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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My son has been what you could call 'high needs' since birth - even before then, if his in utero activity was any indication. I managed to get through his infancy with my sanity still intact, but he's 25 months old now, and I'm ready to lose it.

He hits. If I try to tell him no, or divert him from his desires in any way, he hits me, and says "Bad!". We don't hit him or call him bad, so I assume he's picking it up from overhearing conversation or something. He also kicks, pinches, bites, pulls my hair, whatever. He doesn't do it to DH as much as he does it to me, for some reason (and it's not b/c DH is more strict, he's a pushover with DS!). If I sit next to him on the couch, he'll sometimes lay down and begin kicking me with his heels, or he'll climb on me and pull my hair, or crawl down to bite my hands or feet. I'm covered in little bruises and the occasional set of teeth marks, and I'm getting to the point where I cannot sit beside him without defending myself. He's never seen us hit, or kick, or anything, yet he has this insatiable drive to do it. He's very cheerful and loveable, but so VIOLENT!
: And he does it to other children too - any time he's near his sister or cousin, they're prepared to run away. We cosleep, and surprisingly he's perfect when it's time for 'night night', but once we're out of the bedroom in the morning, it's open season on Mommy.

He also has no patience for anything, and expresses his instant frustration with piercing shrieks. Maybe he can't get a blanket off the chair as fast as he wants to, or a toy out of his toybox, or maybe I can't get to him right this instant when he wants me. Then he might throw whatever he's trying to play with, or hit me or something else he can reach. I understand toddlers have low thresholds for patience, it's the way he acts on it that I have an issue with. He is very intelligent, normal in every way for his age, just his temper and way of expressing it.

He also wants me to hold him everytime I get up to do anything. If I am doing dishes, I have to do them one-handed unless he's playing with DH. I can't put him in his sling or mei tei, b/c he wants down every couple of minutes - he goes off to explore and then wants back up 30 seconds later. Some days, he shrieks in fury if I try to do anything other than sit beside him on the couch, which is how today was. I can only do things online once he's in bed or outside (he's out with DH right now).

I really am mortified to be posting about how awful his behaviour is, but I'm at the end of my rope. We wanted another before he turned 3, but now we're using birth control and I refuse to TTC b/c I'm so worn out from trying to work with this child. My first child was nothing like this, or else she would have been an only child!
: Our sex life has gone to pot b/c by the time we go to bed (DS goes to bed when we do, haven't had luck changing that), I am feeling so touched out, mauled, and ABUSED, that I just cannot tolerate anyone touching me, or having to give anything else to another person. Just this morning, I had the worst urge to just smack him, although I never would or could. But I was just frustrated and angry and in tears.

I need some help.
I need books, or something. Advice, maybe a BTDT story or two. I need some hope that I can make things better for us. My son is not a bad kid, I'm not a bad mom, but something is going so wrong here.
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you sound overwhelmed, tired and touched out verging on burned out

i know we all want to beprefect mothers who engae their children and keep them happy and loved and content all the time but if we feel crummy its not going to happen

right ow i am so struggling with my 5yo and i know i need to be kind tomyself in order to be kinder to him, its just so hard sometimes

i am going to try to take mine swimming every morning and also do something active after our afternoon rest - i hope it works, maybe yourlittle one could do with some more activity ormaybe you could jst do with a little time for you

you are NOT alone
 

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So what do you do when he hits/kicks and pulls your hair? I've got two basic strategies for this. The first is prevention -- so to grab his hand/legs or whatever BEFORE he connects, say gentle and help him be gentle. Then if he tries again, do the same thing, and then get up and say "I'll play with you when you're gentle."

My second strategy is much less GD, but has saved my sanity and kept me from hitting my kids when I'm furious, so I'm going to give it here (getting hit or seeing my kids hit each other makes me see red). We pick them up and put them in their room, by themselves. We say "ouch that hurt. I won't play with you when you hurt me" and leave them alone for a few minutes until we cool down.

