Four year old DD lurking in the night... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a recent issue. Last week I started noticing things amiss in the kitchen, assumed it was DH and thought nothing of it. A few days ago DD proudly told me that she had been getting up in the night to get herself drinks. She was proud, she said, because we were out of milk (in Canada - bagged milk) and she had managed to get a new bag, put it in the holder, and cut the corner off with scissors all by herself "without cutting myself!!" she said. This made me slightly uncomfortable - mainly because our room is next to hers and neither of us heard her get up at all! I worry about what else she could get into while we're dead asleep.

My worries were justified when I went into her bedroom this morning and found an open package of oatmeal all over her bed, and a cup full of vitamins. She swore she only ate one, and poison control didn't think it was an issue (the cup was FULL of the vitamins, so she couldn't have eaten many). They're of the gummy variety - I forget the brand name but there is speculation that they are nothing more than fruit chews, anyway. She had to pull a chair into the pantry to get to them on the highest shelf - a shelf I need to get on my tip-toes to reach.

She is doing these things after DH and I have gone to bed and are fast asleep.

I don't know what to do about this. We talked to her about the danger of getting into these sorts of things. It'd obviously be stupid and unreasonable to gate her into her bedroom. DH doesn't want to gate the kitchen because he thinks that it'd be detrimental now that she's showing so much independance. And it's not feasible to remove EVERYTHING from the kitchen that could pose a danger (knives, uh...the stove itself...etc.)

Any ideas?
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#2 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 03:02 PM
 
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#3 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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obviously be stupid and unreasonable to gate her into her bedroom.
not if she's getting into dangerous things like the stove, knives, vitamins(other meds). What if she turns the stove on & burns herself or puts a towel on it & it starts on fire?

that aside, has she said WHY she's doing this? From the oatmeal, vitamins, drinks that she could be hungry. Does she get a snack before bed? If not giving her one may help keep her from getting up. Can you put a glass of water in her room on a table so she doesn't have to go & get one?

Has she said why she doesn't come to you & wake you up for these things?

Yes she's showing independance & that's good but independance for young kids still needs to be supervised, especially when dealing with the kitchen.
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#4 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We can't gate her into her room because 1) it's a hazard if there's ever a fire; and 2) she'd have no way to use the washroom, which she gets up to do usually once or twice a night. I don't know why she doesn't come to get us. We had an issue a week ago where she got up to go to the washroom in the night, and because the light was off (which she couldn't reach), she went back into her bedroom, pooped on a kleenex, and stashed it under her doll crib. When I asked her the next day why she didn't just come to get us to let us know the light was off, she had no answer. I explained to her that she didn't have to worry about waking us if she needed something at night....but the midnight kitchen trips have happened since then so obviously it didn't sink in.

She has a big bedtime snack, and keeps a drink in her room at night. She got up because she had finished her drink and wanted more.

My thoughts were to put her cups and allowable midnight snacks down on a low, easily accessible shelf along with her cereal and bowls (which she also insists on preparing for herself and her brother in the morning before my alarm even goes off). At least this way she may not be tempted to snoop around, if everything she needs is right there.
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#5 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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Is there no way to gate the area that the bedrooms and bathroom are in? In our house, I gated the hallway to restrict access to the main living area because our DD was roaming at night for awhile, and that freaked me out. Also, we had a baby monitor in DD's room until just recently, for safety reasons and because she'd have bad dreams and would be calling for me and I couldn't hear her. When she'd get up, I could hear the loud clack of her door latch through the monitor and it would wake me (most of the time--sometimes I'd wake to find her staring at me in the dark ). I guess the gate in the hallway is still a fire hazard, but IMO that's less of a concern (assuming you have smoke detectors and all) than her injuring herself in some way in the night. What if she decided to go outside or something? That's SO something my DD2 would try!

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#6 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 06:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Nikki~ View Post
My thoughts were to put her cups and allowable midnight snacks down on a low, easily accessible shelf along with her cereal and bowls (which she also insists on preparing for herself and her brother in the morning before my alarm even goes off). At least this way she may not be tempted to snoop around, if everything she needs is right there.
I'd do this. DS started getting up on his own in the middle of the night at about 3. We'd come down in the morning to all the lights on and DS crashed out on the couch with a plate of crackers and jelly by his feet. We were always clear that we were cool with that (but for earth's sake turn the lights out as you leave the kitchen!) so long as he understood how important it was he never use the stove or toaster or any knives. He's turning 7 now and sometimes still wakes up at 2am to fix himself a snack but not nearly as often as he did between 3 and 5.
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#7 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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She's probably very proud of being so independent! No wonder she doesn't respond positively to the suggestion that she wake you for help.

I like the idea of having a whole shelf of things she can choose from in the night if she wants an additional snack or drink, with safe cutlery and dishes. Perhaps let her know you're setting aside a shelf for that and suggest she select in the daytime what she would like on it, and get the dishes and so on together herself?

Make sure any refrigerated drinks she might want are on low shelves and that she doesn't need to open anything new.

Put a nightlight in the bathroom and ensure there's enough tp before you go to bed.

Ask her if there is anything else she might need in the night that you might want to have at the ready.

If she responds well to explanations for rules, let her know that it's awesome she's helping herself when she needs things, but that part of being so grown-up and independent is also knowing to avoid things that are unsafe, and that the safety rule is that she not: go outside without you or her dad with her, use the stove, use knives (other than perhaps a butter knife), or anything else critical that you can think of.
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#8 of 10 Old 08-31-2007, 11:37 PM
 
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How about a mini-fridge in her room, and a stack of cups and plates - and she gets the responsibility of bringing in the cups and stuff in the morning? She can have carrots, peas, crackers, a small cup of peanut butter and a spoon (to put on her crackers), etc? A safe sense of private independence, but in connection with explaining that unless she needs to go to the bathroom, she may not leave her room at night (explain the safety issues clearly).
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#9 of 10 Old 09-01-2007, 12:15 AM
 
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It sounds like she's having fun exploring while you're asleep. I would lock up anything truly dangerous (like vitamins and medicine), explain very clearly why she must not use things you can't lock up, like the stove, and then I would decide what she may or may not do in the middle of the night, and figure out how to enforce it.

One idea for an "alarm" would be to put bells on a chair and leave it in the kitchen doorway at night, where she'll have to move it to get in the kitchen. Then at least you'll know when she's in there, and you can make sure she doesn't make any big mistakes.

I wouldn't expect a 4 year old to be contained by a gate.

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#10 of 10 Old 09-01-2007, 05:22 AM
 
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Once, I locked myself in my bathroom to get away from my rowdy three year old while I was on the phone (my husband was in the other room, before you all grab your CPS checklist) and not 40 seconds later the door flew open with my daughter standing there holding two wooden skewers she'd used to PICK THE LOCK ON THE DOOR.
No, she'd never seen anyone do this before, but we figured out later she'd been practicing for quite some time to learn on her own.

A four year old that can be contained by a gate? Laughable!

I agree with bells on the door (we did this for my daughter, I trained myself to wake to the sound and it worked) and to lock up anything dangerous and gve her her own shelf. Let her know in a positive way that if she needs to, she can get things from her special shelf that's just for her. Tell her how much it impresses you that she can get things for herself, too.

Also, snacks before bed keep you awake - so if you feed her immediately before nighty-night and expect that to keep her down it really isn't going to work!

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