Please help me before someone gets killed.

28 Oct

I love my youngest daughter.

I repeat this mantra almost daily.

Her older sister is, for the most part, intelligent, sweet natured, helpful-only a little attitude thrown in. (and that’s mostly just lately.) Vivian listens, she stays in bed, rarely needs extra attention. She’s the easy one.

Rosalyn makes me want to eat my shoes on a regular basis.

When things were stressful in August, she started crawling into bed with me, which, all things considered, I didn’t deter. I figured she needed the extra attention because she’s more sensitive. Flash forward to now, a few months later, when everything is stable and normal again, and she’s STILL doing it. 3-4 times a night.

Out of no where I’ll hear “I need a hug and a buggy rug!” and since no one BUT Mom will do, I have to stumble out of bed, and return her.

Threats don’t help. Taking things away-escalates the screaming. Ignoring her-to begin with, I have trouble ignoring her (hello residual guilt of the post partum period!) and secondly, the girl can scream. Loudly, and forever. No one would get any sleep at all.

Problem is-currently I’m not getting any sleep and I feel like a zombie. I know that today I’m coming down with the cold I’ve been avoiding but sheer luck and eating ok, but I’m weak and it’s exploiting that.

I’m frustrated. I do not know how to stop this. She’s still in a toddler bed, and I’m wondering if maybe the bed is too small? It’s not a peeing issue-she’s finally down with all that. It’s not nightmares or terrors because she’s not upset at anything, not crying, she just wants me. And as flattering as that is, I’m exhausted. We can’t watch a TV show anymore without a visit.

I’m trying to just take her right back to bed, tuck her in and leave. But it doesn’t seem to work, and I’m freaking tired. She won’t let anyone in the house help her-she’ll go into hysterics instead, which is TONS of fun at 3am.

What am I doing wrong? She’s a very sensitive kid-she won’t wear anything with buttons, whips her PJ’s off a lot of the time-which is why I’m wondering about the bed size. But I also have a LARGE suspicion that she’s just playing me.

At the same time, she’s not even 4 year, and I don’t want her to be scared.


19 Responses to “Please help me before someone gets killed.”

  1. Jen October 28, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    We have an air mattress by the bed for Lucy. It’s no perfect solution, but at least she’s not waking anyone up when she comes in. Some nights she doesn’t use it, and if she’s clearly had a bad dream she’s allowed to wake us up.

  2. sweetsalty kate October 28, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    At this point, I’d resort to bribery. What does she love most in the world? Chocolate chips? Transformers? Movie passes? Draw up a little chart that you keep above her bed with the days of the week, and get happy-face stickers for each night that she stays in her own bed. Then with a certain number of happy faces accumulated, she earns the right to get a new little toy, or eat something she likes, or go somewhere special.

    Just a thought. We used transformers for… uuhhh… poops. It worked.

  3. bromac October 28, 2008 at 9:22 am #

    You really have to go with your gut and determine what her needs are. If you think she is going through some insecure phase, or might be having bad dreams, or scared of something, then I would go with Jen’s idea.

    However, if she is anything like my little manipulative genius, and is playing you, then you’re better off with a couple of days of no sleep and an end to the manipulation. With mine, we had to put up a gate across the door. It took a week or so of standing at the gate and screaming. One night she even got so mad she threw all of her toys over the gate. No toys were in the room the next night. She eventually realized she wasn’t going to get out of the room and there were no further problems. The only time we see her is if the cat gets in her bed, she abhors that.

    I did read about another option but it did not work for my daughter. It was called something along the lines of “erasing” the behavior. When she comes in, just pick her up, tell her she HAS to stay in her own bed. Put her back in, sans hug that she is looking for, no talking, and repeat as many times as needed for as many nights as needed.

    If the girls sleep in the same room, you have a bit more of a problem and I would suggest moving Vivian for a couple of nights if you try either of the above ideas.

  4. Eden October 28, 2008 at 9:34 am #

    One thing that works for me sometimes is just walking away & saying “Tell me when you’re done.” Another that works to get Zoe straightened up is I do whatever back at her. If she stomps her feet, I do. If she screeches, I screech. Eventually it starts being a little game w/ smiles (plus it gets out some frustration).

