Please tell me there are gentle ways to teach a toddler to stop being silly at sleep time?????? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 05-29-2012, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 2 1/2 year old is such a stinker at bedtime!  I don't want to punish him to get him to stop being a monkey but I seriously can't think of any gentle way to stop being silly and get the message that sleeping time means laying nicely and trying to fall asleep.  And I honestly think it would take a pretty harsh punishment to get the message through to him, which I don't want to do.  But I cannot think of any gentle ways to teach him and it is really wearing on my patience!  And on top of it, I am having another baby next month and do not know what I will possibly do then!

 

Ok, so we follow the same routine each night- it never changes.  Pajamas, brush teeth, I read to his older brother, while he (B) looks at books.  Then I read B his book.  We turn off the light, light a candle, sing a song, say a prayer, then each boy gets a turn to blow out the candle.  They get into bed and I tuck each one in.  The older one is almost 6 and great at lying there, trying to fall asleep.  But when the routine is done, B WILL NOT LIE STILL and try to fall asleep!  It's not even like I am trying to leave the room and expecting him to do it on his own.  I am willing to stay and rub his back, sing to him if he wants, etc.  But he crawls around on his bed, laughs, is just plain silly.  And it's not that he is not tired because if I can get him to finally lie still, then he wants me to rub his back and sing, which I do and he is fast asleep within 5 minutes TOPS!  It's just getting him to lie still and let me rub his back that is getting harder and harder.

 

At night time, when he is silly, I tell him I am not staying if he will not lie nicely.  So when he gets silly, I leave.  He will want me to come back and say, "I'll stop, I'll stop".  So I come back, he lies still, and I sing him to sleep.  He very quickly falls asleep.

 

But bedtime is a lot harder because I can't leave.  If I do, then he will just start bugging his brother and he could care less that I have left.  So I started putting B in my bed when he acts up and leaving him there alone until he is finally willing to lie nicely in his bed.  But this has stopped working.  Know he will be silly and say, "I'm being silly- go put me in your bed now" and he won't care if I put him there or stop being silly.  Lately I feel like maybe only a punishment for his silliness will get through to him.  I sometimes feel like spanking him to get the point across.  Not that I will because I DO NOT believe in spanking but seriously, I am running out of ideas.  Putting him in my room was working so well I thought I had the answer until he stopped caring that if I do that.  Sigh!

 

Please help me out here!!!!!  If he didn't fall asleep so darn fast when the sillies are finally over with, I would think that perhaps he is just not tired and needed to stop napping.  But the fact that he falls asleep so fast when he is finally willing to stop being silly makes me think he is in fact tired at nap/bedtime.  And he is a mess when he doesn't nap. 

 

How can I gently teach him to lie nicely in bed, relax, and go to sleep!  I am not going to be able to keep fighting him each night when I have a newborn to take care of!!!

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#2 of 9 Old 05-30-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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I talk quietly so that he has to strain to hear me, I make my movements very slow.  I pretend to sleep.  I wake him up earlier in the morning to avoid late nights.  Quiet time before bed, no toys, TV off.  These things work for me, but part of it is just a phase of several weeks that they all go through.  

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#3 of 9 Old 05-30-2012, 09:49 AM
 
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Maybe make that part of the routine? Pj's, read a book, be silly for 5 minutes then quiet.

 

My DD (6) is similar to this. I found if I allowed her to get the silly out, joke, make funny noises, tickle... for a few extra minutes, she was more willing to quiet down when it was quiet time.

 

Just a thought, I am not sure it would work for every kid.
 

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#4 of 9 Old 05-30-2012, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was thinking about maybe letting him be silly for a few minutes but I still worry about if he would calm down at the end of the silly time.  I guess it wouldn't hurt to try.

 

I really get the feeling that he is just testing.  Last night, dh took over and brought him to our bed and stayed with him there, but ignored him and pretended to sleep.  Ds just lied quietly next to him and fell asleep within 10 minutes.  BUT, when I try to lie with him and ignore him like that, he climbs on me, grabs my face, kicks me, etc.  And if I ask him to stop, he laughs at me.  He really thinks it is a game, no matter what I do or say to him.  He takes dh a lot more seriously.  The problem is that often dh is not home at bedtime.

 

The other thought is perhaps I need to get their bedroom pitch black like it was in the winter.  It is dark, but not complete darkness.  He was never silly like this when in the winter when their room was so dark and he could hardly even see me when I was lying next to him.
 

