Monday, April 20, 2009

Parenting Advice...anyone anyone?

Hi All! OK, so I am in desperate need. Desperate need of a 3 year old to go to bed in a decent manner. So far tonight, it has been 45 minutes of screaming and crying. This is every single night. I dread bed time. I seriously cannot handle this and have no clue what to do. Here is the story...

Addison used to go to bed good. Then there came a time when he asked us to lay with him in bed for 5 minutes. So we did that...5 minutes then we were ok to leave and he would go to sleep. Over time the 5 minutes turned to us laying with him til he fell asleep otherwise he would scream and cry and keep coming out of bed. So, I figured I could lay with him for 10-15 minutes to have the rest of the night in peace and quiet. Well that 10-15 minutes starting turning into 20-30 minutes and longer and I couldn't do that. We have 2 other kids that need attending to as well and when Wes is working nights I have to get all 3 of them to bed on my own. Then he started coming into our bedroom in the middle of the night, and as per Wes' moms suggestion we made him a "little bed" on the floor beside our bed. This worked super for a while...he would wake up, then bring his pillow to the floor in our room and lay down. Easy breezy, I didn't even have to get out of bed and he was back to sleep. Then a few weeks ago, instead of wanting to fight with him to go to bed in his room, we let him go straight to bed in the "little bed." Wow, this was so easy...goodnight, kisses, hugs and asleep. And we put him to bed there...he wants us to lay with him on our bed when he goes to sleep. When we don't...he screams, cries, gets out of bed, says he has to pee, says he has to poop, goes and sits on the toilet...anything but go to sleep. He now has requested all the lights on in all the rooms near in the bedroom, in our bathroom and in the hallway. If we do not leave them on he gets up and turns them on. We have threatened him with going back to his "McQueen bed" and have put him back in there several nights with him only to be quiet and sneak back to sleep on the floor in our room, and we leave him because he has put himself to sleep. We have even tried to lock the door so he can't come out of his room, but I can't keep the door locked for too long without feeling terrible.

I seriously don't know what to do, as I still hear him screaming upstairs. I have never ever been so frustrated as I am at this point. I recognize that I have let him push us and we give in and he just takes and takes. But I can't handle it anymore. He sometimes says "he is scared." Is he scared to be alone? We have tried to put a night light in his room and he just pulls it out and tosses it. Then, there is the whole nap issue...I know if he has a nap in the afternoon he does NOT go to bed well at all, or else he ends up going to bed at 10pm. But he did not have a nap today, and he is still up freaking out and it has been over an hour.

So, any advice?


ET @ Titus2:3-5 said...

Okay, it's long...

This situation did not develop in one night, and it will not be resolved in one night. The best place to start is by asking yourself who is in control in your home. If it is not you, you need to take that control back. Children who rule in their homes grow into teens with an attitude of entitlement who grow into adults with no sense of personal responsibility (not all, but you get my drift).

#1 - Shauna, you need to get tough! Say what you mean, mean what you say, and no matter what you must NEVER EVER back down and change your mind. If you tell Addison he needs to go to bed in his McQueen bed, stick to it (no matter how hard, painful, etc.). Though it is difficult to listen to your son scream as though he is on fire, you need to know that there will be less damage done by some "tough love" parenting than will be done by allowing him to manipulate you. Trust me - three-year-olds are expert manipulators.

#2 - This is going to take a lot of energy, but only for a period of time. Once you are through this period, it will save you a lot of energy in the long run. Say this mantra to yourself every night when it is hard, "Smaller sooner is not as good as bigger later." The small saving grace of getting him to stop screaming tonight is NOT - repeat after me - it is NOT better than the long term benefit of fixing this problem.

#3 - Here is my plan (warning, you will not like it): First, talk to Addison, tell him that you are not happy and that the bedtime situation is not good for anyone, tell him that it is going to change tonight; be clear and specific - you are a big boy and you are going to sleep in your own bed from now on. Decide now what your bedtime routine will be, and do not change it (for example, prayers, one song, one story, hug and kiss, good-night, door closed). Don't give him an extra story if he asks nice. :) Plan ahead for the typical excuses (have a small cup of water ready, make sure he goes to the bathroom, have a night light plugged in - do all this before bedtime). From that moment on (the good-night), you cannot give him any attention. If he comes out, you put him back (don't make eye contact, say simply "it's bedtime," put him in his bed, walk away). If he is screaming but not coming out, put on your iPod to block the sound.

#4 - Be prepared for about 2 hours of hard work for a few nights. Tell yourself now that you know this will be hard, that you're ready for it, that your will is stronger than that of a three-year-old, that you are the parent and you will not allow a toddler to control your home. Stick to it! Be strong! If your evening is melting down and you find yourself ready to cave in, call someone who will encourage you to stick to it (call me, lol).

I want you to know that I am giving you this "super nanny" style solution because it works. I can say it works because I have used it. I'm not giving this advice as a perfect mom who's kids are fabulous, but as an experienced mom who has screwed up more times than I can count. And two (not one, but two) of my screw-up mistakes were fixed this way.

You need good rest to grow that baby, and you need kids who are resting well once you're up nights nursing that baby. I assure you, if you start this tomorrow, by next Monday night you will be resting peacefully at this time.

Just a side note: after this is all done and he's been sleeping so well in his own bed for months, and your sweet boy asks you to lay down with him for 5 minutes or asks if he can sleep beside your bed, as much as you want to reward his good behaviour you need to say NO! Tell him how proud you are of his good sleep habits and that you won't allow anything to ruin them, but that you'd like to have some special time with him another way (perhaps tomorrow afternoon, playing a video game together). Even after a year, giving in just once can get those old, bad habits going again. Resist the urge...

By the way, did you know that you are a super mom?! It's moms who really love their kids that get suckered in by the extra snuggle time. It's moms whose hearts are wrapped up in their children that feel broken when their children cry and scream and sob. The tough thing is to resist those natural good mom instincts in order to train our children. So put your good mom aside for a week and embrace your new personality - tough as nails mom.

By the way, through all of this, keep on praying! It's a good idea to even pray with Addison that God will help him to develop healthy sleep habits. His power is way bigger than super nanny.

Love you bunches...

The Beys said...

Tyler put it so well, I won't bother re-stating, I definitely agree with her advice. It'll be REALLY HARD but SO worth it!!! You're an EXCELLENT mom Shauna and I know you'll come through this challenge with flying colours! I'll be praying for you:)

Christine @ becomingp31 said...

I AGREE!!! It will be super hard, but if that is what is best for your family then you need to tough it out for a few days!

I will pray for you!! :)