Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sleep Child!

Bedtime has become a nightmare in our house. It used to be so nice. Put Dan and Nicole down at the same time and they play for a little while and then they both fall asleep. Wahlah!

Now, it is a fight. As Jim Gaffigan puts it, it is a hostage situation in reverse. We try to do everything we can to just keep Cole in her room!

Let me tell you how last night went.

Nicole starts breaking down about everything a little after 8pm and says she is tired. Matt takes her upstairs, while she is still crying. Struggles her out of her clothes and into her pajamas. She is still in fits, and shuts the door because that is what we do when she won't stop crying. She immediately pees her pants.

Matt opens the door, takes her to the potty, puts her in the tub, washes her off, puts new pajamas on and puts her back in her room and shuts the door because she is STILL crying.

Nicole screams and cries and fake throws up. I go up and tell her to get back in bed (less than calmly... okay, yelling) and tell her if she throws up that I am going to spank her baby bum (empty threat, we don't actually spank them).

I close the door. Crying and coughing and screaming and gagging continue for an hour.

I change approaches. I go into her room, nice mommy, get her her crayons, and a coloring book and color with her and sing to her. The crying ceases for a few minutes and then, for no reason, she begins again, even though I am in there with her.

I change approaches again. I leave the door open, and say I will come and check on her if she is good and will stop crying and not come out.

She comes out three seconds after I leave the room.

I give up, let her sit in the chair in my room while I fold laundry and put both kids to bed at 9:30pm when they finally fall asleep at 10pm.

Almost every night is like this or similar to this. The crying, the screaming, the tantrums, the fake vomit, and ending in us locking her in her room, taking Dan out of the room because it all upsets him, and her eventually crashing and falling asleep... very late at night.

I don't know how to stop the cycle! I feel so frustrated and so angry at her for behaving like a demon child! It is like she is possessed. She screams and growls and coughs and throws herself on the ground all because it is time to go to bed.

You would think that she has never gone to bed before. That she is experiencing this nighttime thing for the first time. How could we be such awful parents and force her into doing something like laying in her warm and comfortable bed when she is tired and it is nighttime and forcing her to go to sleep? Worst parents ever.

And, she has decided that she is afraid of the dark. Ever since we got curtains in her room, she insists that she is afraid of the dark and that she must sleep with the light on, which we do not allow because Dan needs the dark to sleep. But, we DO allow two night lights, a projection mobile, a flashlight, two glow worms in her bed, and the hall light on. But, for some reason, all these lights do nothing to appease her supposed fear of the dark.

I am at my wits end. I hate bed time. I hate fighting with her. I'm out of ideas. I've tried ignoring her (but I usually cave with this because she does things like pee in her room or throw up), I have tried scolding her and taking privileges (which only fuel the tantrum), and I have tried rewarding her for good behavior with coming in and singing her songs or reading her books at bedtime.

I suspect that this is all to get attention because she does not want the day to end for some reason and when she is in our room with us, the tantrum ends. But, I don't want her to throw tantrums to get the things she wants and I certainly don't want Dan to think this is how you act. (He has already started crying and throwing himself on the ground when someone has something he wants.)

I don't know what to do.


Deanne said...

I'm so sorry. I hope your bedtime routine becomes much more pleasant in the near future. Sometimes it would be nice to get a glimpse into their little heads to see what's going on. Hang in there! You're a good mommy.

Jasmine said...

Does she have struggle to calm herself down/stop her tantrums at other times than bedtime?

It sounds like the first issue you need to tackle with her is figuring out how to help her calm herself down. I have some good recommendations on techniques that we have learned from Alexis' speech and behavior/socialization group. I used to call Alexis' tantrums epic, and don't get me wrong, she still has the occasional "epic" fit, but she has gained much better control of her impulsive emotions since we started implementing these techniques at home.

Once you see progress with how she handles her fits, then you can start working on the bedtime routine. We've discovered that consistency is key. We keep the same bedtime (7:30) each night (of course, there are always exceptions if we're out and about doing family stuff on the weekends, but during the week it's always 7:30 that we shoot for, or within half an hour), and somewhat of the same routine -- bath, jammies, brush teeth, stories, prayer, lights out, songs, goodnight. Both girls do so great with this. They don't always fall asleep right away, and Alexis will occasionally come get us if she needs something, but she knows that once the lights are out, she is supposed to stay in bed, and she is not allowed to come watch TV with us.

Jasmine said...

It stopped letting me type...rude.

Anywho, If you want to hear more about the behavioral management stuff, let me know. I hope she lets you have a relaxing, restful night soon!

Marie said...

Bec, you need to be consistent. Right now you are consistent with giving into Nicole when you can't take it any more and she knows that. If you say something, you have to stick to it to the bitter end. You'll only have to do that a few times and the child will learn. Same thing goes with meals. Be consistent and don't give in. Don't give her attention for bad behavior. If she pees or pukes, maybe she needs to sit in her mess for a little while so she can have some consequenses. It's hard, but it takes less time than fighting and then giving in forever.

Sarah said...

She obviously wants attention. Whether it's good attention (you reading to her and being nice) or bad attention (you or Matt yelling at her and cleaning her up and wrestling her into PJs) either way she is achieving her goal. I agree with Marie and Jasmine. A routine and not caving in could probably be a huge help. Kids thrive on consistency; they want boundaries, even if they don't seem like they's good for them.