Bedtime frustrations with 4.5 yo - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 04-04-2011, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope this is the right place to post this?

 

I would LOVE any suggestions for how to get my 4.5 yo DD to stay in bed and go to sleep at bed time.  Basically we do the bedtime routine (jammies, pee, toothbrushing, story with mom or dad), then we tuck her in, kisses, hugs, lights out.  One of us will lay with her for about 5 minutes in her bed, then we leave, close the door, and we expect her to stay in her room and go to sleep.

 

Well she has developed a habit of leaving her room and wandering around.  She comes to see me in the kitchen for any number of "reasons" (Mom, I'm not tired, I don't want to sleep (keep in mind she usually yawns through her bedtime story), I need to find Puppy (stuffed animal), I need to tell you about ... (it's never anything urgent)).  Sometimes she will just wander in to the living room (where I can't see her from the kitchen) and lay on the couch (playing, not sleeping), or sit on the floor and play with the cat, or start playing in the toyroom.  Sometimes she will play in her bedroom (with the lights out).  Everything except go to sleep.

 

We try and try to coax her back into her room and tell her it's bedtime, time to sleep, end of story.  She wants to chit chat or ask questions and I tell her that now is not the time for that.  I tell her that if she doesn't want to sleep yet, she needs to at least lay in bed quietly.  

 

It's not working, as she still just continues to come out of her room, usually 3-4 times a night, taking up maybe an hour of time for the whole process.

 

I know that writing a post like this in frustration is maybe not the best idea.  DH and I really don't know what to do here.  I want to solve the problem and help her learn that bedtime is bedtime.  But I also feel that she can't just wander as she pleases after we have tucked her in for the night - there has to be some consequences for that but we can't figure out what they should be?

 

Any suggestions??

 

 


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#2 of 13 Old 04-04-2011, 10:54 PM
 
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We can not make a child fall asleep but we can expect a child to stay in their room.  My almost 5 yr old and 2.5 old share a room. They can do whatever they want but they have to stay in their room.  They can play, read, sing, fight,laugh or sleep.  They eventually fall asleep.  I am a fan of the supernanny technique.  Do your routine, tell her goodnight. When she comes out of her room, take her back to her room, give her a kiss and LEAVE THE ROOM.  The next time (and after) take her back to her room, and WALK AWAY.  Continue.  Ignore the tears and  crying that she will use to suck you in. 

 

You might want to talk to her about the new routine before it's bedtime.  Talk to her about how her body needs sleep to grow and learn. Let her know that you think she can make the choice of when to go to sleep but that you as a parent decides when she goes to her room.  A happy, well rested mom and dad is much more fun than a tired cranky parent.  A happy mom and dad that gets boring house work finished while she is sleeping can do fun things like going for a walk or make a special dinner.  A cranky tired parent doesn't have that energy!!  

 

Other things I have heard are giving her 3 tickets.  Each time she comes out of her room, she uses a ticket.  When she runs out, she has to stay in her room.  If she has tickets left over when she wakes up, maybe she gets to trade them in for something.  

 

I just noticed our kids are around the same age.  GL with the next one.  Both mine were water out of the hospital births!!


Sue, mama to Spitfire (4/06) energy.gif, a Firecracker (9/08) blahblah.gif, and Chill baby (3/12)namaste.gif

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#3 of 13 Old 04-05-2011, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for  your suggestions mama!  The ticket system, that is interesting - have to think on that one.  Any suggestions on what she could trade the tickets in for in the morning?

 

I also saw the Supernanny "back to bed" technique and while I'm not a fan of Supernanny in general, I did try this with DD.  I would still end up putting her back in bed 3-4 times every evening.  And I was walking her straight back to her room, no words from me other than "It's bedtime, goodnight". 

 

I will try explaining the tired mommy/energetic mommy thing - I do like how you put it. 


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#4 of 13 Old 04-05-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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We try and try to coax her back into her room and tell her it's bedtime, time to sleep, end of story.

