(cross posting in nighttime parenting)
I am finding myself more & more at my wits end with my son right now. He's almost 3. Generally, we're having a rough time, but DH & I are both able to maintain our patience during the day... It's bed time that turns us all into monsters.
DS always starts the night out in his bed & has for a long time now. He transitioned to his toddler bed relatively recently (now about 1 1/2 or 2 months ago) & things have gotten progressively worse. To the point that literally we all end up going to bed at the same time & waking up at the same time. DH & I hardly have time to clean up the dinner dishes let alone have any time to ourselves either in the evening or mornings (also REALLY interfering with my ability to catch up on work or get ready for work so that I can leave close to on time), and DS is hardly sleeping 8 hours at night!
Last night & tonight have been the worst. I have totally found myself acting out -- mean, forceful emotionally & physically (holding him down when he kicks the blankets off, putting him in back bed when I know it's no use... he'll just get up again). I would be scarred if I were him & heard the tone in my voice! Then tonight, DH wanted to implement consequences (not logical or natural -- we do natural consequences, as in "well, you didn't cooperate so now we don't have time to do X"). This is totally against my discipline philosophy (though so is my yelling at him...) but I'm at my wits end so I say fine. We do our nighttime routine & he's so tired, I'm thinking great he'll just go to sleep. Nope. We finish our cuddle time (I set a timer because he actually never cuddles but just wiggles & chatters, not calming down) & he suddenly gets riled up & won't calm down. I threaten that he won't be able to come to bed with us tonight. Doesn't work & I leave angry. DH threatens & takes away a beloved truck (not something he sleeps with). The tears begin. He continues to run around. I threaten to take another truck & do when he doesn't cooperate. He's screaming. Asking to nurse & I say no because we already did & it's time to get to sleep. DH gets him to calm down & DS is saying he's going to take away our toys (which is of course why I didn't want to do illogical consequences in the first place, aside from the fact that it's totally arbitrary & makes no sense to his brain). He continues to run around. I take away another truck but he seems not to care anymore.
He's finally asleep by about 10. He fell asleep around 10:15 last night, ended up in our bed & was awake at 6 when my alarm went off. We've tried pushing up his bed time but it didn't seem to make a difference. And a VERY early bedtime is difficult because I don't get home until 6 or 6:30 -- though I'd try it if I thought it would help. But no matter what time we start it takes at least 2 hours to get him to bed, sometimes longer if you include teeth brushing, etc. It's gotten so we hardly ever bathe him at night since that would just add to it. We're also very careful not to give anything sugary after dinner (which for us means fruit). He sometimes takes long (3 hr) naps to catch up, but that's not the norm so I really worry that he's missing out on important amounts of sleep. Plus, we can't sustain all of us having the same bedtime & wake time -- when else can we get the taxes done or figure out preschool or just have some alone time?!
I know he's still adjusting to the new freedom of the toddler bed, I know I'm doing it all wrong... please someone help me get back on a gentle & loving path!
Mama to my little busy bee.
OK, easy for me to say since my daughter didn't give us quite that rough a time with the transition. But when things like that are happening, I find it helpful to just try to detach emotionally from the situation (easier said than done.) Walk him back to bed every time and say the same thing "Time to sleep now." in a kind, firm, and maybe slightly robotic way. He wants interaction, even if it's negative interaction, and it gets him more excited & less likely to sleep. You might have to do this for like 2 hours for a few nights, but it should get better. After you have done the usually bedtime routine with cuddles or stories or whatever he likes, just stop being fun or interesting and start being as boring as possible. If he pitches a fit, don't interact with him--just say "time to sleep now, love you, good night" and walk out. He'll probably cry for a while and then come out and you'll walk him back...etc.
(There was some study about tantrums recently, that basically when a kid is in the middle of one they really can't listen to any thing else...they need to calm down on their own first before any comfort or reasoning is possible.)
Also, I might suggest a dimmer switch in his room for the bedtime routine if you don't already have one...mood lighting helps.
So I tried staying super calm & boring last night & between DH & I we had to go in & walk him back to bed around 30 times. But we both were calm & short. Tonight so far he hasn't eve gotten out of bed & it's still "early" compared to what it's been recently! I know tomorrow could be back to the same antics but I think you're totally right on! Thanks so much for the advice & encouragement!
Mama to my little busy bee.
So I think you need to find a way to emotionally disengage. I don't know just how. But try to keep the emotions out of it, because I'm afraid that's probably horribly counterproductive.
t2009, I'm glad that helped! Hope it keeps going ok!
(I have found the "walking away" from a tantrum to be a really useful technique lately with DD, who is 3 and sometimes just contrary for the sake of asserting herself. Lately it seems like she just sometimes needs me to give her the space/autonomy she needs and then she makes the right choice.)