Can you set up a 'calm spot' in your house where you can take him/send him when he's overly frustrated? He sounds like a spirited, persistent kid and may need help winding down. You'll have to practice BEFORE he gets out of control, but a spot with blankets and pillows, where he can be by himself might help.

Quote:
He also wants me to hold him everytime I get up to do anything. If I am doing dishes, I have to do them one-handed unless he's playing with DH. I can't put him in his sling or mei tei, b/c he wants down every couple of minutes - he goes off to explore and then wants back up 30 seconds later.
Simple solution here as my dd does the same thing: a STEP STOOL. Dd can climb up, see what I'm doing, play in the water ,and then climb down on her own accord.

Finally, another suggestion - I'm going to suggest you read "The out of sync child" or "sensational kids" -- is it possible that he has sensory processing issues? Some kids are 'sensory seekers' -- and their often labeled as 'violent' and 'loud' - they do make other kids run in terror because they just need the contact and the reaction.

Another good book is "The Emotional Life of the Toddler" -- about typical kids, but it has a chapter on high energy kids (like your son) -- and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hang in there -- maybe you need someone to come in and play with him sometimes? Take him to the park? Run him around?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oops, I guess I should have said what we do now when he does something wrong - sorry, I'm just a bit frazzled!

Shrieking - I cover my ears, say "Ow! I don't like that sound!" and make a whisper or soft noise, to show what is nice to hear.

Pulls my hair - I grab his hand at the base of my hair - so he can't pull any harder! Than carefully work it out of my hair, and say "NO - that HURTS Mommy." very clearly with a serious face. Repeat as needed.

Bites - remove his mouth, tell him no, it hurts.

Hitting/kicking/pinching - I stop his feet or take his hands and pull them down or away, so they're resting on the floor or couch where we are, while telling him no, hurts Mommy etc. I hold the hands or feet there for a moment, until he has a minute to absorb the message.

I do what I hear you're supposed to do and it has no effect. We did have a chair by me at the sink for a day or so, but DS then grabs anything in reach and flings it on the floor or at me. That's another thing - he is very destructive, anything within reach is throw or pulled down. He threw a bowl once, and it hit my ankle bone, taking a very large chip out of the bowl.

The more I write the more depressed I'm getting, and seeing what a problem I have here. I'll look up sensory processing issues. Thanks for the help so far.
 

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My 3 y.o. ds is high need/spirited, too. I like some of Lynn's suggestions, but it sounds like you're already doing some of those. One more thing that I remember doing is physically moving myself. I never tried moving him to a different room--he actually would have freaked out too much at that age. Anyway, for example, if we were sitting on the couch together and he hit me, I would get up and walk to the other side of the room, or sit in a different chair. And I would tell him that I can't be near him he's going to hurt me, or something like that.

Hang in there.
I know how hard it is! I remember for the first two years of ds's life I sat on the floor (or carried him around) and entertained him. Somehow I did fine those two years, but then I just couldn't take it anymore. The good thing is that my ds has gotten easier as he's gotten older. I still feel like I get beat up everyday, and I feel like I'm always having to defend myself when I'm near him, but for my ds it's just because of his intensity and energy. It's (mostly) not just being aggressive.

I also completly understand the instant frustration with piercing shrieks! I really think this gets better with age, too. I really just think my ds hated being a baby and young toddler. He's always wanted to do more than his little body would let him.

Oh, another idea I just thought of. For those times when he wants up right now or has a hard time waiting for something...I had my ds sing "The Waiting Song". I just made up a little tune and sang "waiting, waiting, we are waiting" over and over again until I could tend to him. At first, of course, we would only sing it once or twice, but gradually he was able to wait longer.

Wow, my ds doesn't sound exactly like yours, but I can relate to *so* much of what you say! You will get through this. You are not a bad mom and your ds is not a bad kid. I really think things will get better as he gets a little older--I know how hard it is to make it through, though.

