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Can't stand these bedtime meltdowns!!

(21 Posts)
SleepForTheWeak Sat 07-Jan-17 18:13:21

DD (2) is a crap sleeper (I've written many a thread about her!!) although certainly isn't as bad as she once was.

Right now, bedtime is such a soul destroying struggle. I'm hoping it's just a 'phase' like many others before - but I really dread bedtime and not sure how to change things. Any advice greatly received!

Her Dad and I take night about for bath and bed, we've done this for some time and it works well for us. After bath she has a cup of warm milk, a bit of CBeebies, then upstairs for stories and bed. This has been her routine for about a year. Since going into her toddler bed (about 3 months ago) we lie down beside her until she falls asleep. A bit of a pain and can sometimes take a while, but it's not dramatic or too much trouble.

Recently, however, as soon as we lie down beside her in preparation of her falling asleep, she goes crazy! She'll say 'mummy/daddy down!!' But if we get off the bed she starts screaming harder staying 'mummy/daddy in my bed!!' And so it goes on! She won't want to lie down, takes her socks off then wants them on/off/on/off. She often wants us to leave the room but if we do she starts kicking and hitting the door, screaming, until we come back in - then tells us to get out again 😕

It seems there is nothing we can do to prevent or stop it from happening. I often end up in tears or shouting at her. It can take anywhere up to 2 hours for her to finally give in and fall asleep. It's horrible seeing her so upset and frustrated.

It's worse if she's had a nap that day, and if her nap is too late in the afternoon it can take till 10pm before she's asleep. The problem is she often needs a nap to get through the day as the same situation can arise during the night so she's shattered. If we push through and have a no nap day (like today) she's still likely to kick off but usually it doesn't last too long as she's so tired and asleep for 7/7.30.

Sorry for the looooooog post!! Thanks so much if you have read it and can offer any sympathy advice

esiotrot2015 Sat 07-Jan-17 18:16:59

Have you tried bribery in the fomr of star charts?
So if you tell her if she lies down nicely and goes to sleep without yelling she gets a star in the morning and a star leads eventually to a treat?

SleepForTheWeak Sat 07-Jan-17 18:22:37

I'm not sure she'd understand the concept, and generally her response to anything suggested is 'No!'

It's like all logic (whoever much toddlers have!) just goes out the window and she doesn't even know why she's acting like she does

mrsBeverleygoldberg Sat 07-Jan-17 18:23:41

Get the book Raising a Spirited Child . It really helped me with ds2. He has a problem with transitions. Bath, story, bed were too close together and very stressful for him and me! Your dd sounds similar.
It also sounds like she is in charge at the moment. With ds2 we would turn him round without eye contact or speaking and put him in bed. Again and again until he got the message. Be firm don't engage with talking or eye contact as it will become a distraction and discussion that makes bedtime later.

SleepForTheWeak Sat 07-Jan-17 18:31:33

Thanks Mrs, I'll look the book up. I would say she's definitely in charge. She doesn't get out her bed, if she tries I just swing her legs back in until she gives out. I also stop trying to reason with her as it's pointless. 'Spirited' is a good way to describe her!

She's always needed helping going to sleep, right from a tiny baby. We hired a sleep consultant at 10months and with a gentle gradual approach menthod had her sleeping through and going to sleep independently in 6 weeks. It lasted 3 months, then teething/illness hit and we were back to square one.

I've accepted she's anxious about separation, it's in her personality and I'm confidant she'll get better with time. I don't mind sitting with her until she falls asleep, but I CAN'T STAND what we are experiencing just now

FATEdestiny Sat 07-Jan-17 19:34:57

You need to start being the boss. She needs you to start being the boss

She wants you on the bed
She wants you off the bed
She wants socks on/off/on/off
She wants you to leave the room
She wants you come back in
then tells us to get out again

She is 2. She does not know what she wants. With bedtime, stop giving her choices. Remove her choices.

Be the parent. You are the grown up.

Set her some boundaries.