    As to the cause, I can’t be sure. I think some kids just do it. Zoe does it in waves. Usually what helps her is a slightly new routine, like instead of books, she listens to books on CD. Or she might fall asleep watching a movie in our bed. People might look down their noses at that idea but it gives some peace and if I knit and sit with her, we have some quiet time together.

  5. Marcy October 28, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    I was just rereading my Brazelton book… I don’t agree with everything he says, but he does emphasize that kids go out of control on purpose in order to find the limits that help them feel secure. Ros knows without a doubt that you love her. You can be firm about bedtime and staying in her bed any way you choose, and it should actually (eventually) help her sense of security.

    Makes sense to me, but I’m speaking from inexperience, as Amy is still in the crib.

    What others have said about the screaming being forever for a few nights and then being done, also makes sense.

    Hope y’all find something that works.

  6. nylonthread October 28, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    My 3.5-year-old has been doing the same thing for the past few months. We just stopped it last week by suggesting that he sleep in his almost-6-year-old sister’s full-size bed with her. They’re both as happy as can be about it; but of course, we’ll have to get him back in his own bed soon enough. I seriously think he might need a bigger bed, as he’s in the toddler size one right now, too. I’m going to start putting feelers out for twin-size beds.

  7. Mad October 28, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    We’re hippy-dippies. Miss M goes to bed in her own bed but if she wakes in the night she’s allowed to climb in with us. She’s always been excessively fearful and attached so that’s how we choose to handle the issue for now. Giving in has actually saved my sanity and given me more sleep than I would’ve otherwise had.

  8. Jennifer October 28, 2008 at 10:27 am #

    Have you asked her why she is getting into bed with you? Sometimes they can be very open and aware of their own behavior.

    Also, the charting is a good idea. Pair it with a few other things though that you want to work on – brushing teeth, making her bed, putting dirty clothes into the basket etc. Just so it doesn’t seem that you’re picking on one thing. Do something similar for V so it also doesn’t seem like you’re picking on her.

  9. theclevermom October 28, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    You definitely need to find out what she’s really looking for. The thing is, even when kids are being horribly manipulative, they are doing it to achieve some sort of emotional goal. If she is seeking to control you and the sleep situation, there is something in her little life that she feels she’s lacking control of, that she feels insecure about, and she needs to gain some control over her life by doing this.

    It obviously brings her comfort, this being very close to you. She NEEDS you right now for some reason. Maybe she knows why, maybe she doesn’t. But, I will guarantee that you won’t be able to help her sleep better and more securely until you get to the bottom of it.

    Talk to her. Ask her questions about the circumstances around her getting out of bed, of needing you. See if you can work together to find a better solution to the problem.

    If sleeping with you temporarily is out, definitely get some sort of bedding you can put next to your bed. Let her go sleep there as many times and for however long she needs to. I promise she won’t still be doing it when she’s ready to start dating!

  10. thordora October 28, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    If she was Vivian, then communicating wouldn’t be an issue. But she’s incredibly hard to get anything out of, and that’s compunded by her inability to speak clearly half the time…I’ve asked what she needs, and it’s just “a hug”

    So you’re right, she needs me. But the problem is, nothing is ever enough. If she could crawl back in the womb, MAYBE she’d be happy. I try to give her as much time and energy as Vivian, but she just wants more.

    Frankly, if the bed was bigger, I really wouldn’t care. But she SNORES and ELBOWS and twitches. It’s like sleeping with a dog.

  11. Ally October 28, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Do you talk about it at night when it is happening, or during the day when everyone is awake and not in the moment? Since she seems to be looking for reassurance or emotional connection (at least, that’s what “a hug” means to Jamie), then I would ask her some leading yes/no questions, “Are you sad? Are you angry? Did you have a bad dream? Are you scared?” to see if you can get her to hone in on her feelings that way. Then perhaps you can come up with a solution together to deal with it. For example, if she’s waking up and is afraid because it is dark, add another night light (real life example for us). Or if she needs to see you for reassurance, what if she calls for you and you come in for a brief hug and kiss and then you go back to your room while she stays in hers?

