I was, and am still, having similar issues with my little one. Ours is a little more involved with behavioral acting outbut I thought I would send you the responses I received from Mamasource as well as my postings. Hope they help. Good luck.
Uncooperative 4-year old having fits at bedtime & waketime
From: C. M Date: Wed. Apr. 09, 2008
I have a four-year old spit fire of a little girl. She is funny and extremely spirited. We have been having behavioral problems, I want to say since we moved to our new home last August. It started out with peeing her pants and bed after she was potty trained for a few months. We had her tested and she does not appear to have any physical issues. We have gone back to pull ups at night and deal with the accidents during the day. She doesn't have accidents every day and rarely, if ever, at day care. It's almost always with my husband and myself and is blatant refusal to go. My doctor said she senses anxiety in her and wants to get her evaluated. We are happy to get the eval. done. We want to make sure she will be up for kindergarten and won't be too overwhelmed, she will just be five when school starts and is maybe too young yet. She also got a late start with hearing due to constant earaches and subsequent tubes. She has a difficult time sitting still, attention span is lacking.
The latest issue is her bedtime and waketime routine. She doesn't fall asleep until about 11 p.m. and when we try to wake her it takes two of us about an hour. She kicks and whines and fights the whole way. We don't have the time for that in the morning and it is taking its toll on both of us. Every morning I leave the house upset, sometimes with her in tears. My husband and I are usually both late for work and frazzled by the time we get there, we both have decent commutes, his one hour, mine thrity minutes. Then before you know it it's night time and it's the bedtime battle all over again. I have taken advice from mamasource contributors and kept her up later and that seems to help, but then in the morning she's even more tired. We are at our witts end and really want to make life easier for all of us. Look forward to hearing what you have to say. Thank you.
A little about me:
Married mother of one four-year old. Work full time, go to school part time at night, have a mother with colorectal cancer.
Thank you to everyone who lent a kind and helpful word, I am very grateful for Mamasource.
We decided to take our daughter to a Pediatric Behavioral Clinic where a team of four doctors evaluated the three of us in four sessions. Today we went to get the results. They concluded that our daughter is behind in her fine-motor skills. That she acts more like a 3-4 year old, if that, than a 4-5 year old. They said she is definitely not ready for kindergarten, nor organized team sports. She doesn't have good pencil holding skills, she is still difficult to understand and her attention span is incredibly short. They said that her anxiety level is due to her inability to concentrate and to actually do the task at hand, therefore she gets into mischief in order to distract us away from the task at hand. They have suggested we have her evaluated at our public school and try to get her involved in speech pathology and other therapy through a pre-school program.
We were also told that potty accidents are very common in kids with short attention spans and that it is not her fault.
It was a relief to hear this, my husband and I feel that we can finally lay off with the understanding that we are not doing her a disservice. She is not at the level we thought she was and putting any pressure on her is only going to make things worse. We need to treat her at her level and give her the attention she needs, as well as encourage and celebrate all the things she is good at to help build her self esteem.
We are hopeful that with dedication, empathy, love and help from the school system our little girl will one day be ready to take on tasks with confidence and little anxiety...and stay dry at night :)
Thanks again for all your input.
Heather F Date: Fri. Apr. 11, 2008
I have 4 young children, and one of them has had 'fits' like that too - waking up screaming every morning for months on end, & going to bed was a nightmare. Especially when she was 3 and 4, it is much better now (she's 5). It really added a lot of tension to our lives. But your daughter sounds like maybe she just wants more time from you? Eleven at night is too late. I had to solve the problem by laying down with her (at 7:30 or 8) til she fell asleep, or holding her hand in the dark while she fell asleep - she just seemed to need more than the average child - more contact. Also, I allowed her to sleep in my bed ONLY IF she fell asleep in her own bed, and if she woke up at night, she was always, and still is always, welcome to sleep in our bed. Honestly, it was really really REALLY tough at times to be that connected to her, during the only time I had to myself, and my husband and I had to ourselves - but she really seemed to need it, and she has THANKFULLY grown out of it. And grown out of it with grace. I really wish you good luck. It was so hard to live through, and I feel so relieved to be on the other side of that.