Tell her what going to be happen. Tell her what will be happening next and what will be happening after that.

Then offer no options. No socks on or off debate. Make a decision - socks on or socks off? You decide and then tell her: "your socks are staying on dd"

No on or off the bed debate. You decide. "Mummy will lie here until asleep". Or mummy/daddy will leave (which is absolutely reasonable) and she will go to sleep alone.

She needs YOU to make these decisions.

SleepForTheWeak Sat 07-Jan-17 20:22:40

You are right Fate.

SleepForTheWeak Sat 07-Jan-17 20:27:26

We had tears tonight because she wanted another book/wanted to sit up/wanted to sit on the floor. I had told her when her last story was and stuck to that, and every time she tried to get out of bed I put her back in (jeez she's strong!!).

I have her a cuddle until she calmed down and then she asked to lie down in bed and was asleep within 5 minutes.

No nap though and a relatively active day so she was shattered

SilverLinings2014 Sat 07-Jan-17 20:35:37

Agree with fate, she needs boundaries. At the moment she has too much power which, strange as it seems, is an uncomfortable position for a 2 year old to be in. She is asking you, in the only way she knows how, to take charge and help her and she's instinctively going to keep testing until you do so.

She needs to know what the boundaries are and that they can't be changed by her behaviour, although that won't stop her trying, and nor should it - she's 2, it's her job to test boundaries and your job to be a calm, confident parent who's in charge and who she can trust to set limits and make choices when it's appropriate and/or when she's finding it hard to do so herself.

SilverLinings2014 Sat 07-Jan-17 20:39:33

Cross post sleep. That's brilliant progress. Sticking with it is so important. You need to be consistent so that she knows certain things are non negotiable and can feel safe in having you take charge. It's hard and because she's a bright, spirited child, you might have a few difficult nap times/ bedtimes until things become established, but your DD deserves it.

FATEdestiny Sat 07-Jan-17 20:46:23

Using planning and expectations language can help. Starting, well I was going to say dinner time but actually it's all the time really. I use language that tells the children what's coming up next all the time.

- dinner time now. If you eat it all up you can have a yogurt
- nearly finished your dinner, do you wany to come and walk the dog after dinner?
- CBeebies when we get home (from the dog walk). Do you want a drink?
- Bedtime after <insert program> has finished. Don't forget to drink your milk. Which story do you want tonight?
- upstairs for bedtime. Brush your teeth first then into sleepsuit and story
- brushing teeth time. Sleepsuit on next
- into sleepsuit and sleeping bag then. Which story did you want? One story and then into bed.
- Story time and kisses.... And so on

It's offering some choice, but within your strict boundaries and constraints. Constant reitteration if what will happen next and you expectations of what you expect the child to do.

Bubbinsmakesthree Sun 08-Jan-17 02:45:40

We went through a v similar phase (escalating demands, getting hysterical) with our DS at 2.

Previously he self-settled but he suddenly started getting upset when we tried to leave the room. When we stayed to comfort him he got more and more agitated and was making contradictory demands (the socks on/off thing, chucking soft toys out of the cot then wanting them back etc).

I felt we were in a catch-22 as I didn't want to leave him to cry but breaking his normal routine was making things worse resulting in hours of screaming no matter what we did.

I was at my wits end but the phase passed quickly - we were back to normal within a few weeks. However we helped it along by being consistent and stopping getting involved in all his demands. For us that meant sitting just outside his door and meeting every demand and question with "it's sleep time DS".

differentnameforthis Sun 08-Jan-17 03:29:21

Bath before bed always hypes my youngest up (se is 8 now) and it has been like this since she was a baby.

CakesRUs Sun 08-Jan-17 03:43:42

Really unhelpful for you right now but I always left my DC's as babies awake, at bedtime, and not stayed with them till they fell asleep, they didn't seem to expect it as it never happened. Obviously, as newborns they were in with us, but from starting sleeping through the night, having outgrown the moses basket and being put in a cot age, after bath, boob/bottle, book, I put them down if they were awake, put the tinkly mobile on above the cot and left them. Fortunately, cause this could have been a fluke, they were happy to go to bed after the night time routine and not have us stay with them till they were asleep and we never did. I'm saying this in case someone else finds it helpful. Sorry, OP, really hope she settles for you soon.