Oh, and I had to laugh when you said he was high needs even before birth.
I've always said the same thing of my ds, too! He kicked sooo hard!!
 

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I agree about the removing yourself -- that's in my repretoire before the 'levitation into their room', but I forgot it. Standing up and walking away worked wonders with our daughter. (But I'll admit, she doesn't sound nearly as intense as your son!)

I am actually posting again because I was looking up a book for myself and ran across this, which might be interesting for you:
The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of Children by Stanley I. Greenspan, Jacqueline Salmon

They've got a chapter on "The Active/Agressive Child" (mine is the "Highly Sensitive" one.) that looks interesting.

And while I'm at it, here are some links about sensory processing stuff:
http://www.spdnetwork.org/aboutspd/w...SensorySeeking
http://www.spdnetwork.org/aboutspd/index.html
http://www.sensoryintegrationhelp.com/
http://www.kidfoundation.org/what/spd.html
 

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How much rough play does he get? Does he get lots of gross motor exercise? Chances to wrestle and "play" fight? How about gymnastics?

I agree it sounds like something more than a behavior issue, or a parenting issue, or that you aren't responding right. I don't know much about sensory-seeking behaviors, but that sounds like a good place to start. I wouldn't blame yourself, it sounds tough!
 

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one thing that occurred to me is that you're telling him that his actions hurt etc... but it's important to remember that at age 2, while they may understand the word, i really dont think they can then connect that to their own actions and therefore alter/change/diminish what they're doing. Even at 3, my dd can't comprehend how her actions can hurt. she knows we dont' like them, she understands that they hurt and she knows what hurting is, but she is only *just* learning about how to regulate her actions.

i'm not saying that you shouldn't teach the word 'hurt' or the effects of his actions, but in addition, i like roses' suggestion of singing the waiting song... in waldorf they suggest showing/giving the child something they can bite, hit, etc..have you used timers? that was a lifesaver for us- something he can see himself. when he shrieks, take him outside and shriek with him. connect outside with louder voices instead of just telling him not to. do you see what i'm getting at? seems like he needs outlets for the behavior that are ok (or that you can tolerate) until he works through whatever is making him do them. and i agree you might have a bigger issue at hand, but trying some new techniques might buy help you not feel so overwhelmed and you might hit on something that works for him.

good luck to you... i've hit similar spots with my dd (impatience, yelling) and its maddening. seems like you're being incredible with him and have tons of patience- give yourself a break! (like-a real one... a walk, a movie, a coffee date with a friend etc...)
 

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I was just going to suggest giving him more propeoceptive activities. boys need more joint impact than girls (typically) and you can get this by having him jump up and down, bounce on a ball, swing upside down with you holding his legs...anything that gves his joints a "jolt"so to speak.
it does sound like he has a need for more sensory input. playdough, goop and silly putty can do that.
I understand your fustration!!!!!!!
my second dd requires more from me than sometimes i have....I need refueling too.
hang in there

oh forgot about...trampolines are great for impacting joints
 

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All my Blessings to you. I wish I had more advice to give regarding your ds and his actions. Everyone has given such wonderful and insightful advice already. I did want to say something about you and your sex life. I think the most important thing in dealing with any difficult situation is to first take care of yourself. There is no way that you can turn his behaviors into healthy actions if you are not feeling healthy and well yourself. Speak to you dh about facilitating time for you to get out of the house and spend some time centering yourself. You are spending all day and night taking care of his needs. Share a little of this time to take care of your needs.
I realized in my own life that if I didn't seperate my ds (24 months) from me for a given time each day, I was just getting "touched out". Though he slept with us for the first year, and I love having a family bed; I needed time not being touched so I could reconnect with desire to be touched by my dh. Since moving to a big-boy bed, we have had to "lock" (we put the baby gate outside his bedroom door, and then use a bunji to connect door handle to gate) him in at bedtime. He screamed at first, but after realizing that trying to get out was futile, he gave up and now goes to bed on his own no hassle. I feel so blessed for this time alone with my dh! There are still many nights that I go in when I am ready for bed and bring him to my bed to sleep with me. The time alone with my dh reminds me that I am a lover and friend...not just a mother. If I didn't have that I think I would go insane.

