Bedtime has been tough from the beginning this week. Michael is getting up earlier to get out of the house with his Dad due to me working earlier now, and it takes its toll at night. He both needs sleep and fights against it. Last night was the first night I wished I had thought of using melatonin again. I have used it a few times only when he is really off his schedule to reset him. By the time I thought of it though, it would have been too late anyway. He was wired. It was late and the stress was there. Stalling, insulting and deliberately misbehaving to lose his bedtime routine is what he does. Then, at the end of the routine he is crying that he is alone and I am not lying down with him, reading to him, or giving him his massage. He will not use pictos and when I gently remind him each night he has to go through his routine calmly in order to get the steps in his routine, he still misbehaves. It is discouraging and I feel bad for him making these choices and I remind him at the end of the night to make better choices tomorrow. We will be making some changes to his behavior program at home with his team, so that he can make learn to make better choices. He has said in anger and through crying that he cannot do it, but I remind him that he can. He just needs to calm down, look at his options, and go.
So what did I do last night that could have made things worse? Here are some things I have learned NOT to do:
- Do not yell: This is hard one for parents. You are tired by the long drawn out bedtime routine. You are tired of the screaming, stalling and them yelling. You yell. You may say things and threaten to take things away. Not good. It just adds fuel to the fire. Give yourself a time out or, as Michael reminded me after we made up, “You needed to use your self-control too, Mommy.”
- Do not talk about tomorrow and forecast: Yep. Guilty of this when I am losing control. I will say things like, “Tomorrow you will be tired. Tomorrow I’m going to tell your teacher. “It’s stress and anger talking. Don’t let them win.
- Calm down ourselves: It’s important we calm down slowly too so we can handle what comes our way
- Make sure from the beginning that rules are clear: I am looking for things I can improve upon in the bedtime routine so Michael is clear on what he can and cannot accept.
- Ask for help from another adult if you can: If you find yourself burning out, ask another adult to take over bedtime for a few nights to get a break. If not, make sure to take care of yourself when they do go to bed.
Exceptional Parents, what are some of your tricks for bedtime battles? What has and has not worked for you and your child? In the end, just know that tomorrow is another day. Don’t be afraid to try new things and let your child know you love them no matter what. You will help them learn how to self-regulate and calm down, and that they have the power inside to help themselves. Until next time