SleepForTheWeak Sun 08-Jan-17 07:54:51

Cakes if DD had ever self settled then we would have left her to it, but she's always needed SOMETHING. As I said we worked really hard with a sleep consultant to achieve this and we did, but because it's obviously not naturally in her she quickly reverted as soon as illness/teething hit. I'm pregnant with DC2 so perhaps he/she will be different in that respect crosses all fingers and toes

I think some babies/infants are naturally happy to be left and self settle - and some aren't. Personally I don't mind staying with DD as I remember being anxious at bedtime when I was young and the comfort of having my mum with me. I grew out of it and so will DD (eventually!!!) but it's these meltdowns I can't abide and I need to tackle these in the most consistent but fair way as possible.

On the plus side, she slept till 7.30 without a peep last night

REALLY hoping it's a phase

Bubbinsmakesthree Sun 08-Jan-17 08:14:25

The only other thing I would say OP is that my DS used to need us with him (normally cuddled to sleep or at least a hand on his back) to settle until about 18 months then we hit a similar bad patch where he wouldn't settle at all if we were present (jumping about, chattering, pulling my hair - anything but laying down to sleep). but cried and cried if we went away. Again I felt we were in a no-win situation as neither leaving him nor staying with him seemed to help but, with some trial and error and frustration that was the point he switched to self-settling at bedtime.

It's possible that your DD is at a similar stage and that she might be ready to have less intervention to get to sleep?

SleepForTheWeak Sun 08-Jan-17 08:20:57

Perhaps bubb, and it would would be great if she could before DC2 arrives.

Hopefully these tantrums will pass and when she's happier at bedtime we can make some steps...

Bubbinsmakesthree Sun 08-Jan-17 13:22:23

Obviously your DD might be different but for us we had to make changes for bedtimes to improve - trying to do what had worked in the past didn't work any more. We drove ourselves a bit mad thinking he needed more help falling asleep but actually it turned out he needed less. Based on his first 18 months I thought he'd be one of those children that co-sleeps for years but he just switched!

SleepForTheWeak Sun 08-Jan-17 20:32:15

Asleep within 20 minutes without a fuss tonight for her Dad (he still stayed with her but no tears or screaming.)

We explained exactly what was going to happen at bedtime, and we also set up a gro clock which I remembered she'd been given as a present when she was born. She was super excited about that!

Tried to get through the day without a nap but she fell asleep on my knee at 2 after swimming so I let her doze for 30minutes - luckily it didn't impact negatively on bedtime.

Fingers crossed we get a continuous improvement from here....

Kariana Mon 09-Jan-17 13:31:10

Sounds like you have made good progress. Don't forget though that overtiredness can result in a a stressful bedtime so keeping her awake all day might be a mistake. Could you encourage a short nap/rest consistently just after lunch so that she isn't getting overtired at bedtime. Alternatively on no nap days it might be worth bringing bedtime forwards half an hour.

SleepForTheWeak Mon 09-Jan-17 18:38:28

We always give her the opportunity to nap, usually I take the dog out for a walk after lunch and so she'll come in the pram - or we have some quiet time and she often falls asleep on my knee. Totally depends on what time she wakes in the morning - regardless of how she slept. Usually, if she sleeps after 7.30 she'll not nap, but if she sleeps for 12 hours and wakes at 6.30 she'll need a nap.

Today is a no nap day, will be taking her upstairs soon and fingers crossed she'll be asleep for 7/7.30 (compared to about 9 if she's had a nap!!)

The transition of 1 nap to 0 naps is a drawn out one!

Hoping for a peaceful bedtime tonight. Despite the success last night she still woke twice before morning - luckily she wasn't screaming and inconsolable but she played with my hair for a good hour both times until she fell back asleep 🙄

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