[Though my ds has never bit me he did try it with dh. When ds bit down, dh just pushed his arm further into his mouth. He isn't able to continue to bite down and though it doesn't hurt him, it is uncomfortable. It took him one time to figure out that he didn't want to bite anymore.]

I wish you the best. Take care of yourself momma.

Blesssings
 

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I hope I can offer you a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. My ds was exactly as you describe your baby. He started his crazed actions in the womb and there was no end to his "attacks" once he arrived. He is about to turn 3 and his agressive behavior has inproved greatly. He is still very physical. When he hugs you, you know you've been hugged. For the most part now he is able to reign his body in. I don't think anything we did stopped the behaviors but more helped us cope with him until he was able to have control. A couple things that helped was having him very busy during the day even better if he was outside being busy. The other was to let him crash. He would stomp ice cubes, knock bottles of water down, run through block houses, dump loud objects, and even sometimes have some wrestling time with me. I fond even though this stimulation seems counterproductive it helped him to get his sensory needs met.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks so much, mamas! I appreciate the advice about sleeping, but for us, cosleeping is just a non-negotiable area; I know in a way it makes things harder, but at the same time, he still wakes up in the night and needs me, and it's so much easier to just roll over and tend to him than to get up, go into another room, and spend half the night getting him into his bed. There's no way I could do CIO, for a couple reasons - one, it would just crush me to hear him needing me and ignoring him, and two, we live in an apartment - with his piercing shrieks, we'd be evicted in no time.


So, today I went to the library, and only found a couple of discipline books that advocated spanking.
So I got them to order in a couple of books, including a Dr. Sears book, that should be in next week.

Also, I made a point of an hour of 'wrestling' on the bed this morning (we have mattresses on the floor, so I'm not worried about him falling off), and, horror of all horrors, I taught him to bounce on the bed. I know, I know, but I figure a few bedsprings are worth my sanity now, and I can teach him an alternative when he's older, like a mini trampoline or something (can't have one now in our apartment).

I also talked to DH about enrolling him into some active playgroups - some sort of thing that will let him burn of some steam and socialize a bit. It's going to be an effort, since we live in a rural area and I don't drive - I'll have to get rides to some of it - but it's worth it if it works!

I appreciate all your kind words, thanks!
 

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Hey mama, I agree that there are some sensory issues going on here. If you are going to read some books -- read those that address sensory issues. Out of Sync Child or Highly Sensitive Child...

Finding more actitivy for his day is a great step. My children are not as extreme as your little boy, but they do need several hours a day of real exersize. At least 2 hours. Outside, on their bikes, at the pool, etc. It makes a night and day difference.

For the aggressive behaviors -- I would think it terms of redirection. How can you meet his need to bite something, without allowing him to hurt you? Can you keep biting objects on hand at all times? When he bites, say, "Do you need to bite something? Try this instead. We don't bite people." Its not enough to try to make him stop. You have to find an acceptable substitute for every behavior. Its much easier to "do something else instead" than it is to stop a behavior cold turkey.

Also -- I'm so glad that cosleeping is going well for you! You NEED that time to reconnect with him when he's being sweet and nice. He needs it as well.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sahmama
horror of all horrors, I taught him to bounce on the bed.
I think that's a great idea! I let my ds do the same thing, and I think it's really helpful. It is kind of funny when other kids come to play at our house, though...they're often surprised and excited that it's allowed.


And about cosleeping, my ds still sleeps in our room--that's what he still needs right now, too. I think high needs children usually do. He does sleep on his own mattress, though, which we started around the age of 2, I think. It does seem like it would be very helpful for you to get your ds to bed before you go to bed. I know, for me, that time separated from ds was so important. For a long time, I had to settle him back to sleep every half hour until I went to bed, which was annoying and frustrating, but still worth it to get a little break. Not sure what you've tried or how much you've tried, but if you want some ideas you could go into more details of your situation in that area....
 

