Difficulty at bedtime with 3 year old. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 03-25-2013, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
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I am feeling so frustrated right now. My 3.5 yr old DD has started pulling the good ole' delay tactics at bedtime. It used to be just bath, stories, kisses and lights out. Done and out in 30 min max.

It isn't always that simple, a request for water or an occasional whimper about not being sleepy...but her determination to derail the bedtime routine has hit a new level lately. There is no end to the requests... Tonight it was twoseparate requests for water, two books, three teddy bears, one 'go get daddy to say good night again' etc etc. I accommodate to a certain point and finally just then say 'ok, i will get X but then mommy has to go." and I follow through. But the moment I walk out that door, she bursts into tears. I will go back in quickly, mostly because I don't want her to wake up her 1 yr old brother next door who is a light sleeper and a terrible sleeper overall.

I tried to handle it gently but firmly tonight but after the fourth attempt to leave and even louder crying I snapped at her to 'Stop it' in a very pinched tone which made her cry harder, my husband scold me and made me feel equal parts angry and disappointed in myself.

How do I get bedtime back on track? Any ideas that have worked for you?
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#2 of 7 Old 03-25-2013, 06:56 PM
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Sit in the room until she is asleep. She needs to know she can trust you to be there whenever she needs you, and even though she no doubt knows it, she is looking for a reminder. Remember, all phases pass soon enough!

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#3 of 7 Old 03-26-2013, 08:49 AM
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My 5yo has always been a not-so-good sleeper. Seriously, since the time he was born that is just how he has been so I feel for ya because he is the same way!


He goes to sleep in his bed and ends up in ours which I do not mind. What I do mind is when I put him to sleep for the next hour he is asking for something. He is hungry, he wants water, he is scared, he heard a noise, he has to pee, he has to poop, etc. So, I completely understand how difficult it is and I know it's extremely frustrating. I have lost it with him several times and said things or just been ugly which makes me feel bad, too. We are just human and it's trying getting a kid to go to sleep who just keep fighting it!


I have no help. I still struggle with this on a nightly basis. I make sure all of his needs are met before bedtime and I also try to "wear him out" in the evening time but it just doesn't seem to do the trick. He just doesn't like to go to sleep.


Good luck.

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#4 of 7 Old 03-26-2013, 06:13 PM
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Or could Daddy? I still lay down with my three year old to put him to bed, but he's my youngest. When my oldest was that age, if Daddy was home, he'd sit with her until she fell asleep. Bedtime when he was gone was a mess, but I'd try promising to check on her frequently.

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#5 of 7 Old 03-26-2013, 06:27 PM
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I still lay with dd1 and dd2 while they are falling asleep in our big bed. Dd2 is making some requests now to delay... but I just quietly lay until they are asleep.

SAHM to Chloe«- 6/2008 (10 lbs, 5 oz), Hannah- 9/2010 (9 lbs, 12 oz), Liam- 2/2013 (9 lbs, 6 oz)

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#6 of 7 Old 03-26-2013, 07:38 PM
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Have you experimented with timing at all?  If she's got her 2nd wind it may be hard to fall asleep.  Maybe try moving bedtime earlier or later to see if that helps.  


Things that have helped us: 

We have a posted bedtime routine (which helps for babysitters, too) with words and pictures so he can "read" it and know what's next.

Bath, play, read, brush teeth/potty, songs, sleep.  That takes us an hour.

One of us will usually stay in the room for a few minutes.  DH minds less because he just brings his laptop in.  I only stay for 2-5 minutes because DS will just pepper me with questions.

For DS the mini-meltdown cry (like if we didn't sing the song the right way) starts when he's super tired, but a minute or two of it seems to help.  Sometimes we just need a good cry.  I know I do.  Maybe add a white noise machine to her brother's room?

I always try to talk a little about what we did that day and what we're planning to do the next day, sort of as a reminder that if we've all had our sleep, we'll have more fun together.  

You could also try the check back in 5 min, check back in 10 min, etc. 

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#7 of 7 Old 03-27-2013, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ThreeTwoFive View Post

Have you experimented with timing at all? 


You could also try the check back in 5 min, check back in 10 min, etc. 

ThreeTwoFive: I haven't played with timing much but she does seem to be trying to sort out the nap thing... she usually doesn't nap anymore but when she does she CRASHES for a good 2.5 hrs.  Has made bedtime timing a bit tricky.  


We do sit with her a while to recap the day and, more importantly, go over all the great stuff we will do the following day.  That USED to work well as it gave her incentive to get a good rest to be ready for it all and left it on a positive note. 


I might try your 'check on you in 5 mins' thing and see what happens!


Originally Posted by revolting View Post

Or could Daddy? I still lay down with my three year old to put him to bed, but he's my youngest.

Revolting: I personally LOVE this suggestion.  Daddy not as much. ;)  But seriously she is reacting differently for him than to me, so it might just have to be that way for the short term.


Originally Posted by newmama8824 View Post

My 5yo has always been a not-so-good sleeper. Seriously, since the time he was born that is just how he has been so I feel for ya because he is the same way!


newmama8824: Sorry you are suffering through this too!  I think I am reacting so strongly because my DD had been so good for so long and my 1 yr DS is as you describe yours... a not-so-good sleeper!  I am not able to come to terms with the idea that my daughter might need more bed time help again when my son has been / is so demanding!  Wishing you some relief too! :)


Last night I tried a different tactic and instead just ASKED her outright what she needed to feel sleepy.  She stopped her whining and thought a while and said "Olivia book" and she ALMOST settled right into bed after I brought one for her!  Almost.  She still had a few more demands but the look on her face showed she nearly accepted this! 


Hoping tonight goes even that much better...

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