Consequences for Bedtime Mischief - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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To briefly introduce myself: I posted on MDC quite a bit last year, then took a hiatus, then came back because I'm pregnant (due in July). I've been lurking for a few weeks and it's good to be back.

My problem is this. My daughter is 3 years old, and we've co-slept since she was about 9 months old. (By "we" I mean just just the two of us; my husband snores loudly, so we sleep in the guest room while he sleeps in the master bedroom.) She goes to bed fairly late, around 10 or 10:30. Previously, I would lay with her until she fell asleep and then get up and spend some time with my husband, but since the start of my pregnancy I've been so tired that I usually just fall asleep with her.

Lately she's been pummelling me, for lack of a better word, before falling asleep. She'll hit me (with hands or with her baby doll), or pull my hair, or scratch me, or kick me. My usual response is something like: "We do not hit (or pull hair, or whatever). If you hit me again I will leave the room and you'll have to sleep by yourself."

However, I've created a trap for myself, because first of all, I don't want her to view sleeping by herself as a punishment, particularly since in a few weeks we're going to try to transition her to her own room and work on getting her to fall asleep without me, in preparation for the baby. Also, the one time I actually followed through and left the room, she cried hysterically, and I had to go back in to her, because it felt very much like CIO (I don't know how long she would have cried, or if she actually would have eventually cried herself to sleep, but it felt very wrong). (Plus I'm so tired at night that the last thing I want to do, once I'm in bed, is to get up!)

So, last night she hit me twice and pulled my hair once, and each time I said, "If you do that again I'm leaving the room," and I felt like a liar each time because I knew I wouldn't follow through. And I think she knows that too.

I have found that if I give her a little speech before the light goes out, ie "If you hit me, or pinch me, or scratch me, or whatever, I will leave the room," she'll generally remember to keep her hands to herself. But even then I'm turning sleeping by herself into a punishment, and I don't think that's a good thing.

So I'm kind of at a loss. I will say that we are having issues with hitting in general (she has started to hit me and our dogs) and I'm not sure I'm being very effective in preventing that, either. (I usually take her hand and say, "We do not hit, hitting hurts." She doesn't seem to care. ) But the nighttime pummelling is even more annoying because it seems gratuitous--it's not brought on by frustration or anger.

Any ideas?
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#2 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 04:44 PM
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If you don't plan on contimuing to co-sleep, you really ned a plan.

Your dd believes you're supposed to sleep with her. It's where you alwyas sleep. It's her bed and you share it.

I'd set up a room for her (even the same room, but I'd move things around). I'd let her help, buy her fun kids sheets, a new mattress if necessary, decorate HER room, HER way.

The I'd think ahead. Is she ever going to attend schooL? 10 is wayyyy too late, IMHO. So, no naps, lots of fresh air, have dinner realllly early, to throw off her sense of time. And I do mean LOTS of fresh air, tire this kid out!

Then, let her help you set up your place to sleep. In another room, whereever you'll be sleeping with the babe, though I'd leave THAT out of the conversation for now. I'd show her MY bed, and HER bed. I'd grab a catalog and show her pictures of other kids rooms, how kids have their own rooms, how mommies sleep in their own rooms. (BTW, get dh checked for sleep apnea! And talk to his doctor. There are cures for snoring)

I'd go all out here and buy her something special to sleep with, and maybe even get the good ole star chart out (YK, make it all night in your own room, LIKE A BIG GIRL, and get a star. 3 stars gets you an afternoon at the playground, or an ice cream, or whatever. 7 stars!, get you something else. Keep it small, or you'll go broke)

Then, bedtime. Personally, I like the Supernannys' approach. Well, the one from LAST week, where the mother sat on the floor by the bed, moving further away each night, no eye contact, no conversation. If she gets out of bed, you put her back, with still NO CONVERSATION. This seemed to prevent the 'crying til you puke' method Dr Phil recommmended!

I'd think the hitting was a plea for more attention. Even negative attention is bettter than being ignored. MAke sure she gets loads of attention all day, though. Be patient. Be consistent.
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#3 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 04:50 PM
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I don;t have much time, but I hjave some thoughts.

We recently moved my dd to her own room- she's 2.5 and I too am PG. She took to it eassily though she still expects me to cuddle to sleep.

One thing that has helped us is cutting out dd's naps. If she still napped she'd go to bed at 10 at the earliest. We do no naps, very early dinner and she's generally down by 8.

This way you could lie with her if you want, and still be able to get up after.

BTW- when my dd hit or scratches me I do walk away, i call it a mommy time out. I wouldn't make it effect bedtime practices, just do it as a way to let her know it's not OK. Just because you come back does not make walking away ineffective. I mean hopefully all kids know their parents will evenutally come back!

Anyway, I'll come back later. Good luck!
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#4 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 04:51 PM
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I don't think that you are making sleeping by herself seem like a negative thing. I really don't even think the 2 are related. In our house hitting is NEVER OK. At the age of 3 I think it's perfectly appropriate to say that you will not lay with her if she hits you. But you have to follow through, you can't say I'm leaving and not leave. It seems to me like she's testing the limits. If you show that there are consequences, she will probably stop the behavior. If you threaten, but never follow through, then she won't take you for real. Personally I think children like to know there are limits, it helps them to feel safe.
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#5 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 06:36 PM
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Maybe instead of leaving the room, you could get a comfortable chair. Then, when she hits, you could move away from her but still be in the room.

We haven't had hitting issues, but ds is gradually transitioning to going to sleep on his own (he is taking the lead on this). For the times when he doesn't want me right next to him, but doesn't quite want me to leave either, it works well for me to sit in a chair near the bed.
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#6 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 07:07 PM
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If the bedtime was earlier could dh help put her to sleep? (So you don't have to face getting out of bed after she falls asleep - I remember pregnancy!!!) I know that doesn't directly address the issues you raised, but it might help. It might also make the transition to her own bed easier.

