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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is a bit long and complicated, so I may leave bits out and then fill in later, but here goes.<br>
4 yo spirited ds shares a room with his older brother. 4 yo is very aggressive and often destructive when left on his own. He won't actually sleep in his room, so I put him to bed in my bed. I read him a couple of stories, lie down with him for a bit, bring him an apple and then turn out the light and leave. He usually goes to bed.<br>
but lately, it is "I dont want to sleep in here" I have let him go to his room, but it always ends in tears with him hurting one of his brothers. He is back and forth, running out of my room and hiding in his closet. This will go on for hours. I am worn out. I am supposed to be doing homework after he goes to bed but by the time he goes to bed I am exhausted.
 

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I always hesitate answering posts in this forum because I don't really know how GD I am. I'll tell you what I'd do and you can take it with a grain of salt.<br><br>
So it sounds like your ds is all about the power. Who has power and how can he get the power. He's controlling the situation by not following your requests and by invading the space of his brothers, not to mention the hurting. Hearing you say it goes on for hours indicates there are serious boundary issues going on. Of course you're tired. He needs to go to bed! You need your time.<br><br>
1. In a non-threatening time, starting in the morning, I'd work out the bedtime plan. Do a picture chart ("We do teeth, we put on PJ's, we read a story," etc...) or make a list he can grasp. Remind him what your expectations are. Make it serious but make it matter-of-fact, if that makes sense.<br><br>
I'd make sure he is really tired at night by making sure he is active enough during the day.<br><br>
2. Figure out the consequences if he doesn't stay put. Discuss these with him in a non-threatening, non-stressful time of day as you remind him about what's going to happen at bedtime.<br><br>
3. Work your plan. See how it goes.<br><br>
4. If it doesn't work, I'd not even flex an INCH. The consequences for not staying put/hitting/being disruptive would be swift and without emotion. For us, it would be sitting in a time out area. For us, the time out area is within sight of the goings-on of the family. He may need a totally quiet space. Time out's may not work for you. You know what his "currency" is.<br><br>
It sounds like consistancy is an issue for you. I know when I am not 100% consistant, they will exploit it and it makes life utter hell for me. I've stopped being afraid to act swiftly and without a lot of emotion once I've made my expectations clear. I don't barter. I don't argue. I disengage emotionally as much as I can until their behavior changes.<br><br>
Jesse
 

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I have a ds who is extremely strong willed and always willing to enter into a power struggle - gleefully even <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love"> How do I know this? Let's just say that dh is a little more authoritarian than I am. Getting into a power struggle at bed time with him would be a nightmare.<br><br>
I have three kids and no problems with bedtime. For the most part we do not currently have any problems, but we've had to deal with some a few times <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> .<br><br>
What I would do in this situation would depend on his age/understanding. If he's a young 4, I'd probably let him stay up. I'd tell him that I didn't want him to go to bed unless he was ready because I didn't want him to bother his brothers before he went to sleep. (I would discuss this with his brothers ahead of time so they don't feel like he's getting a special treatment). I would make it very clear that he was welcome to go to bed anytime, but he would have to stay in his bed. Then, I'd go about my studying, with lots of reminders if necessary that after bedtime we all have to be quiet and calm; that you need the tv off so you can study and so on. Lots of times kids feel like exciting stuff happens after they go to bed and they try to stay up to be a part of it. When they see its not all that exciting and have a chance to realize that they really are tired, lots of times they'll change their mind about bedtime. If he is an old 4 I would stress to him that I really need to study so that I can do well at school and for that I need him in bed. I actually told my 4yo that I don't need her to sleep, but I do need her upstairs and quiet and that she's welcome to play quietly or read if she isn't tired. In your situation I may amend that to say that they have to stay in their bed, but are welcome to play quietly or read and maybe get them a little light for those nights that they just don't feel like sleeping.<br><br>
If he was just too wound up and I didn't see a good end to the problem doing either of these things or just thought that there was no way in heck he would stay in his bed either way, I'd probably move in for a night or two. I'd sit and do my studying and offer reminders to keep the noise down and stay in bed because his brothers are trying to get some rest.<br><br>
I agree that a bedtime routine can work wonders in getting them into the bed frame of mind. And its always best to work out your plan during the day and not in the heat of the moment. Keep us updated <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Hmmm....this may not be it at all, but could your son be afraid of the dark? You did mention that you turn off the light and leave the room. If he is indeed afraid, maybe he is just bluffing the "macho" controlling behavior so as not to seem too babyish.<br><br>
Do you have a night light?<br><br>
My sister was afraid of the dark, and of what might be lurking under the bed and in the closet. My mom took a water sprayer and throroughly disinfected these spaces with "monster spray" with Meaghan so that she could get to sleep feeling safe. Of course, she also had a night light AND her bedroom door was cracked open so she could see the hall light, which was on until our parents went to bed.
 

