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AIBU?

To have got rid of DS’s books as a consequence for messing around at bedtime?

112 replies

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:41

Since I had DD 6 months ago DH has been more involved in bedtimes, it used to be really straightforward: milk, bath, teeth and then five books. Sometimes DS would want one or two more but they were all short so I didn’t mind and he’d go to bed nicely.

Now it’s a pain. He insists he wants DH to read to him so I settle the baby while DH reads to DS, but DS just prats about, throws books on the floor, spends forever choosing a story and then doesn’t listen to it just charges around the room, etc. eventually I’m called in and he does settle but generally wants me to read the same books DH did, won’t always go to bed when told, although isn’t too bad.

When it is just me bedtimes are fine so I do think he’s playing is off against one another. I don’t think I dealt tonight well but I got so fed up with the silly behaviour I put all his books in the spare room, chose one book to read to him and said he could choose again when he started behaving. He got really upset and I don’t want to be using books as a sanction but I’m not sure what else to do! (DS is 3.)

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

293 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
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You are NOT being unreasonable
40%
AlwaysFreezing · 28/01/2024 19:43

I mean, I'd be taking dhs books away if he can't just do a decent bedtime routine with his own son tbh.

Definitelylivedin · 28/01/2024 19:44

I would never use books as a punishment.

Your problem is not your DS it is your DH. It is his job to say, this is the book we are reading tonight.

If DS is being naughty for your DH then DH needs to hand out the punishment.

Tempnamechng · 28/01/2024 19:45

Is he messing about to try to get attention?

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:47

He probably is @Tempnamechng but the whole point of the nice stories routine is he gets attention in a nice chilled way.

OP posts:
MinaM · 28/01/2024 19:47

He had too much choice in the beginning and he's maybe feeling left out since new baby. I wouldn't use books as a punishment, but then I'd have never have left him have 5 books to start with.

sprigatito · 28/01/2024 19:50

I don't think I'd be using punishments here at all actually. It's a sensitive time for your older child, with a new sibling and a new family dynamic, so he's probably expressing that through his attention seeking behaviour at bedtime. Your DH needs to up his game in terms of how he manages the behaviour in the moment - he needs to be firm but loving, give lots of extra physical affection and reassurance and keep things calm and consistent. I wouldn't take anything away from DS, but you and DH should have a long talk about bedtime strategies and make sure you are both doing the same things and giving the same messages.

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:50

No one minds him having five books, but we do mind the messing around, spending ages choosing, insisting I read the ones DH read and didn’t listen to … obviously something has to change but it’s hard to know what, especially as we want bedtimes to be nice and relaxed and not tearful pandemonium! He’s asleep now and has been crying which I feel horrible about Sad

OP posts:
Blobblobblob · 28/01/2024 19:50

Limit his options.

I used to put a few books on the floor, play the countdown music, if two were not selected by end of the thirty second music then no story.

Singleandproud · 28/01/2024 19:51

You removed them because he was likely to damage them that's fine.

He has had a huge change though, DH needs to learn to parent without running to you but you also need to keep in mind the DS is still tiny and having a new sibling a huge change in particularly in your levels of attention as you now (understandably) need to split it between them. How much 1:1 with you is he getting from you without DD around? Perhaps his acting up and playing you off against one another is him needing more attention not less.

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:51

What would you recommend @sprigatito ? It’s hard knowing what the best thing to do is.

OP posts:
OpalOrchid · 28/01/2024 19:51

Does your DH usually mess about with him? I mean in a playful way? Maybe your DS associates your DH more with having fun than chilling with a story?

ssd · 28/01/2024 19:51

Give him a big cuddle when he wakes up

NuffSaidSam · 28/01/2024 19:55

I think the punishment fit the crime tbh.

Tomorrow I'd try getting him to choose his five books earlier, maybe before he has his milk or before the bath. Or perhaps while he's in the bath he can tell you which five books he wants. One of you then read the five books and that's it. Don't both get involved, don't read them again if he didn't listen the first time, don't pick anymore. Take all of the options away so he knows exactly what's going to happen and then stick to it religiously.

CremeEggThief · 28/01/2024 19:57

Getting rid of books is probably the silliest punishment for a child I have ever heard of.

Dearover · 28/01/2024 19:57

He has too much choice. If he is allowed to have 5 books, offer him the chance to pick 5 from 6 or 7. He is playing you off against each other to get your attention & it's working.

