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Thread: Give her an inch!

  1. #1

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    Default Give her an inch!

    For ages we have been trying to work out how best to handle DD1 who is now 3. She is bright, active, talkative, imaginative etc and gee she knows how to push us. If we give just an inch, takes a mile If we give her choices she thinks she can have both, if we just say no, we get a tantrum

    For example if she wants to kiss and hug her little sister we will tell her just one quick kiss and hug (she always wants to at the worst time), she will just keep on hugging her ignoring our requests stop, in the end we have to drag her off kicking and screaming. Poor DD2 is often left screaming from the experience. Yes - we do offer her hugs etc when the timing is better, but it does not stop her from pushing it every other time.

    Bedtime is just awful, as some of you know it has not ever been the best, but it is really becoming an angry resentful time. We have the whole ritual thing down pat and she happily follows it most of the time, but once she is in bed for stories she thinks it is just play time and demands so many things. I am in such a dilemma of how to get her settled. If I stop reading due to her behaviour she just demands "READ!" I explain to her that I will read when she is lying down, quiet and not playing. The moment I start reading she is straight back to what she is doing. It gets to the point where I threaten to leave and normally I have to leave with her screaming at me. I have tried just reading whilst she mucks around, I only read a certain number of books and give her warnings about how many books are left before light out. The problem with that is she gets no wind down benefit from me reading and then starts demanding that I read more books. I have become less tolerant of her "READ!" demands and quickly stop all reading explaining to her that she has to ask nicely. If she keeps on demanding I leave.

    I hate leaving her, but I am at a loss at what to do, everything else seems like a reward to her. It is either keep on reading or stay whilst she plays (which I hate and feel that it is her controlling me). We have tried telling her about things she can do tomorrow if she goes to sleep nicely, that sometimes works. We have tried taking things of her or threatening her with the cancellation of an activity next day. We have not tried reward charts, I am not that comfortable with the concept and struggle to work out what a reward should be. Saying that though I will try it if others have had some success with them for sleep.

    I feel like a big bully standing over her, getting grumpy all the time. If we are just nice to her once during the whole process it all falls to pieces. Just talking to her about pictures in a book is enough for her to think she can muck around. I just want to cry, the sleep ritual is meant to be a nice and close time for us, not this awful thing that it has become.

    NB- it was like this before DD2 arrived, so that can't be blamed for it.


  2. #2

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    Hi Astrid
    I can sympathise with you. When DD2 was around the same age I had alot of issues with getting her to sleep. It wasn't an enjoyable experience for me either. Luckily with time it settled down.
    Perhaps one idea might be to act out how she needs to behave at bed time- find a time during the day that you can do this. You could possibly use a doll/teddy to role play as well. Together you could come up with consequences for the undesirable behaviour. Just before bedtime you could talk about what you decided during the day.
    It may not work at all, as different strategies work for each child, but i guess it's worth a go
    I hope bedtimes become a more relaxing and enjoyable experience for you both soon.
    Last edited by Patooties; July 10th, 2008 at 09:31 AM.

  3. #3
    paradise lost Guest

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    Oh My GOD do i sympathise (achieving naptime took me 2 hours today ).

    I find that a time limit is easier than a book limit. Don't read 3 books, read books until lights out and only read if she is lying still. Put a clock high up on her bedroom wall so she can SEE when lights out is coming.

    THen if she mucks about you stop reading. When she says "READ!" you say as usual "i'll read when you're lying with me to read". If she ****es about then gets upset because she had no books at bedtime you say "I'm sorry sweetie - but look, it's lights out and you spent all the reading time playing instead. Never mind, maybe tomorrow we'll have time for books instead of playing." and leave it at that. She will chuck a MASSIVE tantrum the first few times. Then she will realise that a)lights-out is on the clock and not arbitrarily set by mummy or daddy, and b) if she messes about the only person who suffers is her.

    This really works for me - "we cannot go to the park until your shoes are on, have stories until your teeth are brushed, go running until after you've napped, insert imperative and attractive motivation here!" is almost all i say these days!

    One thing i have managed to do to some extent is to stop MY negative associations with tantrums. She is entitled to her feelings, and i let her express them. Her expressing them in a tantrum is developmentally appropriate and so i try not to get too involved. A tantrum is not cause for me to repent or relent or reprieve, but it's her choice if she wants to express her anger that way. I get the impression both our kids are strong-willed and very smart (DD can READ a little now!) and it's very frustrating to be like that and still have every aspect of life so tightly (and necessarily!) controlled by someone else.

    Does your DD choose the stories she wants? DD gets to choose 3 stories for bedtime, so it's even more important to her that she gets to hear them, iykwim.

    Best of luck hun! It's a tough stage for you all!

    Bx

  4. #4

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    Oh jeez, sorry babe. It's still up and down around here too....

    In desperation I called the parent helpline. They suggested she doesn't feel secure enough to sleep (well they put it a bit better than that). We read one or two books in the lounge quietly then I take her off to bed. I give her a song and a book but I started (on advice from parentline) to sit in the room with her quietly and ignore her until she goes to sleep.