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My dd (3) went through a little phase of this. She has her own room and lately she is either afraid of going in there because of monsters, or it's too dark, or she doesn't need to sleep, or she doesn't like theroom anymore. (her words.)<br><br>
I avoid statements like "Why are you afraid? or "There is nothing scary in your room" or "There are no monsters" or my favorite my mom used totell me: 'There is nothing in the dark here that wasn't there in the light." UGGGh! hooey- I say the monsters only come out in the dark, they're invisible in the daytime!<br>
I find these type of statements do not validate her fears- which I believe are real, even if monsters are not. Sometimes that is really all they need- to be believed.<br>
So, I lay her in bed, after settling in and lay with her. Then ask her a ton of gentle questions.<br>
"What do you think we could do to make your room a nicer place to be?" "Do you think a new blanket or pillow can help?" "What color would you like in your room?"<br>
A coulple of things happen here- I aknowledge her fear is real, I empower her to find the solutions she is comfy with, I change the subject from monsters to decorating, and talk her ear off until she falls asleep.<br>
One thing though, if she wants to redecorate- I have to hold up my end of the bargain. I plan on making new pillows for her, changing her sheets, putting up some of her coloring pages on the wall, etc.<br>
Maybe an approach like this can help.<br>
Also- she may have her own room, just like her sister- but we still co-sleep. Either dh or I lay down in their beds to help them fall asleep. Then we get up and leave them to their rest. Some may think that's not a great idea if they wake up and I'm not there- which happens with her little sister- but it doesn't last forever. my 3 yr old sleeps all night after I leave.<br>
Can your ds get his own room andmake it his own as well? Mybe that might be the next step.<br>
All my best
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Figure out the consequences if he doesn't stay put. Discuss these with him in a non-threatening, non-stressful time of day as you remind him about what's going to happen at bedtime.</td>
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I just wanted to ask about this one. What consequences could be had if they don't stay put? Not to start a debate, but I don't feel any type of punishment or threat of a consequence should be handed out regarding bedtime. I have found my girls are sensitive to any type of argument or debate around bedtime- in fact they flip out if we don't go to bed gently. I will admit I can blow my top when they just won't settle down. That's my issue I need to keep in check.<br>
i think it may be the most difficult time of day for a parent and child- especially if everyone is really tired. I like your idea of discussing it at a different time-when everyone is in a better mood and not cranky.
 

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I'm not the most GD person (but I do enjoy reading everyone's posts) so keep that in mind. I also have 4 kids so I'm familiar with trying to balancing everyone's needs.<br><br>
I personally would tell your son that since he is disrupting everyone else's need for rest that he will have to be the first person to sleep. He'll need to get an early start on bed so that he's already asleep when everyone else goes down for the night. Most kids consider it a privelege to stay up late with the grown-ups so why not let the kids who aren't being disruptive do just that?<br><br>
Yes, everyone else may be a bit sleepy for a few days because it'll probably take him a bit to adjust but at least he won't be hurting them at bedtime. He'll either catch on that it's better to stop harming others and go to bed at the regular time or he'll get used to being the first one to bed.<br><br>
You don't have to be punative about it. Just state it as fact...the current arragement isn't working and this is something we are going to try. You can still read to him, cuddle him, whatever you normally do. You'd just do it earlier than normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, there are great replies here.<br>
Lets see, he doesn't take a nap and hasnt taken one in years.<br>
I don't think it is a fear of the dark thing because I leave the doors open with the hall light on and the kitchen lights are on, so there is quite a bit of light in there.<br>
I don't know what consequence would work. If we did time out, then he would be getting attention(even a little) so that would reward him. It is a good idea, I just can't come up with a logical consequence.<br>
We do have definite consistency issues though!<br>
bellona, that is a good idea, but I know I wouldn't be able to pull it off. This little sweetie is a MAJOR button pusher, and will always try to push the limit a bit more. I used to sit in his room on a chair or sit in the hall and make sure he stayed in his bed. Every five seconds comes another question or another plea to leave the bed. This would go on for hours. It gets to the point where I get angry.<br>
He actually does start out as the first person to go to bed.<br>
I am thinking of investing in a very special bed for him, maybe one with a tent over it so he has his own private space.
 

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Your ds sounds a bit like mine, but mine doesn't have a sibling to pester. When he says he doesn't want to sleep in your room, would it work to just say "OK, I'll put you in your own bed after you fall asleep" then transfer him after his brother is settled down. For some reason, prefacing things with OK makes my ds more amenable to a not quite what he had in mind scenario.<br><br>
My ds doesn't go to sleep on his own or like to be alone, so I've always been able to simply say "I'm going to bed now" and ds comes along. If dh tries to come to bed at the same time, all hell breaks loose because ds teases dh the way it sounds like your ds does to his brother.<br><br>
Oh, just noticed your reply. The tent idea might be good because I know with my ds part of the problem is over stimulation and having trouble changing gears once he has gotten wound up.
 

