Plea for Help - Part One

Monday, October 4, 2010

 Below is my desperate plea for help almost 3 weeks ago. We HAD to get Nicky to sleep. I emailed a "sleep expert" after I bought her program called "Sleep Sense". This is what she said....
From: Dana Obleman []
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:26 PM
To: Victoria Abeling
Subject: RE: Nicholas - 28 months - won't sleep

Hi Victoria,

Please see below in blue.

From: Victoria Abeling []
Sent: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 9:34 AM
Subject: Nicholas - 28 months - won't sleep
I am not sure even where to begin to explain what’s going on? I just know I need to speak with a professional and get help. My son is 28 months and for the last 14 months (since my second child was born) Nick has proven to be the most challenging, frustrating and inconsistent child.

I bought your gold program and I have to admit I haven’t done EVERY single thing, but we’re at a point, were we cant keep trying something and waiting every 2 weeks to see if it will work.. We’ve done most of the methods described in your guide to some variations, but nothing is working. Its been 14 months of no sleep. Or interrupted sleep.

I have 2 sons; Nicholas is 28 months old and we have a younger son Brandon - 14 months. We have problems with Nicholas, and it started after Brandon was born.
He has always been a challenging child. Very needy, high maintenance. He is extremely smart and developed early. He walked at 9 months, speaking by a year, full sentences by 18 months including counting to 20, knows all his shapes, animals, colors, etc…and potty trained (except at night)  Wow, sounds like a smart boy! 
As I look back to pinpoint what has gone wrong I think it started when Brandon was born.  Yes, this is very common.  It makes sense that it interrupted his routine and security.  Yes, you are right. 
 For the last 14 months, we’ve struggled with getting Nicky to bed. Our bedtime routine is as follows. We all eat dinner together, followed by bath, then play time in the playroom, Not a fan of playtime in the routine. I'd move it to the first step, then bath, then books, then bed.  pick out some books, and bedtime for Nicky was between 7 – and 730. Its slowly been pushed back to 730- 8. By the time we are DONE, its past 9 pm, we are tired and exhausted and anxious to see what the night will bring.  Yes, that is getting too late. 

Lately Nicky does everything possible to break routine, to fight us tooth and nail. He wont even step in his room despite all our efforts. He wont put on his PJs, read a book, or even go in his crib/toddler bed willingly. Ok, let's start here with the routine. 
Make a list of bedtime routine activities
Into bed
make a box for a sticker after each activity. Also set a timer for 30 min. Tell him that if all activities are not completed in the before the timer goes off, then again, there will be no stories.
Tell Nicky that he must co-operate on each step, in order to get his sticker. If at any time in the routine he does not co-operate and get his sticker, then there will be NO stories, and he will go directly to bed. Stick to this rule like super glue, no extra warnings.
Then make a reward chart for sleeping through the night. Tell him that if he sleeps all night without calling for you, when his clock says 7, (indicating morning time) he can have .... ? something good. Make sure you have a digital clock with the minute numbers duct taped so all he can see is the hour.
Once he is in bed, you are to sit in a chair by his bed. If he does anything apart from laying quietly, you will give him one warning that if he does not co-operate, you will leave. Give it 10 seconds, if he is not co-operating, you do not say a word, but calmly get up and walk out of the room. Hold his door closed for two full min.
 After the 2 min, go back into the room and sit down in your chair, he doesn't co-operate, give your one warning again, give it 10 seconds, get up and quietly walk out for 4 min. Do it over and over until he is asleep.
Do this for 3 nights. Do the exact same thing in the night. Do not give in to any demands, no matter how trivial they seem. 
On bedtime 4, 5, and 6, you move to the middle of the room, and follow above plan to the letter
ON bedtime 7, 8 and 9, move to the door, same rules.
On bedtime 10, move slightly out of view, maybe he can just see your legs, same rules.
On bedtime 12, move more out of view, (just around the corner) same rules. If he comes out of his room, one warning, then close the door, for 2, 4, 6, 8, min. As many as it takes for him to stay in bed.
Do the same thing for any waking in the night.
  Once we get him in his room he hangs on to us for dear life, like a spider monkey begging us not to go or to lay down in his room. Peeling your son off of you when he cries for you to stay with him, is heartbreaking .  Yes, I can imagine!  I know what he is doing too. And we are obviously not doing something right.

 If we stay in his room to help him calm down, he just starts crying and screaming as soon as we leave. He does fall asleep eventually, usually takes between 15 - 25 minutes. If we stay in his room, we have to constantly tell him to close his eyes and go to sleep, and finally he drifts off.
2 weeks ago my husband converted his bed to a toddler one, despite my requests and our pediatrician’s. I flet that if we could not get him to sleep in a crib, why would he in a toddler bed…one tat he can GET OUT OF!   Yes, I completely agree! 

Nicky thought it was a novelty and exciting at first and we were successful getting him into bed and sleeping through the night for the first 6 nights. However, we still had to lay with him until he fell asleep – that usually takes between 30  - 60 minutes.

But now he wont go into his room again, once we get him into bed, usually through bribes and pretending to leave to make him get into bed, he will lay there sobbing until we finally can calm him down and we stay there till he falls asleep.

But that’s when it gets worse…. In the middle of the night he climbs out, he  opens the door, comes downstairs 2-3 times a night and fights us, screaming, claiming he has to poop,  is sick, has to throw up, needs food, water, watch TV, read a book, go outside, just to stay away from the bed. (He wont sleep in our room, btw.)  Sounds very tiring indeed. You may not give in to any of these demands. Just take him back to bed, give one warning, then (without talking) leave for 2, 4, 6, 8, min or however many it takes before he goes back to sleep. 
We tried the Good Night Light, and it terrifies him. He hates it. I hate that every night he is so upset before bed. that can't be healthy. I just cant understand why he wont go to bed after all this time. he knows its bedtime and he will go to bed for a babysitter.  Ok, then you know he can do it! It's just a terrible game for attention, and it sounds like you play it...  When we put him down he is so upset that his hands get sweaty and he screams that he is scared and the room is "yuck" - how did he get so traumatized?  When the boundaries are not absolutely black and white, most toddlers will push and push until they find the boundaries. To me, it sounds like he has worked himself into a "habit" of having a fit at bedtime for various reason, most likely do to some insecurity around the new baby, but the baby is no longer new, so it's time to stop feeling guilty about that one...
You have got to stop this terrible cycle by making your rules very clear, very simple and very predictable. It will take work, but for everyone's sake, this needs to be done. 

I almost feel like we did it to him. everyone said to let him cry it out. so we did. and as a result he is terrified of bedtime. Or something? The dark?  Well, start again, just like I've outlined. It will be the easiest possible way for him, but you must not give into any form of bad behavior. He co-operates, and you stay, he doesn't and you leave. It's ultimately his choice. 

A year ago, he followed routine and went to bed. it seems like he has fought us at every bedtime step until we have no more steps and now we have no routine and he runs all over us. and here we are over a year later.
i dont know what else to do. its not fun for anyone in this house, including Dan and I. we blame each other. no one seems to understand and they look at us like we are enabling it. and everyone says to let him cry. it just feels beyond that and after all this "crying" he’s no better. 
I can understand how difficult this must be for everyone, but it's not hopeless, I promise.
 It will take absolute commitment and total consistency in order for it to work. 

We’ve been taking to sleeping on his floor, just so we all can get some sleep. Basically out of desperation and exhaustion. Where do we go from here? 
Follow the above outline for one full week, and then send me an update. We may need to tweak a few things depending on his choices.

Hang in!

 Dana Obleman 

the results coming....


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