Bedtime help

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by Katheros, May 4, 2014.

  1. Katheros

    Katheros Well-Known Member

    My 2 1/2 year old has always been a terrible sleeper.  Just always.   I am having an especially hard time with getting him to go to bed at night.  Obviously this has been going on for awhile (forever, in fact) but with an infant now in the house too I am just losing my patience every single night.  On major hurdle that I have to contend with is my husband.  He spoils Joshua, does whatever he wants, he goes in there and Joshua stalls and stalls and stalls.  He screams, my husband goes in and does whatever he wants (changes the sound machine, gets him a book, etc.).  I have asked him, told him, yelled at him too, to STOP DOING THIS but I have gotten no where.  So of course my husband does these things, and because of work is gone all the time so I'm stuck with the screaming child while he's gone.  Not really helping our relationship either when I want to strangle him every single night.  The husband, not the child.
    There's got to be some advice or tricks or something.  I put him to bed and as soon as I close the door he gets out of bed, screaming, and either stands at the door while screaming or pounds on the door while screaming.  I put him back to bed (no interaction other than "time for bed/go to bed"), rinse and repeat.  This goes on for at least an hour, usually close to 2. Every single night.  And sometime during all this the baby wakes up and wants to be fed.  I usually end up nursing her while he's screaming in the next room.  I remember reading that nursing is supposed to release endorphins that make you happy but I find this not to be true.
    I've tried putting him to bed earlier, later, doesn't work.  Naps are iffy, sometimes he'll take them and sometimes he won't.  If he fights me and screams for too long I just give up, the stress isn't worth it.   Seriously, why is screaming more appealing than going to sleep?  I'd love to go to bed at 7:30.  I would love to take a nap every day.
    This may be more ranting than asking for help.  But I'll take any suggestions.
  2. mom2gc

    mom2gc Well-Known Member

    [SIZE=medium]I think the most important thing is to get your husband on the same page. You both need to stick to the same routine, especially as there a tiny baby and you need all the sleep that you can get. [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]My kids have never been the best sleepers either, but a routine has helped. Maybe try and explain to your son during the day what the new routine will be at bedtime.  I will read 2 stories, sing a song  etc. and then it is lights out. You need to stay in your bed as it is time to sleep.    If you stay in bed I will leave the door open, but if you get out of bed and come out, I will have to close the door. Ask him during the day to tell you what will happen at bedtime.. If he gets out of bed after lights out, close the door.  As long as he is not able to hurt himself in there, ignore him.  This is going to be harder for you than for him. They say it takes 3 days to create a habit and 7 days to break it, but it will be worth your while in the end. [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=medium]Good luck.[/SIZE]
  3. dtomecko