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I'm right there with you - my ds sounds similar to yours. It's so hard, isn't it? At times I just want to hide under my bed and never come out!
There's been a lot of great suggestions so I don't have much to add. For us, I find not reacting too much to the hitting etc works well - I was taking it (and still do - am working on it!) way too personally and getting quite upset, partly because it really hurt - anyhow, this just made it worse because he thought my reaction was just fantastic and wanted to see it over and over again! But it sounds like your reactions are quite calm so this might not be an issue for you. I've done the moving myself out of the way thing, and we have had some success with that, but he normally just follows and then it's all about chasing me! So what I've started to do is go straight to the chasing/running. I say 'I don't like to be hit' or whatever is appropriate, and then add something about him having a lot of energy (I'm trying to think of a good fun way to say this - any ideas anyone?) so let's run to run it off - and we run around the house. He loves this. And it breaks the cycle we can get in with him hitting etc. This normally works best when the hitting is a fun game to him and he's kind of dancing as he does it - it's like he just has soooooooo much energy he doesn't know what to do with it, you know? If he's hitting out of anger, we have started making angry faces instead which sometimes works - he loves to go to a mirror and watch his angry face and just cracks up laughing. Also we do lots of physical activities - lots of jumping on the bed here, and playing football in the living room (when we can't go outside)! The other thing that makes a huge difference for us is sleep. If he has enough, he doesn't hit etc so much but when he does, these approaches I've mentioned above normally work. When he hasn't had enough sleep, there's a lot more hitting etc and the running, angry faces etc aren't as likely to work.

Hope you find a way to get through it that works for you and your little guy! I'm off to check out some of the links other people have posted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
I was taking it (and still do - am working on it!) way too personally and getting quite upset, partly because it really hurt - anyhow, this just made it worse because he thought my reaction was just fantastic and wanted to see it over and over again! But it sounds like your reactions are quite calm so this might not be an issue for you.
Actually, I'm sure I did a lot here to make it worse - it is often very painful when they hit or bite, and for the first bit of this, I did squeal and yelp. Now I think he looks at me as a giant squeaky toy, and wants a reaction sometimes, though he hasn't gotten one in a while. It is SO hard to keep cool. I mean, if anyone came up and hit me or bit me, my reaction would be to give it right back, yet I'm supposed to grin and bear it now. Argh!

I've tried so hard to get him to bed earlier than us - if anyone has a specific suggestion, let me know! Usually, we all go to bed, but I just cannot fall asleep. I'm so wound up from dealing with him and everything else around here, that I get back up and have to let some steam off. Not good, considering bedtime is about 11:00 p.m. - I don't get to bed until very late, b/c I HAVE to have time to myself.

I'm really hoping the recent increase in his biting is due to getting molars - he's showing a lot of teething signs this week, esp. today. If it is, oh I pray it is, I can have some hope that this one thing might get better. The rest of it, I can't blame teething. He came up last night and slapped me right across the mouth, and yelled "BAD!". That's gotta be one of the most hurtful things either child has ever done to me.

I've been checking out some of those links, and some of that sensory stuff is just so 'right on' with him. I'm sitting here reading it, nodding and saing "Yep...yep..." as I read the lists. The first time I looked at them, I admit I cried; it's upsetting to think my sweet baby has behavioural issues that are such a problem, yet such a relief to know it's recognized as more than just bad parenting or bad kids, KWIM? Thanks so much to all of you. I'll be back to check replies and update, and I'm glad if this thread helps some other mamas in my shoes.
 

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You've gotten some GREAT suggestions. I just wanted to add that I had heard somewhere that around this age or so, little boys have as much testosterone in their little bodies as a 12yo. I've known lots of boys who've been similar to your ds at this age (to varying extents), and it is very very hard on mama.

