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toddler hysterical when not co-sleeping, what to do?

(10 Posts)
time4tea Sun 10-May-09 08:04:17

DS2 (2.4 years old) suddenly started screaming hysterically when waking up at night at about 2years old, had been a very good sleeper up until then. Nothing obviously wrong with him in terms of health. But he seemed really distressed, so I got into bed beside him, as the normal settling routine for him, saying "mummy's nearby, time for sleep" and keeping on going in there seemed to really make him more distressed.

Now I've been doing this for about 4 months - am knackered! I've tried Elizabeth Pantly methods - giving him a snuggle toy, gently withdrawing when he's nearly asleep (his eyes fly open, and he screams hysterically)

any thoughts? DH is proposing letting him cry to sleep, which of course I don't want to do.

FunkierThanAMosquitosTweeter Sun 10-May-09 08:10:46

Oh! My DS (also 2.4 years old) has just started doing this too, I have no idea why and I had just logged on to see if anyone had any advice!
Sorry I know this is no help to you at all, but you're not alone smile

ches Sun 10-May-09 23:37:39

I'm of the opinion that a 2yo crying is a totally different thing to letting a baby cry. However, I'm also of the opinion that letting them cry is a last resort before you lose your mind/crash your car from lack of sleep. You can do gradual withdrawl to get him used to sleeping on his own gently. Start with bedtimes and when he's going to bed on his own happily you can work on nights. (Hopefully he'll start to roll over and go back to sleep on his own without you having to do anything.) Start with sitting on the end of his bed. His comprehension is just fine to understand if you explain that he's fine and you're near and he can go off to sleep. (You can sit next to the bed and rub his back, too.) Then stand at the door, then sit in the doorway or on the floor where he can't see you. You can also introduce a CD of lullabyes.

time4tea Mon 11-May-09 08:12:47

thanks for this. the strange thing is, bedtimes are fine. it is just when he wakes up in the middle of the night, its as if he panics. DH went in to reassure him last night a couple of times, DS2 went completely hysterical, ran out of bed crying. so I ended up sleeping with him again. I tried the sitting by the bed, quietly and boringly (as Tanya Byron recommends...)this led to more screaming and pulling me into the bed. once I was in, I tried to settle him to nearly sleep and then leave, he would immediately be awake (as if he was waiting for this ploy)

eventually about 4.30am he was able to be back completely asleep and I sneaked back to bed..

very strange. very tiring. thanks for the tips anyway... any further thoughts X

raggedtrouseredphilanthropist Mon 11-May-09 08:26:47

my ds is doing this too.
amazingly, I found stickers worked - he gets one for staying in his bed all night. took a few goes, but he is waking in his own bed most mornings now.
He still wakes screaming tho, just stays in his own bed... I also tend to tell him if he lies quietly, I will come back and check him in a little while.

time4tea Mon 11-May-09 20:20:17

good idea RTP - but how old is your DS? I didn't think stickers etc worked unless they were at least 3? not sure if DS2 would get it.

Elizabeth Pantley's book suggests a good-night book, with pictures of child, family, etc all sleeping and having a snuggle. this might work better for a pre-sticker chart child.

Thanks for bearing with me - its great to know I'm not alone. DH has been a bit enraged by the situation, I feel like I'm on my own in my views about it...

ches Tue 12-May-09 01:24:02

I'm not going to tell anyone that they have to let their child cry, because, frankly, that's ridiculous. However, what I have found is that if I stay with my DS, I can tell when he's crying in a melt-down kind of way and when it's just a way of voicing his frustration. When it's the latter, if I give him a minute or two, he will settle. Sometimes actively comforting him makes it worse. So if he starts to cry when I say "no cuddles, I'll sit here and rub your back," then usually he's okay with that, but if, like now, he's just got over strep and teething major molars, the suggestion of no cuddles triggers an "I'm going to be really and truly awake if you let me carry on like this" melt-down so I lie down with him again.

phdlife Tue 12-May-09 04:45:58

sounds as though your ds is having nightmares. no idea what to do about it, just an observation...

raggedtrouseredphilanthropist Wed 13-May-09 20:52:02

the stickers have helped him to stay in his bed all night (touch wood). now I am trying them for going to sleep without calling out for me constantly, and I am hoping that when he can do that he will be more apt to settle himself in the middle of the night.... hmm
I did 3 stickers then a prize (a 99p toy car each time). I thought that if they were fairly frequent, he would get the message..

kathryna Fri 19-Jun-09 07:58:18

hi all, new to this so bear with me. my 21 month old goes to be 6.30pm with no problem and has recenly wakes screaming hysterically at 4.30am, was 5.10am before that 6am. i have started taking her to my bed and often she settles but mostly wants to go down and play. am away next week so don't want to start controlled crying which worked at 3am as a baby. any suggestions would be grateful. she sleeps across lunchtime for 1.5 hours as she is shattered. i am at near breaking point!!!! and divorcing point.... will putting her in a single bed work? or waking her up for a midnight bottle? thanks

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