    dtomecko Well-Known Member

    I get the terrible sleeper thing.  Some kids are just like that.  And in the end I really think they just outgrow it.  I'd like to say it was something I did that changed things, but really I think things changed in spite of what I tried!  And it's so hard for someone else to relate or understand where you're coming from unless they've had a child like this.  My son was like this.  Part of it was behavior - needing to be in control, not being able to accept that he wasn't on the same level as us, and maybe a little anxiety.  The suggestions our pediatrician offered were to try melatonin and to try waking him before he typically woke up during the night.  To jump start his sleep cycle. I was too chicken to try those things. But your issue may not be an all night thing like ours was, and strictly a bedtime issue.  I was very strict about it, and I think that was the only way with him.  But it still took forever for it to sink in.  My son was a bad sleeper on and off from about 8 mos until 3.5.  There were so many phases to it, but I'll try to relate to the phase you're in.  I definitely think your husband has to be on the same page as you.  He is undoing any progress you may be making on your own.  And your son definitely understands this.  If your husband can't be strict with it, I'd tell him to give you a month to do things your way.  And he needs to stay out of the room entirely if he doesn't feel he can enforce what you're trying to do to change his behavior.  At this point I don't think it's about routines or bed times or hours of sleep, it's strictly behavior he has to unlearn.
    When my kids were 2 yrs 3 mos we moved them to toddler beds, still in the same room.  It became clear that they couldn't be in the same room after giving it a month or two.  So we split them up and gave them their own rooms.  We put my son back in his crib and he started angrily flinging himself out of it when we wouldn't stay with him and follow his demands.  So we got a crib tent.  It was still some loud and horrendous nights, but we stuck with it.  He quickly got over it and liked the security of the crib tent.  We tried about 6 mos later to put him back in a bed.  It went much better this time.  But we still had some bad phases of night waking.  And he'd be so crabby and demanding at 3 am, a totally different child. We started warning him that I would have to close his door if he was going to keep getting out of bed and having his tantrums.  I always followed through even though I knew it meant it would be unleashing the devil child.  He'd pound his door and scream his head off for an hour or two in the middle of the night.  I hated dealing with it at that hour, I was so anxious he would wake the rest of the house up.  But I didn't give in because I knew that meant it was a complete waste and we'd be further off track if I did.  So I'd have to wait the hour or two for him to calm down on the other side of his door before I'd go back and tuck him in again.  I know he understood it, but there was just that part about his personality that he couldn't control.  I don't know if being strict helped at all.  I do know that giving in to him would have had us wrapped around his finger where he wanted us.  Some kids can go with the flow and understand that if they sleep in your bed a night or two it doesn't mean it's a new habit that happens every night.  Or if you read them an extra story or let them stay up a little later, that it's not an every night thing.  But he was not wired that way.  He needed that strict routine.  And if I threw a threat out there, I absolutely had to follow through.  In the end I really think it was just his reasoning that needed to catch up to his emotion.  I will say by age 4 things were finally better. He is now 6 and still has issues falling asleep.  He reads in bed now and that helps.  Now he can communicate what he's feeling and I see some general anxiety in him when it comes to being alone and going to bed.  Sometimes he swears he lays there all night with his eyes open and that he just doesn't know how to sleep. It's so much easier now that we can talk about it.  But it's still hard for him.  Hopefully your child is not wired the same way and you can get this under control a lot faster.  It does sound like a behavior thing that your husband has created.
  4. gina_leigh

    gina_leigh Well-Known Member

    I'd be extremely pissed at your DH. Really, his behavior is not helping and probably making it so much worse. It's not fair that his actions are making life so stressful for you. Especially if he's gone a lot of the time. 
    I hope you are able to get him to understand that soon. I don't think it will get better until you are both on the same page and he's not undermining the progress you do make. 
  5. weegus

    weegus Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry you are having bedtime troubles... especially with a new baby!!  I had terrible bed time chaos with the twins.  I tried all kinds of things until I found what worked for them (and me).  We have something called "sleep treats," which are treats they get in the morning if they "stay in bed, be dry (if potty training), and be quiet."  I reinforced this idea two or three times at bedtime.  They get one warning before their treat is taken away.  Also, I have found that they need my presence to wind down.  I lay quietly with each boy for 5-10 minutes after lights out and scratch their back (at nap time too back when they napped).  I really dragged my feet on doing this but I finally realized that the 20 minutes of extra wind down time with them was MUCH better than the 1+ hour or so of yelling and screaming.  We do the same routine with their younger brother and he has done awesome with it.  He is usually dead asleep in less than 10 minutes!    That little switch up made a world of difference for us... maybe it could help you, too!!
    Like others have said, you and DH have to be on board with the same plan... but I think you know that!  I was the HBIC of sleep training in our house and my husband took over with my routine when they were good and trained!  Now, my DH does bedtime for the twins (who still do need the extra 5-10 minutes of cuddle time) and I take the younger two. 
    I hope you find something to make your evenings a little more enjoyable!!  That age is so tough!  Good luck!!
  6. Katheros

