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  1. #1
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    Default At wits end: need ideas for 4 year old night problem

    Hi all.

    We are having big problems with our four year girl at night.

    She is in the horrible habit of waking up and choosing to perform a big, loud, FAKE cry designed to wake the household (we have a 19 month old too) and make some adult come running to her “or else”.

    The “or else” is that she will continue to become louder and louder and louder so much so that not only is the 19 month old awake but she becomes distressed and cries and is then very difficult to settle. These episodes regularly wake us all between 1 and 3 hours depending on how bad it is.

    The most frustrating part of all this is that NOTHING seems to work.

    She seems to care about NOTHING.

    We have used rewards charts – fair and sensible ones with real rewards. These have been the only thing that has ever worked at all (temporarily) but now they seem to have lost all power.

    We have tried removal of nice events (such as going roller skating which she loves) but she barely cares at all. A raised eyebrow for a second and that’s about it.

    We have tried removal of favourite toys – but the care factor is zero.

    She gets no tv on the day after a ‘night episode’. She doesn’t like it but it’s not enough to deter her.

    Please realize she is in no way over-indulged and never has been. Our dd is a very bright and intelligent girl who, by day, is quite pleasant and fairly well behaved.

    I don’t give treat foods on a daily basis so I can’t remove anything like that. It isn’t there to remove.

    So in short, our otherwise very good and sweet girl is a monster at night… and does not care what reward you offer or what you threaten to remove.

    I am clean out of ideas. And the wakings continue. We are so tired. We feel abused. And we feel powerless because nothing we ever try works.

    Please share ideas or methods you think are worth a shot. She is so stoic. And also, you should know that 'reasons' she has for the noise are things such as "my pj' sleeves were up too high." I'm a stay at home Mum who keeps her close and plays with her... she goes to pre-prep and loves it and has friends. I can't see any kind of disturbance during her waking life. It all looks pretty ideal to me. Her father is wonderful and homelife is sturdy.

  2. #2
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    That must be tough especially when you feel you are past the waking over night stage. When you take her favorite belongings off her do you do it for an entire week or just the day? Could you perhaps try for more then a day so no tv or toys for a whole week unless she goes the whole week without waking?
    Another thing you could try is moving her mattress onto the floor in your room for a few weeks? She might just need to know you are there when she needs it.

  3. #3
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    hi onedayatatime, Im sorry, but at four years of age, if this has been going on for four years, i would really have lost the plot by now. I would be smacking her every night, I would be going totally crazy at her. Not the right advice at all, and I know everyone in the world will jump down my throat right about now, but that is honest truth, I would not have been able to handle this. Now that I have given my honest response, Ill think about it further. Perhaps move her into your room so you can respond immediately to her and thereby not allow it to become a big disturbance for the whole family. Make whatever punishment/reward last more than 24 hours. A four year old should be able to explain to you why she is doing this? I can see no reason for such behaviour, and so I am very limited in suggesting how to handle it. I hope others can be more useful. Marie.

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    Is she awake or is it a night terror?

    What is she eating in the hours leading up to the wakings?

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    Gosh that sounds difficult. I read somewhere once about what to do if you try and take your child out to a restaurant and they misbehave - the idea is to go out for a meal again as soon as possible (ie even for the next meal if you can), but leave them behind with a babysitter. Of course, the idea is that they become upset and you give them the message that they're welcome to come when they can behave the way you expect them to. I'm wondering if there's a way to adapt that for your situation, like a fun family night at grandma's or something like that? If she does the same thing then you go again the next night but she stays home with some other trusted friend/family member? If she doesn't do it elsewhere that might be worth investigating too...

    Of course, this is assuming that there is not some underlying need or illness or psychological issue that hasn't been discovered yet.

