Hello all nice to be in none bubble world, here. I haven't worked out how to add info to my profile yet but I have a LO (7 now) who has been struggling for quite a while in times of insecure/avoidant attachment and who tends to go stratespheric during the bedtime routine. Inability to do simple stuff like brush teeth, focus on the task in hand etc, choose a book, we read as him being anxious. When we put tight constraints in (reducing the amount of choice, etc, limiting the time to choose books etc) it seems to make it worse. Anything we try which smacks of us being in control ups the ante completely. And of course it is much worse for mummy.
On a good day we cope with it, keep smiling and patient, others we end up shouting like a banshee (therapeutic parenting - Not!). Often at this point if we touch him or restrain him from lashing out at us it sounds like we have really hurt him (not the case), or conversely, he will do something that means he ends up hurting himself (falling off the bed, for example). So we end up with a screaming child, nerves in tatters and on a bad day, feeling awful because we have shouted and lost patience, and him milking it for all it is worth (you hurt me, I hate you... Etc).
Have you any ideas how to change the dynamics of this period? Not only are my nerves shredded but I am sure the neighbours think we are the parents from hell!
Just wanted to say welcome feezee.You could be describing our lad Bert, just turned 8 yrs and if you have read any of my current posts you will realise that I am the last person on planet adoption that could offer you good advice on bedtimes I will be interested in the replies.
My DS was diagnosed with insecure avoidant defended attachment prior to placement 2 years ago. Not sure if that would be the diagnosis now. Bedtimes can be tricky (but can be no more tricky than any other time of day!). I have found an iron clad routine helps, so DS knows what is happening next. Also giving (limited) choices e.g. Do you want a long play in the bath or a quick bath and a play with your train. Also immediate consequences e.g. If you hit me again, no story. But if it all goes pear-shaped I have been known to announce I've had enough and am going to turn the light off and go away. This seems to have a big effect for some reason (rarity? Break in routine?). None of this is earth shattering or even particularly therapeutic. I suppose it boils down to structure and routine - which I'm sure is the first second and third thing you've tried already. Good luck.
You can try verbalising his feelings for him by nameing the emotion with perhaps a reason why and a reassurance .it can be scary not understanding how we feel. Maybe he is not ready for even limited choice so chose for him. Do something unexpected like hopping up and down ,ask him to join in. Heavy blanket/weighted blanket for feeling secure in bed and a something that smells of you.if he is scared of the dark use a red light as it does not interfere with melatonium production. Reasure you will be there in the morning.
Single mum to a mixture of BC and AC all young adults.
Our bath and bed times used to be just the same - and sometimes still are.
Some things that have worked for us: - we now have bathtime much earlier, usually before tea, and then come back down in pyjamas - we choose (or Mummy chooses depending on the 'atmosphere') a bedtime story when we have a bath so it is ready - everything is already laid out before bathtime so there is no need for last minute faffing around trying to find things - clothes for the next morning are folded and put into the bathroom before bathtime - I close curtains, put nightlight on etc in bedroom while they are undressing or are in the bath - teeth are brushed for them (and to be honest, often left as really not worth the stress for any of us) - at bedtime, they are 'walked' into their bedroom - hand in hand - they have eczema so have cream after their bath but I also rub in cream on their hands or face at bedtime if they are a bit stressy (but have to judge this carefully because if they are too stressed then they can't cope with the sensation) - for ages we had a visual timetable of all the steps involved in bathtime and another for bedtime (that included a picture of me and them together again in the morning) - sometimes, when I've really been struggling, I have set a timer and said 'this is your time limit, you can choose whether we get dressed and into bed quickly giving us lots of time for huggles and story or whether you have only time for a quick hug'. (On days we only managed a quick hug I would always go back 5 minutes later for another quick hug - assuming at that time I wasn't still restraining them from the manic and violent outbursts) - for six months they slept in my room (little foam pull out beds on the floor) and this helped reassure them I'd still be ther in the morning. They still sleep in my room at times of stress and when they have lots of nightmares. - we use a 'talking button' (Talking products) that I record a lullaby and a short message onto each night so they can keep it by their pillow and play it as many times as they need to reassure themselves that I am still here, still love them - we still use baby monitors; they are reassured by knowing I can hear them - for the first year I sat in their bedrooms reading a book until they went to sleep (actually, for the first 8 months or so I think I was by the bed, holding them in it!) I then progressed to sitting in the doorway - probably another few months, then on the landing for another few months. Now I stay up stairs reading on my bed or hanging washing in the airing cupboard. - I have really worked hard on minimising transitions (at all times of the day but especially bedtimes) so they stay in one place as much as possible (bit tricky when they can't be together but also can't safely be left alone!) and everything we need is prepared in advance. It feels like a military operation sometimes but that seems to help maintain calm. - we follow an absolute routine for the order we do things which seems to help calm them - for months on end, Hurricane could not cope with washing/bathing at all in the evenings so I moved it to the morning and that worked for quite a while - having a chewy snack or drinking a smoothie through a straw before bath time also helped when we were at that stage - I know for some people, doing an action song or rhyme can help (but my two seem to get hyped by this) - one of my boys has a lullaby machine - like the ones you put on a cot but can turn the volume really low and you can set how long it stays on for; he is very easily over stimulated so we have it really quiet and have never used the light display on it - I used to do the 'I'll be back in one minute', then two, then three etc (actually, still do this but can now say 'I'll pop back in for a hug in ten minutes') - often used to lie with them as my body temperature and heart rate would help regulate theirs (much like with a young baby) and they could then calm down - each night at bedtime we talk about how Mummy will still be there in the morning and how I still love them and can keep them safe no matter which room of the house they or I am in - each night we talk about love for each other being in our heart and going round our body with each heartbeat - we then 'choose' something of each other to put into our heart each night as a special reminder that we love each other and we 'give it back' in the morning - so tonight Hurricane chose my smelly feet and I chose his gorgeous golden hair, Tsunami chose my 'sparkly brown eyes' and I chose his freckles - they have a photo of us together on their bedside table so they can remember that we are a family and we will still be one in the morning - I often used to (don't do it so much now - and really ought to now I've remembered it!) tell them one thing about them that I had particularly loved about them that day - when they'd been kind or thoughtful or managed to have a bath!