    Katheros Well-Known Member

    The PITA of it is my husband DOES understand, he DOES agree with me, he knows he's creating more of a problem (and more stress) for me.  I make it very clear when he's gone how much Josh is screaming.  Usually we use Skype in the evening so he's well aware of the problem.   So he goes in with an "I won't give in" attitude and that little voice says "dada" with the Puss in Boots big sad eyes routine and my husband just melts into a puddle of goo.   This last week I just kept telling him to let me handle bed time, because I knew he was leaving again, but he would go in when I was nursing or bathing the baby.   
    We do have a bedtime routine and have had the same one since he was probably 6ish months old. 
    Josh does still get up most nights, usually just once.  I go in and he goes right back to bed, I cover him up and he's fine.  He does sleep all the way through sometimes so I know he CAN I just don't know why he doesn't.
  7. sharongl

    sharongl Well-Known Member

    At that age, we would actually put a bungie cord on the boys door to keep it closed, so they couldn't get out.  I would disconnect it when we went to bed, so it was just while we were awake for the initial going to sleep.  A few times one would sleep on the floor next to the door, because he would exhaust himself trying to get out.  After about a week or two, we didn't need to do it, as they realized that bedtime meant bedtime.
  8. w101ttd

    w101ttd Well-Known Member

    Man I don't know how u can handle 2 kids and 1 infant!!?? You are a super woman!

    Personally, I think u have 3 main problems. First, husband has to be on the same page. Second, strict bedtime rules no exception. Third, strict disciplines, punishment no exception.

    Even since they were very little, my kids already knew bedtime was very strict period! Now after night bath, they dress themselves and get on their beds and stay in until fall asleep. We don't do a thing. Their door is always open for air exchange purpose!

    Big hugs! And good luck! :)
  9. daisies

    daisies Well-Known Member

    I have a DH like this, but he never has the chance to do night time alone
    and my DD sounds like your son.
    we tried the putting back to bed thing with her. 
    day 1 - 1 hour, 49 times back in the bed.  no talking, no eye contact.  for her it was a game. she climbed out ran to me and held up her arms (and yes she was exhausted.. that is when her adrenaline kicks in!). 
    day 2 - 30 minutes, 10 times back in the bed.. i thought, hooray! 
    day 3 - 1 hour, 63 times back in the bed. she had even more fun this night than the first.
    NEW PLAN: I said good night and locked the door
    day 1 - screaming for 30 minutes.  then silence and sleeping
    day 2 - screaming 20 minutes
    day 3 - screaming 5 minutes.
    she still screams almost daily but it usually ends before i get down the hall.  we are 3 weeks in and nearly every night she tries the door to see if it is locked.
    DS is in the same room, he says 'nite, nite. bye?'  when i say 'yes, i am going' he gives me a kiss - i think he is glad i leave because he can sleep through her noise but not thought me moving around.  DS gets in bed and doesn't get out.. even with all the shenanigans.  it really is about each kids personality.
    **twice i found her on the floor when i check on them.  every other night she has gotten back in her bed.
    my thoughts -
    problem 1 - DH (d..n husband) needs to get on the same page NOW.  do whatever it takes to get him there.  for my DH, it would require calling him and asking him to stay on the phone and support you through the drama.. every single night! walk him through exactly how you are feeling at every second.  do not blame him but say we have to fix this! I can't keep doing this. please stay on the phone with me and thank him for staying with you when it is over.  (if you can't reach him can you tape it? or leave a voice message, or multiple voice messages at accelerating stress levels? 
    What do you have to loose it is already stressing your marriage?
    problem 2 - stubborn, smart, kid who doesn't want to stay in the bed.  he is not in pain, he is testing the limits of his world and his own control..  a good thing for every 2 year old to do but man is it rough on mom! 
    probably the more tired he gets the harder he is to deal with and the longer he fights to stay up and the more likely that he wakes up at night. (?)
    you might try -
    reversing the door knob, (hang the 'key' on a high tac inside the door so you don't get locked in!),
    first give a warning, second lock the door.
    don't sit by the door, it is too painful.  do something to distract yourself, call a supportive friend or DH. do not open the door.  plan for an hour of screaming.
    this sounds tough but in the long run sleep is better for everyone, you, you and your husbands relationship, your baby and your son who is probably getting harder to live with by the day (even when we don't' know it we need sleep and are miserable without it)
    you might also write and post a sleep rule chart.. even though they can't read, my kids really respect the written word right now (about the same age,) so that might make a big impression!
    good luck.  you have a lot on your plate right now! nothing rips up a mom's heart more than listening to a crying child... remember, it is probably harder for you than for him!  you can do this!
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