Mothering Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, we've been having problems with bedtime. There is a lot of procrastinating, bargaining, etc. Tonight, we told DD (who is almost 3) to go pick out her PJs. She said, "no." So, I got some PJs out of her drawer and brought them to her. She wouldn't put them on. I started to put them on her, and she refused and said she wanted a different pair of PJs. So, she went and got another pair of PJ bottoms. Then she refused to put them on. I told her it was bedtime, and time to put on her PJs, and she refused AGAIN, so DH and I ganged up on her and forcibly put her PJs on her. She screamed and thrashed and freaked out, but we overpowered her. We both felt bad. DD threw an hour long tantrum over it. She asked us over and over again to change her shirt. She told us how much she didn't like it. She clearly tried to get herself under control to tell us this. She was EXTREMELY upset about it. But we didn't change her shirt. We told her she had a chance to choose, and she didn't, so we chose for her and now she had to live with it. She never calmed down - she fell asleep out of exhaustion.<br><br>
I feel awful about this, obviously, but I also felt like I had to stick to my guns over the lack of cooperation at bedtime. We gave her an opportunity to choose, and she said no. So, I chose for her. I kept telling her, tomorrow night you will have another opportunity to choose, but of course that was no help. By the time she had freaked out for half an hour about it, I felt bad for her but by then I thought if I give in, she will think if she freaks out long enough, I will do what she wants.<br><br>
So, I feel bad for her, I know this was traumatic for her. I want to help her through it but how can I? Help please.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
925 Posts
With DD, as long as she has something appropriate on her bottom for bedtime (diaper or pullup of her choice), the rest doesn't matter so much to me. She has covers on her bed, so if she gets cold because she decided not to wear jammies, she can cover up. I know what you mean about sticking to something you've said. BTDT. Once it's out there, we feel that we need to stick to it as well. It's always easier to think back on what you could have done. It's also sometimes hard to step back and decide if what they are choosing really effects you or is it just that they don't want to do what you want them to do. We struggle with this all the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't care what she wears either. SHE wants to wear pjs, she just wasn't happy with the pjs she was wearing. We actually told her she could go to bed without pjs, she said no. We told her to pick out her pjs, she said no. After we picked out the pjs for her, she wouldn't put them on and said she wanted to choose a different pair, and we said OK. Then she refused to put on the pjs SHE picked out. By then DH and I were out of patience, so the ugly scene ensued.<br><br>
I think she must have been overtired, but the thing is, at bedtime there is a lot of procrastinating from both kids. We have to tell them over and over that it's time to brush teeth, put on pjs, etc. It's really exhausting and aggravating. Then when we say things like, "you can do it yourself or I can help you," things get ugly with DD.<br><br>
We can't put them to bed earlier because they just don't fall asleep. As it is, they don't fall asleep until almost 10 and they go to bed at 9. And it doesn't seem to matter how early we start the bedtime routine, either - we encounter the same foot-dragging.<br><br>
I think the problem might be that we have always been flexible with them in not forcing them to jump to the task the minute we say so. We thought this was a good thing in that it respected their POV - for instance, if we say "go brush your teeth" and DS says "I want to finish this picture first, I'll do it in 5 minutes," we usually say OK. The problem is, he doesn't follow through after the 5 minutes are up - he wants 5 more minutes, or he starts doing something else, or he takes his sweet time meandering off to the bathroom, etc. I don't know what to do - I don't want to adopt a strict attitude of "You'll do it NOW because I said so," but I feel like sometimes I have to be that way or they don't listen. Some of my other mama friends' kids are so much more obedient than mine. They say, "It's time to leave the park," and the kids just go. They never seem to get the arguing and negotiating that I often get.<br><br>
I want to negotiate with them, because I want them to feel like they are listened to and respected. But they don't seem to get that negotiating does not equal getting their way, and sometimes there is no room for negotiating. I try to make that clear but I guess I'm not doing a very good job. I don't see myself as wishy washy, I've always thought I am firm when I need to be, but lately I feel like the kids seem to think if they just argue with us about it long enough, we'll give in. I don't know why they think that, because I don't think we give in to lengthy arguments. Maybe we do and we don't realize it? So then we end up in these crazy power struggles and we won't let DD change her pjs again, just on principle, which is not something I like to do.<br><br>
Sigh. Sorry this is so long. I could go on, but I'll spare you all.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,992 Posts