What a long ramble, sorry! Nothing has been a quick fix and we still have some nights of incredible chaos but we used to have that every night, for three hours a night at least. Lots of our issues - although I didn't realise it for ages - were around sensory stuff so when they were tired things just got so much worse as couldn't bear being touched for a wash, taking clothes off, getting dried... by doing bath time earlier we avoid a lot of those sensory and tiredness problems.
I hope something in that list is maybe worth trying; if not then maybe take encouragement from the fact that our bedtimes used to be truly awful and last for hours on end - and now I very rarely have that; they have learnt a bedtime routine and Hurricane at least can actually take himself off to sleep. Staying asleep? Well, that's a whole new adventure!
Just out of interest can I ask you what there bedtime and routines and behaviours were like pre moving home?
Married mum of two nearly adults !!! Grew up in care myself fostered for a long time so have a huge collection of much loved additional children. Fostering is forever xxxxxxx Just been approved for a sibling group who deserve to stay together - AS Left (5), AD Right (3) & AD Delight (13) xxx
We have had some horrendous bedtimes with our two - especially with our daughter who came is us being very controlling. I have found that if I come across as firm, with tight constraints and she senses that I am trying to control events it makes her far worse - then a power struggle ensues and I end up shouting and she ends up shouting, screaming, kicking, hitting, kicking, spitting, etc etc. As for consequences and threats of consequences - well you may as well be talking to a brick wall. My daughter (and son) responds much better to me if I keep very calm and gentle, if I smile at her a lot and am generally very sweet. Being bossy and having a firm voice like super nanny just inflames her.
I have also found that fun and games help. For example with teeth cleaning (which has been a huge power struggle) I would sing a song, usually the grand old duke of york and they would clean their teeth in time to the music. I have also let them take turns cleaning my teeth - they clean mine a bit, then I clean theirs. Sometimes we did a daft thing when we sat on my bed in a little circle and i would clean my daughters teeth and she would clean my son's teeth and he would clean my teeth. Also just cleaning my teeth at the same time could help - they would mirror what I did. I know these things sound silly (and messy sometimes)but it got the job done, was fun and avoided power control battles (but I was in control). In the mornings I used to do time challenges to see how fast they could get ready and if they could break their previous record.
Also, I am a believer in picking your battles. Decide what you want most in any given situation and then let them have control over side issues. Don't insist on taking control of every detail, give them control of less important things.In the early days I did a lot of bargaining with my son, which the social workers frowned on, but it was much better than trying to win all conflicts with escalating anger on all sides.
Focusing on job in hand - both our children find this difficult. I do not think this is a control issue - I just don't think they can help fidgeting. I try to keep all objects away from the task in hand and gently remind them about what they are supposed to be doing, to bring them back to it and talk them through it a bit at a time.
Our children have been with us for four and a half years and daily life is so much better now. The power struggles have not gone away and probably never will but there is much less conflict than there used to be. Teeth get cleaned most of the time without any problems, bedtime routines are smooth and actually usually lovely - I get into bed for a while with both my kids to warm up the bed and settle them down, they usually go to sleep before I get out. I sometimes imagine my old SW frowning at me but I don't care - it works for us - and actually it's very bonding.
Sometimes it's trial and error - try different approaches and see which one gets results and feels right for you and your child.
Mum to AS, Monopoly (12) and AD, Mousetrap (10). Married to Chess
I have just read Leo's post - what fab advice - Some wonderful conversations , I'm going to pinch some of those ideas. I love that talking button. I also walk my kids to bed holding their hand - sets the atmosphere right, at the start.
Thank you so much for all these great suggestions. Yes Bagpuss I have been reading some of your posts thinking the same thing!
Leo and connect4 there are lots of suggestions here. I think some will work but need to get OH on board, which may take longer.
happy one - LO has been with us since a pre verbal baby. He sleeps on our floor on a fold up bed and has done for at least 6 months due to nightmares and general waking up at night and not settling back down - it is all too scary for him.
He went through a phase of being difficult a bedtime, this calmed down, he then moved to our floor, and now it is escalating again. I was starting to run out of ideas, so I can't say thank you enough for all of these. Just need to stop beating myself up for screaming like a banshee and losing my cool.....