It sounds to me like you're not being firm enough ('coax' and it doesn't sound like there are any consequences). Does she know it's a rule that she has to stay in her room? With DS, it's a rule and if he breaks the rule it's unacceptable behavior that has consequences like any other unacceptable behavior. He loses privileges-.

Now if it's routed in anxiety (which it sometimes is for him) then we deal with it differently. We tell him we'll check back every 10 minutes but if he leaves the room or calls for us before the end of 10 minutes then the 10 minute 'clock' (an imaginary clock) starts again. So basically if he came out after 9 minutes he'd have to wait another 10... total 19 minutes.

It probably sounds so draconian but he's a kid who NEEDS firm rules. He really likes things structured. Also it's good for me b/c I absolutely HATE my evenings being disrupted by overtired children who need to sleep. Knowing that the next day they'll be cranky etc just drives me nutso. So the 'rules' help me, too. It works out well.


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#5 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 11:06 AM
 
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Maybe by her coming out repeatedly she is trying in her best way to tell you that she is not ready for sleep, or not ready to go to sleep by her self. Perhaps she doesn't feel safe going to sleep on her own (for some kids going to sleep is an extremely scary transition). I still lay with my 7 yr old and my 5 yr old to help them go to sleep at night. It requires more work on my part, but the transition is generally tear free and peaceful, they go to sleep being snuggled by mom and feeling safe. We have some of our best conversations at night when they are sleepy but not yet ready for sleep. 

 

I am going to be the voice of dissent here, and say that I don't think we as parents we get to choose when we are done parenting for the day. I chose to be a parent, and as far as I know, I signed on for a 24/7 committment. I don't get to just dictate that I am done being a parent at 8 and my child MUSt stay in their room at that point. 

 

But that's just me, and for me, the lesson was learned through months of bedtime struggles with my 4 and a half yr old at the time. I was "done" and she paid the price. I tried to get her to stay in her room and force her to go to sleep and ended up feeling bad about the way each day would end, with power struggles and frustration for everyone. I was trying to get her to sleep before she was tired, b/c I "needed' the break. I really regret that time now, and am so glad we have found a more peaceful solution.

 

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#6 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 11:30 AM
 
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.I am going to be the voice of dissent here, and say that I don't think we as parents we get to choose when we are done parenting for the day. I chose to be a parent, and as far as I know, I signed on for a 24/7 committment. I don't get to just dictate that I am done being a parent at 8 and my child MUSt stay in their room at that point


This is true, of course but kind of ignores 2 big points for me anyway.
1 - EVERYONE in the house has needs. To be calm and well behaved my kids need 12 hours sleep. To feel balanced I need a couple of hours to myself.
2 - Some kids (ie - mine) can't fall asleep easily with people after a certain age.

If I lay with my kids to sleep it would take way too long. It would eat into my night and their sleeping time. That doesn't mean I 'don't want to be a parent' after a certain hour eyesroll.gif. It means I want to be the best parent I can be to the best behaved children I can have. Not to mention the best wife and best friend and all those other functions that require time.

DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#7 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 11:31 AM
 
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I have the philosophy that kids will not stay in their room if they believe that whatever is going on out in the living room is more interesting than sleep.

 

so I say to Benjamin, you can stay up if you want to, but there is no snacks, no TV, no Computer time, and no one to talk to because Daddy and Mommy are busy doing stuff for work, or having Mommy and Daddy time, so if you want to stay up, you can, but it won't be much fun.

 

He did it once for about two hours just to show he could.  The nexst day he was so exhausted he got home from school at 4pm and went straight to bed.  ever since he has been almost entirely reasonable about bed time.  He also goes to bed much more peacefully when he has had a high protein breakfast.  I can't imagine why eating eggs for breakfast instead of toast and jam should make a difference in behavior more than 12 hours later, but I read it here once on this board and it has worked a TREAT! 

 

I think removing the struggle will help you a lot.  Sometimes, especially at that age when they are establishing their independence,  they will will themselves to stay awake just because you said it's time to sleep.