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#5 of 9 Old 05-30-2012, 12:20 PM
 
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My daughter was just like this.  As long as she could get out of bed, mess around, be silly, she would do so.  What worked for us was going through the usual bedtime routine then leaving her in room by herself with the door shut (we used a kiddy door-knob cover that stopped her being able to open the door). She could play in her room if she wanted, but without us around to give her attention, this didn't last long and she'd just go down to sleep pretty quickly.  Any time she can get out of her room though, she goes right back to the silly behaviour, so in our case she has to be shut in the room.  If you don't feel comfortable (or your son doesn't) with the door closed, you could try a safety gate over the door but with the door open, though he may be able to open a safety gate by now! 

 

Another idea might be to put him down to bed then sit outside his door, when he comes out carry him back to his bed, give him a kiss and leave him with minimal contact/talking.  Repeat this every time he comes out.  I would imagine that it would take about a zillion goes the first time or two, but the game would wear thin for him after a while.  Maybe follow up with a reward of some kind in the morning when he starts to improve so he sees the transfer of attention from negative and linked to his silly behaviour to positive and linked to his improving behaviour.   

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#6 of 9 Old 05-30-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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Hi ...Settling a toddler for sleep is so significantly different to an infant. They can talk back for one !! We need to guide and support them gently to sleep and create a process that the toddler can positively participate in .....have you seen the clips specifically on toddlers at www.safesleepspace.com.au ?? Hope this helps :)

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#7 of 9 Old 05-31-2012, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by DaisyMay View Post

Another idea might be to put him down to bed then sit outside his door, when he comes out carry him back to his bed, give him a kiss and leave him with minimal contact/talking.  Repeat this every time he comes out.  I would imagine that it would take about a zillion goes the first time or two, but the game would wear thin for him after a while.  Maybe follow up with a reward of some kind in the morning when he starts to improve so he sees the transfer of attention from negative and linked to his silly behaviour to positive and linked to his improving behaviour.   

 

Thank you for this!  I had such a break through moment with him tonight!  I realized how much he enjoys the reactions he gets from me.  The bigger the reaction, the more he laughs and finds it fun.  He was doing this during the day and I realized then that it isn't just a bedtime thing- he is going though some testing phase, or something.

 

So at bedtime, I stopped reacting.  I prepared myself for bedtime, after lights were out, to take an hour.  Often I feel invested in getting him to sleep as soon as possible and it is hard to have patience when it takes while.  So mentally preparing myself helped a lot.  I stayed beside his bed and he would get out, I put him back.  Again and again.  I wasn't talking or engaging him, just putting him back with as little attention as possible.  But I soon realized I couldn't keep it up.  It was still too much of a game for him, so I could tell it would take a looooong time to settle him that way.  I couldn't do it- not at almost 39 weeks pregnant!  So I told him if he didn't want to stay in bed he could sleep on the floor.  I put him on the floor (no pillow/blanket- I didn't want him to get too comfy lol!)  Then I could sit beside him and easily lie him down again and again.  This worked way better!  Eventually his sleepiness started to win him over.  He wanted to cuddle like he does when he is ready to fall asleep.  I told him not when he is on the floor.  I let him use my leg as a pillow as a compromise.  When he was really settled and being still, I asked him if he was ready to go back into his bed.  He said "no", which surprised me!  He tried a few more times to be silly/get up and I continued to calmly lie him down.  And then he gave up, got as comfy as he could, and went to sleep on the floor! 

 

I am so happy!  Especially happy that I realized what I needed to do before baby comes!  I may only have a week left to work on this and I think I can manage that.  I was engaging in power struggles and giving him a reason to keep acting silly.  Without the reaction from me, like you said DaisyMay, the game wears thin.  So thank you so much for your advice!

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#8 of 9 Old 06-01-2012, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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He woke up this morning and I said, "Did you fall asleep on the floor last night?"  And he happily said, "Yes!!!"  I asked, "Did you falling asleep on the floor?"  He said, "Yes!"  And then he showed me, probably 5 times, how he looked when he slept on the floor.  He was pretty happy about the whole thing!  lol!  I don't mind- it was way easier to keep him on the floor then put him back in bed over and over!
 

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#9 of 9 Old 06-02-2012, 02:05 AM
 
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Brilliant!  Glad you've had a breakthrough!  My son also went through a phase of dragging his covers off his bed and sleeping on the floor - eventually we just put a small futon mattress on the floor and let him get on with it! 

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