Bed time battles with Livi suck. We have been having them, to some degree, for months. These last few weeks seem to be particularly difficult. We don’t know what to do with her, for her, or even too her. She can have the attitude and stubbornness of a PMSing, bi-polar, 14 year old… and I’m NOT exaggerating. She will throw herself to the ground and ignore us. She will come up with every excuse in the book to get us responding to her some how. She will kick the walls to make noise. She will toss books in to Sofie’s crib to “give her something to read”, but te books sometimes hit Sofie in the head. She will give us attitude… Not just 3 year old attitude, but the kind of attitude you get from a 16 year old who knows she is almost an adult and testing the limits. She will mimic what we say in a sassy voice. She will yell. She will do the exact opposite from what we tell her to do and then give us a look “daring” us to do something about it. SERIOUSLY!?! And all this is within the half hour we are trying to get her to be quiet in bed trying sleep! It really makes for some bad parenting some nights.
Is this normal 3 year old behavior? Are other parents experiencing bed time battles like this? She can have attitude during the day but not like this. Generally, she is a pretty awesome kid! Just not when going to bed.
What do we try after we have already attempted reasoning, giving extra attention, bribing, ignoring, allowing natural consequences, and giving consequences? What comes next after we have given a time out, talked and reasoned with her, threatened consequences, acted on those consequences by taking away her Elmo, fuzzy, pillow, her cartoons or privileges for the next morning and, I’m ashamed to say, even flicked her? We’ve exhausted all of our parenting strategies. (We will not spank our children. We think it is wrong and damaging. I know flicking her on occasion is hypocritical of us and a form of corporal punishment, which is why I am ashamed of trying that method of parenting. We were at our wits’ end.)
I know many people might suggest cutting her nap out all together but I’m not entirely sure that is the answer either. Livi has always been a good sleeper and been on the higher end of the scale for hours of sleep need than many of her peers. I’m the same way. While many people only need 7-8 hours of sleep, I am never fully rested unless I’ve had a good 9 hours. Livi is fully operational on 12-13 hours of sleep. (11 at night and a 1-2 hour nap.) I think cutting her naps out might disrupt her cycle to much and result in being over tired. She is yawning by 1:20pm most days. When we lay down for a nap she is almost always asleep within 10 minutes and then sleeps for 1-2 hours.
I am starting to try something different. I gave her the option of napping. She naps with me in my bed because naps don’t work for either girl if they are together and Sofie NEEDS her naps. I brought some puzzles and books in to my room and lay them on the floor beside the bed. I read her a book as usual and told her that I wanted her to lay down for 10 minutes for some quiet time. If she didn’t want to sleep she could quietly read the books or do the puzzles while Mommy slept. Well, she has fallen asleep each time and slept for over an hour each time.
For bed time, I told her that because she was a big girl, she gets to stay awake later than Sofie. After Sofie was in bed I cuddled with her in my bed, read her a book, got her to get in her pj’s and go to the bathroom then one more short book before I put her to bed in her own room. We still had a battle that was just as intense as usual but it is much shorter. We only “fought” with her for 15 minutes instead of the usual 45 minutes. I hope that things keep getting better and that this really does work. I honestly don’t know what else to do if this doesn’t work.