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    Thank you for your responses everyone. As far as food before bed goes, it's just regular sorts of meals. We don't do dessert at our house on a daily basis (barely a weekly basis actually) All foods are basic and healthy. We don't use packet things (inc sauces) I don't think food is the cause. Our dd is an incredible habit-maker. I think she gets some type of kick out of seeing us so upset by this behaviour that she can't resist to keep on doing it. She is not actually crying or genuinely upset... just making a sound and pretending to be. Sometimes she doesn't even bother to pretend. She'll sometimes smile sweetly at me and say 'hi' when I go in. I dare not put her in our room even once or this will become the next demand and she'll want it every night forever amen. I do not believe for a moment she is feeling insecure. She had an issue with darkness so she now has a powerful nightlight that has her room lit like Wembley Stadium. But any darker and she does become fearful of the 'dark'. She has her fave comfort toy which I never remove because she genuinely needs it. Our house has movement sensored lights throughout for her benefit. Going to the loo is never dark, coming into our room to speak politely for help is considered an ok substitute for loud fake crying... and it's a well-lit and short trip. Marie, I thank you for your honesty because I can relate to the rage you imagined you'd feel. I feel that rage also. I am trying very hard to be appropriate with my dealings with DD though so I have to keep looking for the positive parenting method that I hope will one day work. Yes, we have certainly removed her nice things and experiences for more than 24 hours and have had smiley charts in place to show her how many good nights she needs to have before some of the things can be returned. Lately this is not working at all. She just chooses to miss out for days and days and just gets bored and starts harassing her sister. Like I said, my desperation comes from discovering that nothing we do works. She simply does not care what is taken or for how long. She adapts so well to not having things. I think she needs to be somewhere more than her 5 day fortnight currently held at kindy. But we can't afford more fees for anything. We can barely afford those fees. I'm ranting on and on but I just feel helpless. Also, we have no family here at all. No grandparents, aunties or anything. Just no babysitters unless we pay a stranger which I won't be doing. I would LOVE to drop her off at someone else's place for a reward, or a break, or as a carrot on a stick but there is just no-one like that for us. If you've read this far I thank you for listening to my big whinge. We have no-one else to turn to for support and we just bounce of each other in our small house. Tonight I'm going to try just letting her make the noise and wake us all (she does anyway) and not indulge her with a visit to her room. I think she might give up after a few nights of it? But who knows. And staying calm in our room is next to impossible. It's so hard. But I've got to try and keep my head.

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    Would she respond well to a reward chart do you think?

    Our girls went through a looooong phase of waking up at 5, and sometimes even 4.45 (urgh), and we were feeling like it was mostly habit. So we drew up a chart for 10 days and put it on the fridge. If they stayed in their bed without making any noise or waking anyone up until we got them at 6.15 then they got a tick. After 10 ticks they got a prize.

    It worked! And now they sleep until we wake them up usually! Sometimes even as late as 7 which is amazing in our house.....

    Just a thought anyway. I hope you figure out a solution soon xx

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    hi again, im just thinking of some episodes of suuper nanny, not that i agree with everything she does, but she has videos of kids getting up and waking up up to thirty or forty times a night, and for more than one or two nights. spending hours just doing the same thing. so it must take a long time to break a habit, and I think this is just a bad habit your daughter has. I wonder if totally ignoring her would work. locking her bedroom door or your bedroom door, and just letting her carry on each night. and then continue to ignore through the day. Tell her you are too tired because she woke you up last night,, you are doing nothing for her today. four year old should be able to eat a sandwich or some fruit. I would even keep her at home, no kinder or anything and i would not let her sleep through the day . there has to be some way to break this. As you can tell, im a stubborn one, and i would really even forget about wanting to be a 'nice' mother, I would be the total angry bear. good luck, marie.

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    I should add ours were nearly 5 and 3.5 when we did this.

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    I can imagine how incredibly frustrated you may be, children and not sleeping just is the worst.

    Is there any chance you have someone that could have the little one for a few night (or in your room if its far enough away) so you can tackle this without disturbing them too?

    If you could I would suggest simply standing your ground. We had a sleep specialist come in for DD but DS was 4 at the time and a horrible sleeper. He woke doing something similar to your DD and the sleep consultant and us stuck to our ground with him. It resulted in a 2hr kerfuffle (he's so argumentative) and quite honestly wasn't pleasant but it was the end of it. We just kept telling him it was bedtime and what we expected, he threw every excuse in the book at us and where reasonable we ignored his requests and told him no (he has a water bottle in his room and we did allow toilet as that felt appropriate). Was the longest 2hrs, somehow dd slept through it but it did pretty much sort it.


 

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