From: Amy F Date: Thu. Apr. 10, 2008
Is she still napping at all during the day? i find that with my 4 year old girl, if she even falls asleep for 5-10 minutes during the day that it takes her FOREVER to fall asleep at night. The first place I would start would be her bedtime. 11pm is way too late for a toddler to go to sleep. i would think that 8:30 is the latest they should be asleep by. The next thing I would suggest, if you don't already have it, is put a routine in place for bedtime and awake time. The majority of kids THRIVE on routine. If you have a regular bedtime routine she may start falling asleep sooner. We do bathtime at about 6:55 and she is in bed by 7:15-7:20 and then i read her 1 book. i leave a nightlight on and the light in her fishtank on so she has enough light to look at books while she is in her bed.
Also, pay attention to what she is eating before bedtime, maybe she is getting too much sugar that is keeping her up till 11pm. Also, you may want to talk to you doctor about her melatonin levels. Some kids don't produce enough and thus they aren't sleepy at night so they stay up. There are some safe herbs out there that can help, Chammomile, catnip (I know, sounds weird but it is supposed to help). but if she is checked by your doc and has a low level of melatonin then she can take actuial melatonin that will help her sleep.
Hope some of these suggestions help. Good luck!
Diane B Date: Thu. Apr. 10, 2008
Wow - this is tough. It may be a phase that will go away on its own, but in the meantime, you're all frazzled. I think the fact that she is exhausted tells you the main problem. There is no way a kid that age can sleep just 8 hours (11 to 7?) and be able to function. Can you identify what is keeping her from sleeping? Some kids are sensitive to stimuli - maybe something that provides "white noise" like a small fan or one of those air filters would block out any random house noises that keep her up. When are you and your husband going to bed? I know that working parents use the evenings for dishes and laundry and other chores, but would it help if everyone went to bed earlier with a calming pre-bed routine, and then you two just got up earlier if necessary, without waking her, to do some chores? Obviously you can't go to bed at 7 PM but maybe if the house got quieter and darker earlier than 11 PM, it would settle her down.
I would definitely not focus on kindergarten right now - that adds to your anxiety. If she's ready, fine. If not, wait a year. Do NOT let anyone pressure you into it by discussing her academic ability - kindergarten readiness is never about intellect, and it's all about social and emotional issues.
Is there any reason you can't keep her in a pull up during the day? At 4, the other kids won't really notice, will they? The day care provider can help you decide this.
I think the main thing is to try to eliminate the battles - it could be a power struggle, an emotional phase, a developmental milestone, anything. An evaluation is a good idea which may give you some insight. Otherwise you
Does she still have earaches or something similar going on? That can make lying down a problem. If she has focus issues, try Reliv's nutritional product for kids. It has DHA as well as wonderful nutrition - DHA is the "brain food" that helps with attention span as well as brain development. By supporting the immune system, it can help with ear issues, any sinus stuff that may go on and make night-time breathing a problem, and it just keeps the kid healthier in general - reduce or eliminate colds, etc. It's a fantastic company with a great humanitarian mission as well as patented food products - There are only about 13 patents in the US for food, and Reliv has 6 of them - so there is NOTHING out there like them! I can connect you with tons of parents whose kids have improved once they got on Reliv - just hear their stories and you'll have some hope!
The adult products are great for general health and disease prevention but also might be a great benefit for your mother who has colorectal cancer. One Reliv product also helps cut off blood supply to abnormal cells.
Whatever you do, the battles have to stop so she can calm down and get to sleep and face the day. And you two need a break. I understand that the battles are designed to get everyone out of the house on time, and you can't just sit around and let her sleep until she is good and ready to wake up. But obviously she is very tired and not functioning well. Good luck and feel free to write back!
Anissa G Date: Thu. Apr. 10, 2008
keep her sugar intake to a bare minimum after dinner. keep a good bedtime routine and Melatonin is a godsend.. also keep the house a quiet as you can after 7pm. Shut off ALL TV at dinnertime sometimes they have a hardtime to unwind and noise or flashing light( even tv) will stimulate then enough to keep thier little brains just going. It has all Helped Emensly with mr 4yr old daughter. and has she had a behavior evaluation? get a refferal from your peditrician... maybe she has anxiety? I'm waiting for an evaluation here can't wait.
