Monday, January 9, 2012

Advice Needed: Bedtime

I'm calling out for advice because we are seriously at a loss of what to do. Here is the problem...

Lyla has been seriously fighting bed and nap times like she is fighting for her life.

I have no idea what happened. She used to be so good at going to bed. She is an awesome sleeper (and still is once she actually falls asleep). But for the past 4 weeks or so, Monster Lyla, comes alive any time she heads to bed or for a nap. She usually fights putting on pajama's because she knows that pj's mean bedtime, but I think this part is actually getting better. But once she is upstairs, all hell breaks loose. It typically goes something like this:

Lyla: No, I don't want to go to bed. I don't want to go to bed please. (Fake crying begins) Please, can I not go to bed?
Us: Sorry babe, it's bedtime and your body needs rest.
Lyla: (Panic arises as she wraps her arms around our neck, not wanting to let go) No please, I don't want to go to bed, please!
Us: I know sweetie. I'm sorry but it's just that time.
It kind of goes back and forth from there.
We set her down and quickly walk out so we can lock the door before she comes at it kicking and screaming.

This is a big problem. Besides the obvious that it is exhausting, frustring, etc., it is also a problem because she shares a room with Ruby. Sometimes Ruby will just eventually tune her out and fall asleep on her own. But it keeps Ruby up for longer than we would like, and she has to witness her sister turn into a crazy, thrashing toddler. For example: As I am typing all this, Lyla is upstairs screaming and crying to get out of her room and is KICKING the door really hard and then yelling "Ouch, my foot hurts!!!!". Well of course it does sweetie, you are forcefully pushing it into a wooden door. Duh! Regardless... This. Needs. To. Stop.

Things to consider:

  • We follow a bedtime routine. Dinner, bath, pajama's, brush teeth, family scriptures, family prayer, books. Occasionally if Lyla does a good job not complaining about getting her pj's on, we will let her play for X amount of time as a reward(usually 5-10 minutes).
  • She behaves this way regardless of whether or not she has taken a nap.
  • She sleeps around 11-12 hours a night.
  • We have tried the reward system (ie: if you do such a good job going to bed tonight, you will get ____ tomorrow.
  • We have tried explaining why she needs sleep.
  • We have explained that bed time and nap times are not consequences.
  • We usually go up a couple of times during her 30 minute tantrums and try to calm her down. 75% of the time she does better and is quiet in bed and eventually falls asleep.
  • Tonight we decided to try and not to say anything to her at all during her tantrum.
  • We've tried consequences if she fusses.
  • We have tried holding her, singing to her, rubbing her back for a little bit while she lays in bed but as soon as we leave, the tantrum starts back up.
Basically, I feel like we have tried everything. Am I missing something? Have we done something wrong? Please feel free to be brutally honest. I really am hoping this is just a phase but a month long phase makes me feel like we need to change something, do something more effective, and just find some way to stop this behavior so Nate and I have a peaceful evening rather than one filled of headaches and exhaustion.

If you're still reading this, do you have any advice? Anything? I'm feeling a little desperate here :)


Haley said...

So I don't really have any advice for you, seeing as Izzy's sleep is unpredictable. But I totally know how you feel. By the end of the day I'm so ready to have a quiet evening and then the whole evening is spent trying to coerce the little one to bed. Ugg.

One thing that has helped for us (and this sounds bizarre, I know) is every night Izzy starts with six fruit snacks on her dresser (that's her favorite snack). If she gets out of bed or screams and yells until we have to intervene, then she loses a fruit snack right then. In the morning, she gets the remaining fruit snacks (even before breakfast). It's helped to reward her for good behavior and help her to identify when certain behavior is unacceptable.

But again, there are better sleep experts out there, I'm sure. I can empathize with your frustration though. :) Good luck!

Emily said...

What time do you put her to bed? Have you tried moving the time? We have this problem every time Josie goes to bed after 8. As soon as we moved bedtime to 7:30 it stopped. It sounds so crazy that moving bed time even that little would do anything, but I swear it was amazing. We have to make sure and put her to bed BEFORE she is actually tired, even if it seems early. Once she really gets tired, it's too late and the claws come out. Sounds like she gets enough sleep, but maybe the timing is off? Also, I am a big believer that diet and sleep go hand in hand. Again, I can definitely tell if Josie has not had good things to eat. Maybe try sleep inducing foods or cut sugar? We also stressed from the beginning that once in bed, there is no getting out.
Josie is NOT allowed out of her bed.
I'm not sure really how you would enforce that now, but I'm sure being out of bed makes it harder for her to relax and feel tired. Anyway to at least get her to throw tantrum IN bed instead of at the door? I don't know. Just giving any thoughts I have!! I can tell you Josie started doing the same thing just after she turned 3, so maybe it's a 3 year old thing! Hope it's a phase or it gets better soon!!

April said...

Maybe try some special stuffed animal, doll, or blanket that she can only have when she goes to bed?! The other two suggestions are good!! Good luck!!!

Alex and Jane said...

I have no idea, kids are crazy. Hope that helps!

Judi said...