My ds is also a higher-needs-at-night child. We cosleep. Ds will not fall asleep unless we all go to bed. Whenever we've succeeded in getting him to sleep earlier, and then we get up to do other things, he's up within 45 min crying, and then he spends the whole night waking up crying. What I've found works for us is to spend a good amount of time winding down and reading books with him, then we all go to bed. In the morning, I get up early and have several hours of blissful quiet before he wakes up. And he stays asleep for quite awhile after I get up, which always amazes me. When dh is out of town, and ds falls asleep earlier, I'll just stay in the bedroom and watch a movie quietly or read a book, and he stays sound asleep (as long as I'm within arms reach, I guess!).

Have you also looked into food sensitivities? Sorry if this was already mentioned....my brain is foggy tonight.

Hang in there!


Kristen
 

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I'm npt sure I can help with suggestions for sleeping because we are having problems ourselves, but I just wanted to say two things. One is that I know I was the one that mentioned the sleep thing, but maybe it does just suit him to go to bed when he does - I wasn't sure if you said you think that he is overtired?? Ds will wake up 6-6.30 most mornings regardless of what time he goes to bed - so if he went to bed when I did, he'd be massively tired. That's why we struggle to get him to bed earlier. But if your guy sleeps in, then maybe that just suits him? If not, what is working for us is accepting that it WILL take about an hour for him to go to sleep and that as long as it's a reasonably happy hour, we are cool with that. Dh and I alternate nights. Lately what we've been talking to ds about a lot is how he needs to stay still to go to sleep - it might sound crazy, but i really believe if he'd just STOP MOVING he'd get to sleep a lot easier, so we are trying to teach him how to relax. I also find that at some point during bedtime being firm usually works well with us (something like saying it is time to go to sleep and then playing dead!). So I guess we impose a limit, though I'm not sure how much of a limit it really is because if he didn't accept it it isn't like we'd really do anything about it, you know? We aren't going to leave him in the room crying or something. Maybe it's an empty threat. Ouch. Don't like that. Hmmm. Gonna have to think about this again!
:

OK, so now that I've totally confused both of us, I'm off to bed!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sahmama
...we live in a rural area and I don't drive...
You've gotten great advice, but this just jumped out at me -- are you and DS spending most days cooped up in the apartment? Do you go for walks, to the park, etc.? He could be feeling a little "cabin fever"ish -- I know I get loony when I'm inside too long, and I'll start feeling grumpy and aggressive.

I'm much more balanced if I can experience varied settings throughout the day. So DS and I will play in his room in the morning, then go somewhere (park, store, storytime at the library, etc.). Then, after his nap, we'll play in the backyard for a while, then go for a short walk when DH gets home from work, then play in the living room in the evenings. That way he's getting different toys at each play session, and getting to experience different settings all day long.

My DS is an incredibly easy kid, though, so I'm sorry if my suggestions are overly simplistic, or if you're already getting out of the house a lot and it's not helping. Good luck to you -- it sounds like a lot of other mamas have given you great tips!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sahmama
I've tried so hard to get him to bed earlier than us - if anyone has a specific suggestion, let me know! Usually, we all go to bed, but I just cannot fall asleep. I'm so wound up from dealing with him and everything else around here, that I get back up and have to let some steam off. Not good, considering bedtime is about 11:00 p.m. - I don't get to bed until very late, b/c I HAVE to have time to myself.
So, it sounds like the problem isn't that he won't sleep without you (since you say you get back up to let off some steam), but that bedtime is so late? Can you try getting him to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual? Then, when that becomes normal, try 15 minutes earlier than that. And so on...Also, make sure you have a good, solid bedtime routine if getting him to sleep is a problem. I know for my son at that age a long bedtime routine was crucial. We did something like pajamas, teeth, dim lights, storytime, prayers, sing him or nurse him to sleep. Whatever works for you guys. My son needed a good hour of bedtime routine at that age because he was so wound up and intense. That's not even including the time we would spend in the bedroom actively helping him fall asleep.
 
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