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3 year old just will not sleep or stay in his room

(9 Posts)
Cooper1070 Fri 21-Oct-16 09:32:46


The title says it all.

Our son is to be 3 on the 26th October 2016 but this has been going on for about 5 months now and my wife and I are utterly exhausted.

He goes to sleep at roughly the same time each night, 7.00pm or 7.30pm, but he will wake up anywhere between 2 and 4 times during the night. Now this may not appear a problem for some but he refuses to stay in his room so what happens is that he will just scream at the top of his voice "MUMMY! DADDY! for as long as it takes for us to come down. We tried ignoring it but he continued for an hour and 25 minutes, going into absolute meltdown and having tantrums so in the end you have to do something as we have another younger child (who sleeps through every night) who he wakes up.

To make matters worse, he has now worked out how to get around the security lock on his baby gate so just unclips it and lets himself out, coming up to our bedroom and then throwing tantrums when he isn't allowed to stay, stamping and screaming like he is possessed.

Mainly he wants my wife (who is on maternity leave so gets up mostly) but there are many times where I get up because I can't expect her to take the brunt all the time and my son can react very violently screaming "I don't want you Daddy!", kicking and hitting me.

When I am with him on my own, he is so well behaved. He is polite and well behaved - angelic even. The second my wife comes through the door he transforms into the devil and hates me as if I have been mean to him the entire time she's been gone. We just cannot understand it.

We have looked at every website there is, tried every idea that has been mentioned and nothing works. We've tried to offer him rewards to stay in his room - he doesn't want them. We have said that Father Christmas won't come if he doesn't stay in his room - he doesn't care. We did a rewards chart which he likes in the day and responds well to but in the night getting stars or losing stars has no impact on him at all - he wants out of that room and will do whatever it takes to get out and try to get upstairs with us.

It could be a jealousy thing but the simple fact is this, my wife and me are disgustingly happy and in love so he has to accept that. Its not like we ignore him ever, he gets the bulk of the attention all the time and has done since birth. If I am alone with him and our daughter (10 months old), he will play quite happily with me and/or her and is genuinely lovely. wife walks in and he will physically hurt our daughter (poking her in the eye, scratching/pinching her face etc).

I could go on all day - there is a variety of other things he does which are wholly negative and unacceptable but I think you get the point.

Any ideas/advice would be welcome. We are thinking of seeing a specialist to see if there is anything we can do because we are all out of ideas. He goes to day care and pre school (2 different places) and they say he is a delightful boy who is just a normal 3 year old and he will settle. But my mother in law witnessed how awful he is with me last weekend and said "I am really not happy at all about the way he speaks to Steve."

Anyway, over to you guys. We need help because my job is suffering due to being exhausted. My wife and I got far more sleep when the kids were newborns.


Bagina Fri 21-Oct-16 09:43:25

What are the consequences for his behaviour?
Get a gro clock to back you up?
Personally I'd let him cry himself out. You are the grown ups and in charge, and no means no. Easier said than done. We had hours of crying. It was hugely stressful and upsetting, but after 5 days he didn't do it again. I think they have to know that there is no negotiating here and it just isn't going to happen. Much easier said than done, but that's my advice!

Cooper1070 Fri 21-Oct-16 09:59:38

Hi Bagina,

thanks for the reply.

We have a gro clock. He refuses to adhere to it and just pulls the power cord from it so it switches off. I say "Did you pull the power cord out?" and he just says "No."


Offering a nice reward to stay in bed - doesn't work

Taking things away as a punishment - doesn't care

Sitting and talking calmly to him - works if my wife does it, can work if I do it but often he just goes into a demented rage with me because I am not Mummy. He will absolutely repeat his behaviour of screaming "MUMMY! DADDY!" if and when he wakes again regardless.

Telling him off firmly - works if my wife does it and if I do it. Again, he will absolutely repeat his behaviour regardless if and when he wakes again.

We tried the ignoring thing. What we are dealing with is THE most stubborn child imaginable. He will keep going as long as it takes to get what he wants and as much as experts like Super Nanny say "You must not give in no matter how long it takes", that just isn't real life for us.

During an ignoring stage, he has, on a few occasions, removed his night pants and pee'd all over his bed or emptied a juice bottle all over the bed then screaming his bed is wet. For such a young boy he is extremely devious/intelligent (depends which way you decide to view it).

We have discussed getting another child proof baby gate but before he hard worked out how to open the current one, he used to remove one of his drawers, empty it on the floor and then use it as a step to climb on to climb over the gate anyway.

My wife's aunt is a trained professional in child care. She says he is completely normal, extremely intelligent and knows what he wants but is not yet old enough to understand reason or why he has to stick to certain rules. She says he will grow out of it. The point is, that is an indeterminable amount of time and the wife and I are at a loss as to what to do to try and solve the issue.

Bagina Fri 21-Oct-16 10:15:10

Bloody hell! I'm sure someone will be along to offer some advice. I haven't had to deal with that level of defiance (deliberately weeing on bed). A bit lame but I was told to read "The Explosive Child" . I bought it but didn't read it. Supposed to be good though. You definitely need some strategies in place. It doesn't really help to hear that it's "normal". I'm sure it's not the norm for most parents. Is he at pre school? We had the behavioural specialist come in to do an observation. This was at nearly 3. She said he was fine. Six months after that he turned into the most lovely child and still is.

Cooper1070 Fri 21-Oct-16 10:34:17

Yes he is at both pre school and day care. Maybe a behavioural Specialist is an idea - thanks Bagina.

Tootsiepops Fri 21-Oct-16 10:41:20

Would he sleep in your bed with you both?

Randytortoise Fri 21-Oct-16 10:41:50

What ever you try, research suggests needd to be done consistently for at least a month for any changes to really work. It's much easier said than done but we had similar problems with dc to (but not as extreme). Me and dh worked out a plan that we could both do and stuck to it. I found it really difficult not to slip back into old habits especially when he was sobbing 'I need my mummy'. It was awful to start with but after 6 weeks or so everyone is now sleeping through most nights. If he does still wake, he is returned straight back to his bed.
It's so difficult for everyone.

Cooper1070 Fri 21-Oct-16 17:32:43


Tootsiepops - he would absolutely sleep in our bed with us both but that is not something we ever want to start.

Randytortoise - we have stuck with the same theme for months but putting him back to bed, telling him it is nighttime and he must go to sleep until morning. He does go back to sleep but if he wakes again, the same process starts again as if it is the first time and it has been 5 months now.

43percentburnt Fri 21-Oct-16 17:38:21

Have you tried telling him before bed what nice things you will do tomorrow if he sleeps all night. Sounds a bit basic but helped us with DS when he was 2 and we were getting a routine (previously coslept). You could remind him at 2/4am that it's important to go back to sleep so he/mummy/you are awake in the morning to go to the park/pool/indoor play etc.

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