 

It's also important to fill them up with affection at this age.  Sometimes if I had a tickle fest or DH had a wrestling match with DS before bed he was much happier to settle down post routine and smile about it.  We always do two stories and two songs, but sometimes more if he has had a super hard or emotional day (maybe less if WE have had a hard day, but as long as it isn't too often, he understands).

 

 


Rebekah - mom to Ben 03/05 and Emily 01/10, a peace educator, and a veg*n and wife to Jamie.
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#8 of 13 Old 04-08-2011, 05:21 PM
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 We actually turn off all the lights like we're all going to bed as part of my 5 year olds bedtime, then we brush teeth, before going to bed. If we want to still be in the living room or kitchen we can always turn stuff back on. It's just easier if DD knows nothing interesting is still going on.  When we were still co-sleeping I'd just go to bed with her and then get back up if I wanted to. I don't know how much difference it makes, but using her own bed and room was DD's idea right after turning 4. And she really hasn't had any issues as long as we don't try putting her to bed beofre she's been up 13.5 to 14 hours. She sleeps 10 and then is up 14.

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#9 of 13 Old 04-09-2011, 04:10 AM
 
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What happens if one of you just sit in the bedroom with her?  Maybe she is just looking for company or feels that she didn't get enough time with mom or dad during the day.  You could also try telling her that you will check on her every 5 mins or so until she falls asleep.  You could even talk to her about what would make a more smooth transition to sleeping for her.


Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS

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#10 of 13 Old 04-09-2011, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, there's some really great tips posted here!  Thanks everyone!

 

I promise you I am a 24/7 parent (our DS has only just stopped waking at night in the last month or two - we do NOT do sleep training or CIO in any form).  But it's about house rules, and learning the importance of sleep and routines, and learning the responsibility of going to bed at a reasonable time because we have to wake up at a certain time tomorrow to go to preschool.

 

Anyway, things have been a bit better since I posted, although I haven't really changed anything.  (Maybe the Universe saw my post? winky.gif)  But we did seem to discover that it sometimes makes her feel better to have the bedroom door open, rather than closed.  I will keep it open if she will stay in bed.  (We normally close all the bedroom doors since we live in a bungalow, and the floor plan is such that we have to pass by both kids bedrooms to go anywhere in the house.  So rather than disrupt them with us walking back and forth, we close the room doors.)  Anyway, maybe that tip will help someone else.


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#11 of 13 Old 04-10-2011, 09:21 PM
 
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Just to be clear, I was not accusing the OP in any way of not being  a 24/7 parent or criticizing you, just commenting moreso on the pervasive societal expectation that most people tend to have that parents must have evenings to themselves and children must be in bed by a certain time.

 

Just so no one's feelings are hurt, which was never my intention :)

 

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#12 of 13 Old 04-11-2011, 02:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canadiangranola View Post

Just to be clear, I was not accusing the OP in any way of not being  a 24/7 parent or criticizing you, just commenting moreso on the pervasive societal expectation that most people tend to have that parents must have evenings to themselves and children must be in bed by a certain time.

 

Just so no one's feelings are hurt, which was never my intention :)

 



I'm glad you clarified this because I did feel that you were accusing.......I understand and respect what your experience  has been, but just because I might  feel the need for alone time in the evening (to refresh, regroup and take care of things I cannot take care of when my children are awake and active) doesn't mean that I am not committed to parenting - au contraire!!!!

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#13 of 13 Old 04-11-2011, 04:18 AM
 
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just because I might  feel the need for alone time in the evening (to refresh, regroup and take care of things I cannot take care of when my children are awake and active) doesn't mean that I am not committed to parenting - au contraire!!!!

Exactly. I think it's such a bizarre argument TBH. I hear about people who have 'family bedtimes' where they all go to bed at mighnight or whatever. I hope they realize that that is not the norm. The vast majority of us would go mad without some time to ourselves off the clock. My kids know that mommies and daddies stay up later than kids. They might not always like it but it's important.


DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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