Robert and Brian had the same issue around the same age. With Robert we would just let hime cry and go crazy. We would go in and check on him once to make sure that he was okay and let him know that we weren't coming in anymore and that he would just need to cry it out. After a few weeks it ended.
Instead with was hell. Sorry for the language, but that is putting it mildly. We would sit on the floor next to his bed and read stories, hold his hand, sing songs, etc..This could go on for hours. Thank goodness he and Robert had seperate rooms. Then it went to him wanting us to lay in the bed next to him and "cuddle"...that didn't last but one or two nights...bad mistake, don't do it!
We finally ended up locking the door so he couldn't get out. We would do all of the above, but we gave of time limit of 30 minutes. We did start putting him to bed earlier so that by the time the "ritual" was done it was actually his real bed time. We would give him a hug and a kiss and say goodnight. The first couple of nights were a bit rough, but it worked. He asked us to put a water bottle in the room in case he got thirsty and started wanting a night light that he used until he was 11 yrs old. It seemed to help. I cut out the naps...realized that he really didn't like them and sometimes he would sleep to long and then bed time was really a nightmare.
We would have "down time" instead. He would have to go in his room, I would leave the door open, and he would have to stay on his bed. I let him have a few books and some stuffed animals...sometimes he would fall asleep other times he would just chill on the bed for a while.
I never let a nap go more than 1 hr once we changed to our new system. It seemed to work...we went on with the singing at night and a story for several years...I bet he was 8 or so when we stopped..but that is okay. It really was a nice way to end the day, for us to.
Do you have a seperate room where you can tell her that she is going to have to sleep in since she is keeping her sister awake? Some times that helps because they don't want to be in a room by themselves...every child is different. Good luck Kelly. xoxo

KatieBug said...

I dont really know what to say because some times things like this are just phases. But I know that with Owen, it's all in the approach. I'll say "Ok lets go night night!" And if he starts to freak out I say "Oh no! Come see me!" he'll run over to me and I'll lay with him. I'll ask him if he wants a "treat" (aka flinstone vitamin) he always says yes. I ask him if he can lay down in bed before he has his treat. I ask him if he would like a drink. If he wants something, like a stuffed animal or anything I give it to him. It sounds like I'm catering to him but I'm really not. Im allowing him to think he can have all these things if he lays down but they are only things I secretly approve of. Every few weeks we'll have him coming out of bed and asking for more juice or making random demands. I'll say no to his random wants and tell him he's so lucky because he can have juice. I dont know if it makes sense. I just try to make him feel like he's making the decisions and kind of making the decision to go to bed so he can get what he wants. good luck!

Emily said...

Kelly, I don't really feel qualified to give advice in this category since all kids are different and you definitely know Lyla better than anyone...but...when Rex started resisting bedtime (and making ridiculous requests until 10pm) we realized he was done napping. I know you said this routine happens regardless of the nap, but it's possible she's had the "tantrum before bedtime" routine going for so long it might take a few days of being really tired (no nap) to help her realize her body is really tired and she doesn't need to put up the fight.

I hope you get it figured out! Being able to have some quiet time at night is so essential to a Mom's sanity! Good luck!

Stacy said...

Can you move Ruby to another room temporarily until the phase is over? Annabelle does this at naptime a lot (luckily not bedtime... wonder if I'm in for that soon?) and I've been wondering if it's a sign that naptimes are coming to an end (like Emily said). I don't really have any other ideas for you, sorry! I think it's probably a phase that will pass, so stick to your guns and make her go! :)

Elise said...

I'm not qualified but I can tell you that sleeping & kids is not easy. Desmond doesn't like to sleep in his crib. He used to, but stopped. Good luck!

Doodle On Yoo said...

I second moving bedtime earlier. Most children are wired to go to bed between 6-730pm. I'd also just stop the daily nap. Raedin use to resist and the second I did both of those he started going down practically on his own. Most of my kids at won't point or another refused bedtime for several weeks. I special pillow or stuffed animal can help. Helping her say her own personal prayers might help her calm down, especially if she asks the Lord to help her sleep. Bribing with treats can have bad results, I've read a few studies recently on potty training and other milestone that people typically reward with sweets. The down side is that once you start, it is really hard to stop rewarding them. It is a natural step they should be making and the reward should be direct like: no more diapers, rested body, etc. Ruby might pick up on the bad behavior eventually, but I wouldn't be worried right now.

Another method we use with Afton: ignore. Don't lock the door, let her wander a little and pretend you can't see or hear her. Without talking to her, pick her up and calmly put her back in bed. You may have to do it a few times, but she'll figure out that it isn't a fun game and get bored. We've also done it where we turn all the lights out and act like we are going to bed ourselves. Makes it very boring and they realize nothing special happens once they are asleep. Some kids are just afraid they might miss out on something. Good luck!

Michael said...

One word and one word alone will solve your problems...Beatings! Whenever Jennifer wants to stay awake in bed talking, a quick beating shuts her up real fast. Sure there is about an hour of whimpering but it's better than talking.

Brooke said...

kelly, i promise you guys are not the first parents to ever experience this, which means you guys are not doing anything wrong. i've heard of so many kids eventually fighting naptime and/or bedtime (mine included)!! my only advice would be, don't give her the satisfaction of winning. if she's throwing a tantrum and you go in and talk to her, or soothe her, then she knows that her tantrum is getting her extra attention and she gets to stay up longer. at least that's what we discovered with tanner who was bascially doing the same thing. but no matter what, be consistent with what you do. we found once we stuck to a plan that we were happy with, our kiddos would eventually grow out of that very, very frustrating phase. good luck! bedtime problems can be so frustrating.

Scott and Collette said...

Ha! Sorry to laugh, but it's pretty funny. Lyla is soooo sweet. Every kid (and adult) acts like a monster sometimes :) Any-who, any time we experience any sort of sleep problem, I reference my FAVORITE book on the subject, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby". Love love love that book; I've used it with each child and have been happy with the help I've received. I'm hoping for an update post soon!