

Just when you think you've got the hang of it eh?!

I will try staying with him, anything really to prevent the screaming which I just can't tolerate and to relieve his distress too.

AuntieMaggie Thu 08-Sep-16 16:22:30

Have you tried putting him to bed later? I've recently gone through similar with my ds and I started putting him to bed a bit later when he starts showing signs of getting tired. We still had to go though some gradual retreat and tolerate some screaming but now he's not too bad. I used to go in every 5 mins if he was crying but if i could hear that he was yawning i would leave him a little longer.

It's so hard and you have to find something that works for you - cuddling ds to sleep didn't work for us but it might for you. But when you do find what works be consistent because if your ds is like mine (and he sounds like he is) it only takes something to happen once and he thinks it's the norm. I once left him to go to the toilet and now he tells me to go to the toilet every night!

Good luck. Hope something works.

Shortfatandangry Fri 09-Sep-16 05:29:20

So worse than ever last night. Sat with him until 9 (started bedtime routine at 6.45) then tried gradual retreat when it was apparent that he was not going to sleep. Couldn't even get as far as the door even after an hour. Then tried to just leave him, so he started running full speed at the gate and screaming hysterically. And I mean screaming hysterically. Tried cc again for another hour but he would go mental if we made it to the door.

I don't think he is afraid, he hasn't communicated that to us and the lights being on and me being in with him has made things worse. I think he's taking the utter piss out of us, it needs knocked on the head but I won't have him hurting himself so now I'm at a loss.

intheBondiBubble Fri 09-Sep-16 05:39:24

My son was similar to this at 3, I notice that if I'm not thinking about rushing to get him asleep he relaxes and falls asleep more quickly, now maybe once a fortnight we have a longer evening 45min of messing about and I just explain I will lie with him if he is going to sleep otherwise i have chores to do, which works a treat, if he is tired he will relax and drop off quickly.

JoandMax Fri 09-Sep-16 05:56:17

Does he still nap in the day? If yes then I'd cut that out to see if it helps.

It really sounds like he wants attention, honestly he's not 'taking the piss', he's only 2!

Can you get in bed with him, cuddle, read stories, stroke his hair, talk quietly? Kind of like love bombing at bedtime? CC or withdrawing aren't working and making you all unhappy. Yes it may take hours for a few days but I'm sure once you change bedtime to be a calm stress free event things will settle. Make sure you've eaten, are in pjs etc and then there's no pressure on either of you to make him sleep......

Shortfatandangry Fri 09-Sep-16 06:23:27

He does still nap but we have reduced it to an hour or less (from about 3).

He is absolutely taking the mic, he's extremely clever and gets this smug little sidegrin on when we go back in. As to why he feels the need to do this, I don't know.

Unfortunately it's not feasible for me to completely give up my evenings to sit in with him, particularly because last night it had no effect whatsoever other than to make things worse when I eventually did leave the room (at 9, to have my dinner because I don't get the chance to eat earlier). I literally have exchanged no conversation with my husband for the last week now, that doesn't involve angry chat about this.

I lay down with him last night, cuddled in. Tickled his face, held his hand. I really really want it to work, who doesn't want an hour alone cuddling their baby to sleep?! But it didn't.

I'm absolutely certain I'm failing him in some way, but I've no idea how to help him. I've tried staying/leaving/gradual retreat, lights on/off, toys in/out. I will not have him hurting himself, but the only solution left is to let him stay up at his leisure, and that's not doing him any favours.

JoandMax Fri 09-Sep-16 06:31:22

Well if it was me I would cut out nap completely, even if it means he's in a grump all afternoon..... Exhaust him physically as much as you possibly can and then try again?

I do sympathise, my youngest needed me with him to fall asleep until he was nearly 4 and is still in our bed frequently now he's 6.5. My other one is a brilliant sleeper, both have same routine etc just sometimes we're unlucky and get a bad sleeper!

Does it make any difference if your DH goes in??

Shortfatandangry Fri 09-Sep-16 06:52:35

To be honest, I'm a terrible sleeper myself and most of my family also suffer some form of insomnia. I could handle if he was just awake not sleepy, it's the huge meltdown's that are so upsetting for all of us.

Every night this week it's been my husband who has eventually managed to settle him, but initially he gets the same reaction as I do. I'm trying not to take it personally, but if it looks like a duck....

We are going to eliminate naps entirely after last night's fiasco, but my heart feels heavy doing it. Poor wee souls fucking knackered.

MissMargie Fri 09-Sep-16 07:03:16

Yes, cut out sleeps in day. Plan not to do anything much 4 onwards as he will be a miserable grump but should fall asleep at bedtime

NellWilsonsWhiteHair Fri 09-Sep-16 07:12:49

My DS became v difficult at bedtime when he was ready to drop his nap - sympathies, I hope cutting that out will help you.

I don't think the fact that he's grinning is proof that this isn't fundamentally driven by anxiety or other more 'deserving' causes. He's not "taking the piss", he wants his parents to be paying him loads of attention because he likes that, and he doesn't like the thought that you're going to be spending your evening without him. Not saying you're not absolutely entitled to your evening without him btw but I can understand where the toddler is coming from!

Things which have helped here at various times -
*telling DS what I'm going to do once he's asleep - not entirely honest but also not huge lies, just mentioning the boring stuff more
*adjusting the bedtime routine to make it either/both more indulgent or more sleep-inducing. So, for example, he used to talk loads after lights out, so I introduced the Talking Minute before lights go out when he has a chance to say all those things, and then I feel quite reasonable in telling him he must stop talking afterwards. Also massage with lavender oil etc.
*just once I did let him get back up with me - he saw how boring it was and that seemed to hugely reassure him that he wasn't missing much and he never tried again! I was a single parent writing my dissertation in the evenings though, not eating dinner with my partner or anything, so this may not translate.

My instinct is that you will get further with this if you can respond with patience and kindness and indulge it for a week or so. But if you do that, you have to do it properly - if you begin by seeming happy to stay with him, and then end up getting cross anyway / reverting to gradual retreat etc, that's only going to keep him on high alert and therefore wide awake.

All easier said than done, I know - especially when you're exhausted. flowers

Shortfatandangry Fri 09-Sep-16 07:34:59

Absolutely Nell that all makes perfect sense. I'm aware that I'm not being consistent enough and I'm going to attempt to really stick to my guns tonight. A major problem I have, which I'm extremely conscious of is my temper. As the name suggests, I'm quite an angry person and so when I feel myself boiling over into screaming mad territory it befits us all if I just leave the room. But then he gets hysterical. But I'm the adult, I need to have stronger control of my temper, and I can see how the inconsistency will just unsettle him further. Thanks for the advice, I'll try harder tonight.

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