    That actually worked really well after a few nights she realized I was going to stay with her until she fell asleep. In fact once or twice I had to go to the loo and she didn't call me to come back and fell asleep fine.

    This has been working quite well (except for the past 2 nights), I haven't needed to be in there longer than 30 minutes, sometimes only 10. I also noted Christy does the sameish thing and mentioned that the time needed to settle decreases.

    DS has also learnt to be nice and quiet for me during this time so not to set her off. I think she starts to play up because she want to come out. Her stupid father would let her sit up and watch telly with him sometimes so I think she occasionally still pushes to see if thats gonna happen. WHICH ITS NOT. I feel she is well old enough at 2, to be able to understand what bedtime means and to learn that it isn't going to change. At the start I was not looking forward (at the end of an always long day) to have to sit there for an hour, but I changed my perspective at bit and it hasn't seemed so bad at all.
    Its a matter of working out her bedtime routine and sticking to it rigidly. I suppose you have to work out what works best for you. I have also recruited the teen DD to put DS to bed if it takes ages. I am now working on the stupid father scenario, he is only here 2 nights a week and manages to keep giving her inches (im gonna give him a frypan to the head soon), and its enough to ruin all my hard work.

    DD is still in a cot, and wont be coming out of it until she gets what bed is for....

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the support. I think we lack consistency in the smaller things. DH will start her off in bed, reads to her a book or 2 and then gets me to finish. Some nights though she wont let him read and she he gets me, by the looks it be need to not be flexible there.

    Arrghh - DD2 is needs my attention, I will get back to this.

  6. #6

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    Hi astrid, sorry it's a tough time for you. I guess DD1 is struggling with the new baby and new environment, different dynamics. as you are too probably. regarding you first request i was thinking that if another adult is around they could pick her up so to hug the baby or have the baby up high so you can be in charge of the time and when the embrace stops by walking away with her. you upsets at bedtime sound very comman. my suggestion is to explain the boundaries and stick with it. such as if you stop reading when she starts playing you do that. as in not discuss it again just go quiet look at the book and have a neutral expression as in not angry or annoyed. then when she quiets down to see what you are doing start reading again. watch for signs of her going to start playing and make a big deal of the page you are reading, oh look at this or wow i can see .... i think the main thing is to decide one thing and stick to it. kids love knowing the rules and boundaries and eventually she will decide it's not worth mucking around. i think this technique is less likely to make you feel you are bullying her as it is her choice if you read or not.
    hope you find peace soon, let me know what you think of these ideas as i have others if you don't feel comfortable with them.
    beckles

  7. #7

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    I can totally sympathise. We've been having trouble with DD on and off since DS came home. Before this she was the most perfect sleeper. For a few months, we had problems with bedtime, with consistency (and trust me, I lost the plot several times), limiting how long we spent in there, how many books we read etc eventually that settled and she now goes to bed just fine 99.9% of the time. The thing I felt helped to alleviate the stress of it all was to get DH to put her to bed and read her stories. She tended to try to push my buttons a lot more than his. I could also then concentrate on getting DS to sleep or bathing him, feeding, resettling etc rather than going back and forth between the two. It made things so much easier. She resisted it at first but now she's fine with him putting her to bed. I do it occasionally and that hasn't caused any problems. It is good for them to spend this time together too, she gets me all day but her daddy only for a few hours in the evening, so I think it's nice for them both.

    Then once that was sorted, we got the waking up in the middle of the night business (which she hadn't done since she was 9 months old). Only last week after months of this have I put my foot down and things are improving. If she gets out of her bed at night to come in with us, she is put straight back in her own bed - no matter how much she cries, how big a tantrum she throws, even if she wakes her brother up, she is put back to bed and one of us stays with her until she is asleep again. Things have improved already and we've only been using this tactic for a few nights, two of which have been pretty much undisturbed. I would not mind her sleeping with us occasionally but it was becoming every night and everyone's sleep was being disrupted, especially hers.

    This has almost done my head in and I've looked for answers everywhere - I am now fairly confident that this was her reacting to her brother's arrival and her testing the boundaries. At first I thought she may be scared or having bad dreams etc but now I'm convinced it is purely behavioural and that makes it so much easier to deal with.
    Last edited by Willow; July 19th, 2008 at 03:21 PM.

  8. #8

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    Looks as though we had been a bit slack keeping the routine we had tight. We were letting too much time go between bath and bed. That has now been reigned in and there has been much improvement. Still the odd crappy night.

    Arrgh - I am doomed not to post, crying bub to tend to again.

  9. #9

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    I don't have any solutions and it seems you're on the up anyway. I just had something to offer to take into your next 'battle of wills'. It's this: it's possible (and highly likely) that she does not see the compromises as 'rewards'. Kids are far more evolved than Skinner's rats and far more complex feelings and thoughts are racing through that 3 year old brain She wants to be understood and she likes having you near - that's what I see from your post. It's at odds with what you want to be doing with that time (rushing back to the little one) and this is possibly where the frustration is coming in. There's something she's communicating that is being missed in the cross-fire, and regularity may be a big part of it, so you're on your way already

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