Rein it back in though before he gets much older of you will be reading to him until midnight. Try something completely different as he gers a little older, such a reading him one or two chapters from classics like Winnie the Pooh or Paddington.

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:57

I’m definitely bad cop @OpalOrchid ! We probably do need to be firmer, it’s just rooted in not wanting him upset at bedtime.

OP posts:
Hankunamatata · 28/01/2024 19:58

I'd get 10 books, show ds and tell ds to pick 5. Or use a visual timer/sandtimer and say he has 5 mins to choose from his selection.

Then explain at a time before bed that no stories unless he is in bed and lying down. If he gets out daddy stops reading and he gets a warning if he gets out again then no more stories, kiss and cuddle and dh leaves. Night need a a few goes but ds will realise he needs to stay in bed

CaptainMyCaptain · 28/01/2024 19:58

Definitelylivedin · 28/01/2024 19:44

I would never use books as a punishment.

Your problem is not your DS it is your DH. It is his job to say, this is the book we are reading tonight.

If DS is being naughty for your DH then DH needs to hand out the punishment.

This. Also get used to reading the same book over and over and over again. Your child will memorise it so you daren't change a word. It's an important step in Early reading.

WolvesDiscoandBoogaloo · 28/01/2024 19:59

I'd be wary of punishing his behaviour too badly because it sounds pretty normal for a three year old. In my experience, bedtime is prime time for them to grub for attention however they can get it. Especially with a new baby to compete with.

I dealt with it by setting timers for how long I would read/chat about bollocks for. I'd agree in advance with DS that he'd get twenty minutes, say, then when the timer went off, I'd repeat that it was what we agreed. Once the time was up, I would just repeat over and over that it was bedtime now and be as detached as possible so that I wasn't giving attention to dramatics.

Toomuchgoingon79 · 28/01/2024 19:59

He's three, does he even have any concept of what five means?

CaptainMyCaptain · 28/01/2024 20:00

NuffSaidSam · 28/01/2024 19:55

I think the punishment fit the crime tbh.

Tomorrow I'd try getting him to choose his five books earlier, maybe before he has his milk or before the bath. Or perhaps while he's in the bath he can tell you which five books he wants. One of you then read the five books and that's it. Don't both get involved, don't read them again if he didn't listen the first time, don't pick anymore. Take all of the options away so he knows exactly what's going to happen and then stick to it religiously.

Bad advice if you want your child to love books and reading.

Thinkbiglittleone · 28/01/2024 20:00

You and your DH need to be on the same page, you shouldn't have to go in to rescue bedtime, your DH needs to learn how to handle it.

Is your DS asking for daddy to do bedtime as he knows he can get away with murder Blush. Daddy needs to step up.

Lots of praise for good choices, star chart in his bedroom, and you don't go in and take over.

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 20:01

@Toomuchgoingon79 - I often think DS seems far less sophisticated than MN children but yes of course he does!

@WolvesDiscoandBoogaloo i know but it has got really silly lately. I don’t really mind an extra story or something but running round throwing books - no.

@CaptainMyCaptain i know thanks but I’m not sure how that’s relating to what I’m asking?sorry if that sounds abrupt, it isn’t meant to.

OP posts:
sprigatito · 28/01/2024 20:01

Italianicecream · 28/01/2024 19:51

What would you recommend @sprigatito ? It’s hard knowing what the best thing to do is.

It's really hard without knowing your child, but I would sit down with DH and work out a step-by-step bedtime routine designed to take any uncertainty and anxiety out of the situation - so make sure DS knows beforehand who is doing bedtime, and the other parent stays well out of it. If he's having five books, get him to line them up in order before starting so the progression is visible. Talk to DS when it isn't bedtime and he isn't stressed, find out whether there's anything else that would help him settle, like a warm drink or a nightlight (mine had a planetarium projector) that only gets switched on once he's snuggled down and calm.

Those are just a few things that worked for us, but the most important bit is that you and DH draw up a plan - you can even come up with a few set phrases - so DH feels confident going into bedtime and DS feels like DH is in charge and he is secure.

MerryMarigold · 28/01/2024 20:02

6 months isn't a new baby.

You need to agree a strategy. I don't think it was wrong to remove the books. If anything it makes then seem more 'treaty' and precious. Books need to be treated with respect. Daddy and mummy's time needs to be respected too. You definitely need DH to be firmer because this will get worse not better.

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