    I am more of a hard ass at bed time, and am more flexible in the middle of the night. But Jamie has always come to bed with us in the middle of the night – even getting him to start in his own room was a victory at about 2 or so, and has naturally come later and later as he has gotten older, sometimes staying in bed all night or not coming in until an hour before it’s time to wake up. However, we have a king-sized bed and enough room for a pillow in between us that is reserved for him, and we’ve had to lay down hard and fast rules about everyone staying on their own pillow otherwise I’ll wake up with him on top of me!

  12. C.Mirro October 28, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    Our youngest {almost 3.5}just stopped doing this.Finally!
    We left a radio on very low in his bedroom.So that if he woke up through the night it wouldn’t be soooo quiet.{7/10 he would drift back to sleep}
    We also have a 3/4 mattress on the floor by our bed,for those just in case nights.
    He also would only want me,hubby wouldn’t do!Screams till puking would result if I wasn’t RIGHT THERE! Hang in there.It’s more common than you think,and it will go away{eventually; )

  13. Gabriel... October 28, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

    Sounds like you need to spend less time reasoning with your kids and more time watching Nanny 911. Or hockey.

  14. nessa October 28, 2008 at 6:21 pm #

    Ava went through that at 4. Emma is now going through that at 4. I think it’s just something about being 4. I’ve tried everything. But when she is pissed… she is PISSED and nothing calms her down. Jesus, when Ava went through it, she would cry so hard that she would vomit. I still don’t handle it well so I have nothing to offer except my sincere understanding.

  15. Missy October 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    Ya know, I think some kids are just more needy than others. They need security, a warm body next to them.

    Another hippie dippie, here. I’m embarrassed to say that my 7 YO still sleeps with me most nights. I guess I finally just came to the conclusion that some day HE will be the one embarrassed by it… The day is coming soon. He’s in second grade and he sometimes has sleepovers.

    But here’s my suggestion. Get her a bigger bed. Lay down with her in her bed until she falls asleep. Then get up and get in your own bed. When I’ve totally had it with Mark throwing his leg over me, or I really need a good nights sleep, this is what I do. It works. Of course, sometimes *I* fall asleep in his bed and wake up in the middle of the night stiff and cramped.

    I know. I’m no help at all.

  16. crazymumma October 28, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    You must have the twin of MY youngest daughter. If she is also a Scorpio I will jump up and down and say SEE! its the birth sign. Or some answer or another.

    I gave up long ago with the sleeping thing. As to buttons and tags and how things must be. Set aside extra time in the morings so her universe will be ordered the way she needs it ordered.

  17. thordora October 29, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    She’s a whiny Pisces.

    Bribery and threats worked last night. We’ll see about tonight. She claims “bad dreams” but I’m 90% sure she’s making that up.

  18. Hannah October 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    Isaac came in with us at some point every night until he was two. Then I got pregnant and knew I’d have to break the habit, because I was planning on co-sleeping with the new baby and our bed isn’t that big. So we went with the air mattress on the floor by my side of the bed. It worked really well. He would creep in quietly, I’d reach down and tuck him in, sometimes I’d hold his hand for a few minutes. We all got more sleep that way. We made a huge deal out of it the first time he slept in his room all night, and gradually he grew out of the need to come in with us. It took a long time though – and the air mattress is still there in case of nightmares.

    I sympathise, this is a tricky one. Good luck.

  19. Helen October 30, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Thordora, have you ever heard about the Ferber method? It was meant to help babies to sleep through the night, but it can apply to preschoolers as well. Some of the suggestions people wrote above sound very Ferber-like in nature.

    The theory behind it is this: You make it a point not to give too much affection or attention in the middle of the night. She shouldn’t think that she can get affection when you all should be sleeping. If you are calm and firm about putting her back to bed and not cuddling excessively, over time she will realize that if she wants your hugs, she will only get them during the waking hours.

    Of course, the whole Ferber method is a lot more complicated than that, but that probably only applies to babies (e.g., letting them cry for 5 minutes and then checking in on them, then 10, then 15…). Good luck. I know it’s a real pain!

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