Saturday, October 25, 2008

Consistency? Or Insanity?

The bedtime battle wages on. At this point, I'm not clear on who is winning. I thought by today (day 5 of me doing the "silent return to bed") it would definitely be me, although I expected it to continue for at least several more days, if not more. But tonight made me wonder at what point consistency becomes insanity, the definition of which is to do the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result.

Maybe D and I are both insane?

Tonight took 1 hour and 45 minutes. But the crazy thing is that it wasn't full of tantrums, crying, spitting, throwing up, spilling water, hitting, dropping to the floor, yelling and begging for a million different things. The first 10 minutes were the crying, asking for things phase; but even then, he didn't get nearly as upset as he did the first two nights. He calmed down so quickly I was silly enough to think tonight might only take 20 or 30 minutes. Boy, how wrong I was.

The rest of the night was spent with him quietly getting up and doing things like turning on his lamp, turning off his fan, turning on his overhead light, and then coming to open the door. Then he'd immediately go set things right again - turn his fan on and turn his light and lamp off, get into bed and wait for me to cover him up. Sometimes I'd hear him get up or see his lamp go on and then it would be quiet for a minute or more. I'd been waiting for him to open the door before doing anything, but once out of sheer curiosity I opened the door to see what he was up to. That time, he was playing with the Halloween window clings on his window. I promptly and silently took them out of the room.

Honestly, tonight was almost as maddening, if not more, than the two hours of screaming, crying and other obnoxious behavior was. This quiet getting up, doing something or other, and coming to the door for me went on for so long I seriously felt like I was going to lose my mind. Over and over and over he did it; it was just a game to him. And it wasn't as if he was stopping to play for long periods of time. He'd do something or other in his room (most of the time I don't know what he was doing), come to the door, open it, and get back in bed. Half the time he'd just lie down in front of the door and pound his legs on the floor. I wonder if those times he was trying to see if I'd come in.

Eventually, I did start going in before he'd open the door. I'd listen for his feet to hit the floor and then open the door and point him back to his bed. I don't know if that was the right call or not. On the one hand, he might have discovered "Cool, if I keep doing this, Mom comes in my room!" I'm hoping it was more that he realized he couldn't get up and play around anymore. I did it as much because I was sick of waiting for him every time he'd get up as anything. I knew he was up, I wanted him to realize I wasn't going to allow it.

Still, even with that, he kept it up and showed absolutely no signs of slowing. At one point he'd seemed like he was winding down, but after that it was like he got more and more energy. He'd run to his bed, jumping up and rolling around, getting his animals in place before I'd put the cover over him. I could tell he wasn't going to stop anytime soon.

Finally, I broke my silence and informed him that I would no longer be putting his covers over him; if he wanted to keep getting up, he could put his covers on himself. Once again, I'm not sure if it was a good call or not, at least in the long run. Maybe the whole time I should have kept to my silence, but I was so beyond done with it, I felt like I had to do something different or he'd be at it for another hour or more. I knew that kind of escalation would make him mad, and it definitely did. He got upset and started getting up quicker, pounding on the door and crying for me to put his covers on. I let him do that about a dozen times, not even going into his room, just standing in the doorway pointing to his bed, waiting for him to get back in, and closing the door. Finally I went in, told him calmly (although at this point, calm was the last thing I was feeling) that I would put his covers on one more time, but if he got out of bed again, he could do it himself and I would not be putting his covers on him again tonight. That was the last time he got up.

I think I'm going to have to add something to what I'm already doing. Tonight he was playing a game and more or less getting away with it. I think he honestly would rather do this than go to bed, so even if all that happens is I put him back to bed over and over, he figures it's more fun than actually going to bed. I'm going to have to impose some sort of consequences. However, I want to keep things fairly simple and all related to bedtime and his room.

Tomorrow during the day I'm going to clean out his room of just about everything - toys, books, animals, everything. He can keep his regular nightlight, the Halloween pumpkin nightlight he is currently using (the other one is in there, but not on), his shark, elephant and kitty that he sleeps with and I think that's it. That way there at least won't be anything to play or mess around with in there.

Then, tomorrow night I'm going to tell him that if he gets up out of bed, even once, he will not be getting stories at bedtime the next night. The hard thing about bedtime consequences is they're so hard to make immediate. I can't take away books right then and there because we read books before the shenanigans begin. So hopefully this will still have an impact; and I do know he's perfectly capable of understanding the connection between a consequence that is delayed and the behavior that caused it. I fully expect him to call me on it and I have no illusions that this will magically make him stay in bed tomorrow night. But the next night he will not get books. Maybe that will start to get his attention.

After that, I'll be taking away his Halloween nightlight and switching him back to his regular one. I'm reluctant to take away the nightlight entirely, although I'm well aware that I have a very limited number of bedtime things to take away. Once the Halloween nightlight and books are gone, I'm sort of out of options unless I take the nightlight and the animals he sleeps with. I'm not sure if I'll do that or not; at this point I don't want to, but I wonder if I'll have to. I have a couple of days to think about it, so we'll see.

And I'll have to think about the covers thing too. I might have to decide at some point to stop putting his covers back on him at all and just fight that one out with him. Maybe that will have an impact, I don't know. At this point, I honestly don't know what will ultimately get the message across.

In the meantime I'm exhausted because he's also getting up in the night at least once most nights. I'm hoping against hope that once he's going to bed well and starts getting more sleep again the night wakings will stop. That's what Weissbluth would have me believe, but we'll see. D apparently hasn't read the same books as I have so he doesn't know what is supposed to happen. I also ordered a book on "strong willed" children. I'm sure D hasn't read that book either (lol), but I'm hoping it might have some ideas, for bedtime and other issues. Another we'll see.

I feel like I say that a lot these days.

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