Maureen B Date: Thu. Apr. 10, 2008
I am unsure of why you are keeping her up late, you mention that you took that advice from another mamasourcer? Do you have trouble with her bedtime routine? Maybe trying out a new routine would work? Children at age four need between 10-12 hours of sleep at night. I think she will not get up because she is so overtired. Have you tried starting her bedtime routine early, like at 6:00 or 6:30, that way she is asleep by 8:00, than you might have a better chance of waking her because she will be close to getting her full amount of sleep. I work as a preschool teacher of 3 and 4 year olds, have my own 3 year old, and have seen the effects of sleep deprevation first hand. If it works for your schedule, I would try putting her down early, so she can get in her 10+ hours of sleep each night. Godd luck and I hope everything works out.
Erin C Date: Thu. Apr. 10, 2008
I know it sounds contrary to what you would think, but my son and daughter both always sleep better when they go to bed earlier. They are both always in bed by 7 p.m. I discovered when my son was just a few months old that this works because I put him to bed a little early one night and he slept through the night for the first time! Worked ever since. Any nights that he has to go to bed later for any reason, he usually wakes up earlier in the morning and is cranky all day. It is tough when you are working, but it is worth the peace to get them to sleep earlier! There are some days it feels like I barely got home and we are already starting bedtime.
Try to keep your bedtime routine consistent and don't argue. I know it is hard -- I am dealing with a resistant four year old right now too. I won't let myself get into it with him though. When he starts to act up, whine, etc. I say one (nothing else, just one), if it continues I say two, etc. He knows now that if I get to three there is a consequence which is normally a time out but sometimes (like at bedtime) when I get to two I will state what the consequence will be when I get to three and that usually stops it. For example, after I say two: "If I have to say three, you go to bed right this minute without stories." Our favorite part of the day is bedtime stories and his acting up time is usually in the bathroom just before bed (potty, teeth brushing, etc.) so that consequence usually works like a charm. If you do say three though you have to stick with the consequence whether you want to or not or it will never work again.
Another line that works really well on my son to stop the whining: "You must be really tired. You only sound like that when you are tired. Do you need to go to bed now?" Stops the whining in a pinch. And now when he gets hurt or is whining for any reason, he comes to me and says "I need to go to bed!"
Good luck and I share your pain!
What can I do next?
C. F Date: Wed. Apr. 09, 2008
The best resource I have ever read on sleep issues is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I'm a mom of 6, soon to 7, and I've used this book over and over for various sleep issues. It saved my sanity a few times. In fact, they should start paying me royalties since I recommend it so much! One key thing is that keeping her up later in an effort to make her fall asleep better, though it's what common sense tells us, actually often has the opposite effect. He says to actually make their bedtime earlier, and you'll have better success. The more tired they get, the harder time they have falling asleep. Give this book a read -- he walks you step by step through the whole process of training and retraining. Good luck. I know how hard it is to be sleep-deprived and to deal with children who are as well. Hang in there!
Pam R Date: Wed. Apr. 09, 2008
My four yr old son also has trouble at bedtime. The one thing I've found is that the nights when he's in bed by 7, he does great...no fighting, no tears, just straight to sleep. The later we are, the worse he is. Maybe you could try to have dinner by six and in bed by 7? The nightime routine is so hard when your rushing in the door from work and trying to figure out dinner.
Now the morning I have no advice for you on, I wish I had that problem!
Charlene P Date: Wed. Apr. 09, 2008
Is she napping at daycare? If so, you should find out if she can just have quiet time at a table: coloring, reading,drawing, etc... instead of sleeping. That may make her more tired for night time. When she is up until 11 pm at night, what are her activities until she does fall asleep? Is she laying quietly on her bed, listening to some nighttime lullabies or quietly looking at books vs. out of her bed w/ bright lights on and actively moving around? I have never tried it with my children or myself, but I hear warm milk before bed might help (just make sure you brush her teeth after the milk). And on weekends, you should try to continue with similar bedtime routines and similar bed time or else her body will adjust to staying up late during the week if she is allowed to stay up late on the weekends. Good luck. I feel your pain and frustration as I also work full-time and try to get a 3-yo and a 5-yo out the door by 7 am.