I just want to say that we are in the EXACT same position with our DS. I say, it's time to go to bed, let's start getting ready for bed. he screams, NO! I get his pjs, he screams NO! I say, let's read books in bed, he screams NO! Basically, when it's time for bed, he freaks out. Once we're in bed after much screaming and possible fit throwing, he calms down, we read books and go to bed. I'm hoping that after enough times of doing this, he'll the the picture that when it's bedtime, it's bedtime. Otherwise he would stay up till 1am and still throw a fit. I know because I've done that too!<br><br>
Anyway, no advice, just commiseration!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
Hm... I'm wondering if it would help to step back and look a the entire evening's routine. Even without a rigid "do this now" approach (which I don't like either), I'm wondering if a more consistent evening routine would help. We have a pretty standard set of things we do from dinner time on. The kids know what to expect and some vague sense of when, and it only changes when absolutely necessary and then will lots of discussion about what will change. So they know its dinner, about 30 min. of playtime, dessert, bath/shower, teeth, three stories/1 chapter, lights out, snuggles & songs, sleep. Not rushed, not rigid, but predictable.<br><br>
When DS was going through the "No" sort of phase, we found in helpful to make it more concrete and less about us telling him. So he had a "bedtime routine" chart: take off clothes, put in hamper, take shower/bath, dry off, put on PJs or undies, brush teeth, pick books... All things HE got to do and HE controlled, but all listed out. He was very pleased that he could "follow the list" and we just said "what's next on the list?" when things got bogged down. No rewards, no stickers, just taking the power struggle away from us. After all, how can you argue with a poster?<br><br>
The other thing to check is whether she is feeling scared about bedtime or the dark and thus delaying. DD went through a phase where she didn't want to go to bed because it meant being alone in the dark, even though I never left her until she was asleep and she had a nightlight. For a bit she slept with full lights because she felt safer. Maybe she's afraid, having bad dreams, is especially clingy... something like that maybe driving her delay and, obviously, forcing PJs isn't going to address that.<br><br>
In general I try not to force anything in or on the kid's bodies. At the point that she wouldn't put on PJs I think I probably would have just said 'OK, you can sleep naked" and left that battle alone. Even if she wanted PJs at the beginning, sometimes its better to just walk away rather than escalate. For me, that's my "don't cross this line or all h*** might break loose" line. Some of that is my reaction to my own parents getting locked into similar power struggles which ended up in much more violent/violating endings and my fear that I will slip and do the same though.<br><br>
Also, take a step back and look at the whole day. I'm convinced that bedtime issues are frequently reflecting things about much earlier in the day. How are the basics in your household -- lots of outside playtime, good food, regular sleep/wake cycles, physical affection and attention... All of those things I think influence bedtime. Sometimes solving 9 PM issues really involved changing 9 AM routines.<br><br>
And finally, any time I find myself out of patience I know I need to look at whether I am caring for myself and taking care of my own needs. How much sleep, "me time", affection, good food etc. are YOU getting?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,442 Posts
Wow, that sounds frustrating.<br><br>
When we got really frustrated with the bedtime routine, we decided to switch it up to see if it helped. Instead of brushing teeth upstairs in the bathroom, we had them do it downstairs right after dinner (we eat kind of late). Then they'd go potty downstairs too. Then they were in the groove, and we could go upstairs and get them right into pajamas and into bed. It also helped to make bedtime more enjoyable while still being a relaxing, help-them-be-ready-to-fall-asleep time. One likes to read a little in bed, another likes a backrub, the other likes to listen to audiobooks for a little while. The idea was to find ways to help them unwind, so that it's easier for them to "flip the switch" to sleep, and that would make bedtime something almost to look forward to--something nice, rather than something to fight. It did take some experimenting.<br><br>
I hope you find a way to make it go more smoothly. Bedtime is my least favorite time of day. It's precisely the time of day when we parents here have the least energy and patience.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
Sledg's comments brought up another thought from me. Sometimes when there have been lots of power struggles over an issue, a way-out-of-routine "reset" helps. Because one night is so different from normal it sort of does a "re-boot" for everyone. For us that's generally a whole family or all kid sleepover in the living room. During the summer it might even be a backyard sleeping out. Anything that is different enough to be a total distraction from the frustrations of previous nights. Of course, then you have to go back and figure out what was causing the issues in the first place, but this sometimes gives you a fresh start.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
959 Posts
I love all the feedback about this issue. We really struggled when my oldest was this age. Some thoughts I have:<br><br>