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Does he have a sensitivity to wheat? If my soen eats wheat at night- you can forget about him NOT beign wound up.<br><br>
Do the kids share a bedtime? I put my kids to nap at the same time, and bed at the same time. But we have always cuddlesd to sleep- so now dd will sometimes go to bed by herself. Because it is a safe thing. There is never drama about it.<br><br>
Lets see, htere is so much I could say but I have to go........I agree bedtime isn't about discipline. But bedtime should be made to be a naturally inviting thing, not a power struggle. So, just start acting more confident about it, do your routine, get him his own"space" or whatever he needs for sleep, and create an inviting environment for the sleep to happen. I know my 3 year old dd really craves her own space sometimes, and that helps her fall asleep. I think the tent might help him not bother his brothers. i would also implement a "no play after______ time" kind of understood rule. I don't play with my kids if they decide to stay up. I do wathc them, but not play.I try to make it seem boring to stay up late. Like, all we do is boring stuff,see?
 

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I would first work on figuring out what time his body needs to go to sleep. It may be that you are tucking him in too early. Next I would consider allowing a quiet activity in bed for 30 min. or so to help him wind down. This works very well with our 5 yo son -- he will look at books, work puzzles, do his leappad, listen to story tapes, or his magnadoodle.... sometimes he falls asleep working. Other times we go up at tuck him in. He's usually less wound up at that point. He always listens to a tape as he falls asleep. Either a gentle story or a music tape.
 

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I think as long as there are kids in the room he wants to sleep in, its just too tempting to engage with the other kids and not go to sleep. You indicated he likes attention (that was why you did not want to use time out) so being in the room with his brothers is very full of opportunity for non-stop attention. There's nothing fun about going to sleep when you've got brothers you can poke and make screech and throw pillows at!<br><br>
If he wants to sleep in that room, is it possible to have his brothers sleep in your room? Or at least start out there, and maybe you can return them to their room when he's asleep. Although I think that probably he will lose his desire to go to sleep in that room and want to be in whatever room his brothers are in.<br><br>
How would this work, do you think: Each evening, he has one chance to sleep in the boys' bedroom. As soon as he is disruptive in there, he has lost his priviledge for that night and must sleep with you. Offer empathy when he protests ("I'm sorry you weren't able to stay in the room tonight. I know you really wanted to! Tomorrow night you can try again") but be firm. It might be kind of rough for a few nights until he sees that you are serious and for a few nights he will probably need a great deal of attention so you might want to choose a time when you will be able to commit to dealing with it for several hours over several days.
 

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We also have the basic understanding in our house that you don't have to go to sleep, but you do need to be in bed and not pestering anyone/horsing around. The boys can talk quietly with each other, read books, play with some small toys (which my 5 year old loves to tuck under his pillow). I'm guessing you've probably tried all that already though. LOL
 

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I'm wondering if perhaps he's reacting to other stuff going on right now - you're getting ready to move, right, and everyone must be stressed to the gills...<br><br>
Maybe you could get your boys all together and see if they can work out a solution? Are all three in the same room now, or two in one and one alone? If so, maybe that could be mixed up a bit. It would be interesting to here their ideas, though - you're needing some quiet time at night to get stuff done, how can they find a way to make that possible and keep everyone calm and safe?<br><br>
Dar
 

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Haven't been in your position, but I've learned a bit working with kindergarteners about how they often don't know that they can just ASK for something, or how to ask... so, here's a stab at it..<br><br>
You mentioned rewarding him with attention. So (maybe) you know what his motive is, so you know what his underlying issue is. Maybe he is seeking attention. Let him know that / give him the words to express himself properly. ("You want my attention.") Maybe its not that he wants to hurt his siblings or have an apple or whatever. MAYBE its that he wants your attention. Tell him that he needs to say, "mom, I need your attention right now," instead of all this unacceptable behavior. Maybe if he knows that all he has to do is ask?<br><br>
When he starts to act that way, remind him that that is not the way to ask for attention then ignore him (provided he's not causing serious injury - then removal followed by more ignoring) until he tries asking. Then really give it to him - pour it on, plus praise for asking so well. And let him talk about anything and spend a long time with him. Then shorten these times when he asks for it - just giving him enough to reassure him that if he asks appropriately he CAN get your attention easily and that its OK to want it.
 

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Have you thought that it might be too light for him to fall asleep? My girls need it really dark to fall asleep, but they also have no issues with darkness. I think discussing your bedtime expectations clearly will help, and writing a chart with pictures helps too. As for destruction at bedtime, if you wreck things, you don't get to play with them. Try to be really clear about the behavior you want to see, and not what you don't want to see. Stating things with a postive seems to work better for us, i.e. go to sleep instead of don't stay up. They never hear the don't, only the stay up part!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
you guys rock.<br>
last night was like a dream.<br>
DS and I made a picture in the afternoon. It had all the things we do at bedtime. It had a picture of jumping on the bed with an X on it. It had a picture of him coming out of my room with an X on it. Then he drew a picture of himself lying in bed and he circled it.<br>
He then wanted to draw a picture of what mom and dad do in grownup time. So, we drew pictures of dh and i reading, talking, having a snack, etc.<br>
One thing we have had some luck with is giving him three tickets. If he leaves his room for anything but the bathroom, he has to give us a ticket. When he is out of tickets, no more trips out. SO, we drew the tickets into the picture.<br>
We had a trouble free evening <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 
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