Good luck and good nights!
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#7 of 10 Old 02-08-2005, 07:38 PM
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You might also try to initiate some tight cuddling, a little rolling around and then quiet time. She may just be craving physical contact? I have walked out in such situations and closed the door. I can come back in and make clear I will stay only if we can cuddle gently. Your child can understand this, too. If she persists in making a choice that makes it impossible to be together in that way when she understands, I don't think it is wrong to let her cry. She is crying for her right to abuse you. And it is a will issue, not the helplessness of a baby feeling abandoned.

I have also laid with a child and simply physically restrained them with a full body "hug" and then initiated massage, soft singing and humming etc. I would loosen the hug and let go as long as the child was lying with me w/o hitting.

I went through my last pregnancy beng crawled on by 2yo twins, BTW. I used to end up sleeping in their bed a lot, for naps and at night.

I don't comprehend the supernanny idea. It seems like pretending to be an inanimate object and ignoring the child while sitting right there. Like "I refuse to acknowledge you but I'm here for you" ????????? Kinda weird.

ME&treehugger.gifHE... loving our: wild.gifdd(18) ~~violin.gifds(13) read.gifdd(13)~~ peace.gifdd(10)

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#8 of 10 Old 02-09-2005, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

We are going to move her into her own room soon (as soon as I can get my husband to paint it--he's strangely unmotivated about it ), and I am going to let her pick out new sheets, get glow-in-the-dark stars for the ceiling, make it very exciting, etc. And I think at that point I will start sitting beside the bed, after a few minutes of "nuggling," as she calls it, while she falls asleep, instead of lying in bed with her.

It would be nice if she'd go to bed earlier, but I don't see it happening in the next few months. My husband doesn't get home until 7:30, and it seems unfair to send her to bed at 8 or 8:30--she'd never get time with Daddy. Plus she's always been a late riser; she generally sleeps until 9, and there's no compelling reason for us to change that right now either. Cutting out naps has no effect at all. She is going to start preschool in the fall, so we'll have to adjust her schedule, but I figure I can start working on that this summer (when I'll have a new baby and won't be sleeping much anyway!).

And I also realize that I shouldn't threaten to do something and then not follow through. Clearly that's a bad idea. I was just sooo tired and the bed was sooo comfortable I didn't want to get up! I do like the suggestion of just leaving for a few minutes if she hits, rather than saying that I'll be leaving for good. That would probably make enough of an impact to stop the behavior.

Of course last night she was sweet as could be; kept saying how much she loved me and what a nice mommy I was. I heaped the praise right back on her--hope that makes an impact too!
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#9 of 10 Old 02-09-2005, 12:58 PM
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My ds is only a year old, so I'm not sure how helpful this will be, but he's very physical, too. What I'm doing for now is taking him to bed, and if he's not ready to sleep, we'll play energetically (wrestle, jump, etc.) on the bed. If he gets carried away and hits, I say "don't hit mommy, but mommy likes hugs." Then I give him a big bear hug. Sometimes I have to do it a few times, but it usually works. If it doesn't work and he keeps hitting, I get up and step away from the bed, and say, "we don't hit mommy." He'll usually fuss, and then I pick him up and give him a big hug and say, "mommy loves to get hugs from you."

If he's hitting because he's angry or frustrated, I say "we don't hit people, but we can hit pillows," and I hit the pillow a few times. He'll join in.
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#10 of 10 Old 02-11-2005, 01:07 AM
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I could have written your post! Down to the husband getting home late, and snoring and sleeping in the other room! :LOL My son will be 3 in a couple of months and he does the same thing.

A couple of things I have noticed: We also used to put him to sleep later, but I noticed this actually makes it worse. He is overstimulated when it gets past a certain hour, and fusses and procrastinates more and bedtime is a chore that takes 2-3 times as long. If, OTOH, I am on the ball and get him to lights out by 7:30 or 8, it is much easier. Generally I lay with him a few minutes and we are done.

Lately we are having more problems, because I am getting more and more pregnant and tired and we are trying to have DH do some of the bedtimes to give me a break. Also on the nights DH puts him to bed, they start the night in ds's room, or in a little bed on the floor next to our bed (ds's choice). When DH sticks to the bedtime routine, all goes well. However, more often, DH gets distracted and tries to do other things at the same time and bedtime gets really prolonged, and then ds gets upset because he is overtired and cries for me. And then I get stuck lying there for an hour while he rolls around and pokes me, kicks me, etc. I do get up and leave when he does this repeatedly. Though, I end up feeling guilty and resentful. I feel like, why should I have to get up out of MY bed, kwim?

Anyway, don't have a solution for you, but I think I've decided what we need to do in our house, if it helps. One, stick to the EARLY bedtime. This is a big issue between DH and I now. He is trying to come home for lunch more often, or do some work from home at night, so that he can find other ways to see ds and still allow him to get enough sleep. But still, sometimes it is too late and ds is tired and just needs to go to bed, whether DH is there or not. Sleep is too important to miss. Two--make a plan to transition to starting the night in his own bed, even if it is still in our room. That way if I get kicked, I can get up and sit next to the bed, or even leave, but not forced to haul my tired pregnant body out of my own bed. And three, be gentle and consistent with not tolerating the kicking. I think I can do better with this and not get so angry if *I* can get up and leave *his* bed, rather than leaving my own, or banishing him from my bed, which is a chore. For a while when he would sleep in the bed next to ours, if he kicked or was restless I would tell him he is free to kick and roll around, but in his own bed. In our bed we stay quiet. This seemed to work for a while, but then he would start throwing a fit when I told him he had to go there.

Anyhow, good luck!
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