1. Have something really special to look forward to at bedtime - i.e., a made=up story about a character that continues his/her adventures each night, a story about her day, a special song that she loves, etc. Then have that be the thing that you focus on as you're getting ready for bed (i.e., "I wonder what kind of adventures Fairy Jane is going to have tonight?!").<br><br>
2. Talkl about the importance of getting enough sleep. This works really well for my oldest because he likes to know "why" for just about everything. We talk about how your body can rest and grow during the night. How getting enough rest will make our day much more fun tomorrow.<br><br>
3. Can you make it a game with your two kiddos? We do a final hide and seek as our last ritual of the night before we're in bed nursing and telling a story. One child and a parent hides upstairs in our bedroom and the other child and parent try to find them. The kids love this and it gets us into bed in a very positive way that everyone enjoys.<br><br>
4. Is your dd competitive? You can have a pj race to see who can get their PJs on fastest.<br><br>
We also talk about dreams and how fun it is to imagine whatever you want to - flying above the clouds or swimming down under the sea with the sea creatures. I wonder if making it a special time for her might shift the energy.<br><br>
I totally agree with Sledg that it is the hardest time of day since we're totally beat. But I think if you can create some special rituals at bedtime, the energy might shift.<br><br>
Good luck. We've played around with nighttime routines for years and it's been a process coming to the point where we've found what works well. It'll definitely get better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,938 Posts
Any chance she still naps? If so, you might want to cut the nap out so she can get to bed earlier. My DD (3) will fall asleep easily by 8 with no nap, but if she sleeps even 20 minutes she goes to sleep much later . . .which in turn, makes her grumpy the next day.<br><br>
Also, she's so little . . .give yourself permission to be as flexible as possible. It's true at any age, but esp. true for the little ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the ideas. I am mulling over the many things that have been said.<br><br>
Tonight went much better. We went outside and collected fireflies in jars before bedtime, then brought them into the kids' room. They were excited about doing that so it was easy to get them to brush teeth, etc. beforehand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
925 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>famousmockngbrd</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11566088"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We can't put them to bed earlier because they just don't fall asleep.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
You can't make them fall asleep, you can only get them into bed. We have a set bedtime, but she doesn't have to go to sleep. She can read in her room until she's tired. She just needs to stay in her room.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>famousmockngbrd</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11566088"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I want to negotiate with them, because I want them to feel like they are listened to and respected. But they don't seem to get that negotiating does not equal getting their way, and sometimes there is no room for negotiating. I try to make that clear but I guess I'm not doing a very good job. I don't see myself as wishy washy, I've always thought I am firm when I need to be, but lately I feel like the kids seem to think if they just argue with us about it long enough, we'll give in. I don't know why they think that, because I don't think we give in to lengthy arguments. Maybe we do and we don't realize it? So then we end up in these crazy power struggles and we won't let DD change her pjs again, just on principle, which is not something I like to do.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
DD is getting better about dragging her feet too much at bedtime. The clock continues to run whether she's dragging her feet or not. She gets 1/2 hour from brushing her teeth until I leave her room. It's nice if we can get all the nice stuff in there before the 1/2 hour is up, but if we don't and she's been dragging her feet, we just try again the next night. Lately, she wants me to read to her and then she wants to read to me. Tonight, she almost didn't get to read to me because she was stalling on picking a book. At that point, I let her know how much time is remaining, and by now, she knows that when the time is up, the time is up. As she says, "I used up all my minutes". She always gets fair warning, so it's her choice if she wants to drag her feet and miss out on reading me a story. I love it as much as she does, but by giving in to the feet dragging, I could be up there until 10pm and then we'd both be cranky in the morning.<br><br>
I guess my point is that she doesn't have to jump when I say jump, but if she doesn't at least move things along, there's a tradeoff. The negotiating about which jammies, which story, what flavor toothpaste, etc. is fine, but lights out is lights out in our house. If DD dragged her feet too long with brushing her teeth, she might not have time for a story. That's a choice she makes. We didn't get to this point over night. It's been a long process of trial and error. Figuring out which things were worth controlling and sticking to a plan were probably the hardest parts.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top