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First, I have to say, Scubamama, you are seriously derailing my work today
I've literally spent hours reading the threads you're bumping (and don't even get me started on the Yahoo group messages).

I'm trying to understand what to do when you can't reach a mutually agreeable solution. This is the most recent example (it got long, sorry, I wanted to make sure I caught the pertinent details).

Last night we went to a local fair, which resulted in a later than usual bedtime. The agreement was (ha!) that when we got home, we would head straight to the bathroom to start getting ready for bed. My DD (almost 4) used several stall tactics to drag out the process, which we successfully negotiated, until finally we got to her room and her open closet door prompted her to ask to see the bag of hair we have in her memory box from her first haircut. This is where I drew the line, because I know from experience that this always results in hair everywhere that I simply did not have the time or energy to pick up (the baby was exhausted and on edge as well, and needed to go to bed too), and that aquiescing would only lead to additional requests for other things. (Which I completely understand, because of age, and overtiredness, and desire to fight sleep, I get that. But DD is one of those kids who really needs her sleep, and the later the night gets, the more hysterical she is before she finally crashes.) So I told her no, we could do the hair in the morning, that right now we needed to get teeth brushed (which she insists on doing before sleep) and book read and get to sleep.

Of course this was not agreeable to her, just as digging out the hair (that gets creepier every time I type it
) was not agreeable to me. I tried some other choices--brushing teeth first then books, books then teeth, Daddy participating, Daddy not participating, one book, two books, she gets to pick the books, I surprise her with the books, etc. Her only response was that I "MUST GET THE HAIR OUT RIGHT THIS MINUTE!" She was not amenable to negotiating a solution, and by the time we got to brushing teeth, I felt bad that I had "broken" her will on the subject, but I also feel like it's my job to protect her sleep (as well as the sleep of my 10 month old, who was waiting for me in the living room, fussing).

IMO, I coerced her into my agenda at bedtime, but when is doing so OK for her benefit (does that make sense?). Am I simply misunderstanding the principles here? And I just want to reiterate that it wasn't the hair itself that I had the problem with, it was the fact I know from past experience that giving in to the request leads to additional requests that then begin to lead us further from bedtime, rather than toward it. I would have happily dug out the darn hair had I known that afterward, she would have said, "OK, let's brush my teeth now." Alas, that's not how the bedtime stall works around here. And again, being a big sleep fighter myself, I get that.

What do you think? What could I have done differently? (And no, letting her stay up is not an option because she is such a sad, miserable mess when she doesn't get enough sleep, and she does not nap anymore, even in the car.)
 

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Melissa, Ah the "need to sleep" issues. I have them for myself. *I* am the one who needs to sleep. Ds can go and go and go, well beyond my capacity. I am 43, very close to 44, and he has tons more energy than I. So, our experience has been more from my own personal boundaries and limitations AND my awareness that ds is less able to negotiate for something other than what he is focused on when tired or hungry. Are you familiar with the HALT theory? Basically, I try to identify what are the underlying needs when there is a seeming conflict from that Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired perspective.

I also realize that our son needs some winding down/processing the events/reconnecting time when we come home from overstimulating outings. I have no expectation that he is ABLE to just go to sleep after enjoying the fascinating events like a fair, as much as I might want or believe that he *needs* to sleep. Just as I have a tough time winding down/processing/reconnecting when I have been overstimulated by some new idea that fascinates me, like Living Consensually, kwim?


It is hard to just turn off the brain. I find that I have some rituals that help me to do so, ds has developed some also. One of the most useful rituals for our son is to reconnect with me while doing something that brings fond memories and is soothing to both of us. We look at old baby photos together and we both enjoy the cuddle and resettling time. I imagine that your daughter may have been seeking something along this line. What I have found is that when I have an agenda of 'hurry', ds slows down to observe and discern 'what is mama all excited, upset, aggitated or worried about?'. My emotional reaction of 'hurry' seems to have the opposite effect than I desire.
What I have learned to do is to validate and connect with ds about what he is needing...... and then *he* can move on WITH me as a partner. When I am in my own world of "I need to do xyz", our son feels disconnected from me and seeks to reconnect. Anyway, this is what I have observed. But, actually doing this requires a Zen mind.


The ability to place my (self-talk) urgency on "mute" for the moments it takes to connect with ds's needs, is something that I have plenty of opportunity to practice everyday.
The tools of reflective listening, validation and empathy that Naomi Aldort espouses are powerful connecting tools. I am then more abled to discern the underlying needs and find a way to meet theirs, and mine. (perhaps it is because I have quieted my own mind and can think more creatively.) Perhaps, it would be that we place a sheet on the floor and she sit on it and play with the hair so that it is easy to clean up and you go to take care of the baby and come back. I find that a struggle takes up more time than connecting, in the short and long run, because the need doesn't go away, it becomes stronger when left unmet or thwarted. Mostly, I find that connecting with me, is the need, when I have another agenda running through my head.

HTH, Pat
 

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Alright, it's daunting to follow Pat
, but here's my take...

I see the need and not the surface-level request. So when it becomes clear to me what is really going on, I just bring it up to DS.

When the "attention antics" start up (as opposed to genuine exploration), I would ask, "Is it that you really want Mommy's attention right now, and you just can't wait anymore?"

Or the sleep aversion: "Is something about sleep making you feel nervous/upset/etc...?"

I generally get a "yes, mommy," and it opens the door for deeper conversation. I always get the sense that DS is tremendously relieved when we get to the bottom of what he's really saying.

In DS's case, he is often sometimes afraid that if he goes to sleep he will miss out on something, or that he won't know where everyone is when he wakes up. (Everyone being me, DH, my mother, and her 2 dogs...) Other times he's very eager to sleep but can't get is mind off something else that's bothering him. So we address those things as needed.
 
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