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End of my tether with sleep issues (4 yo stepson)

Posted by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 12:01 AM
  • 23 Replies

Folks,

I'm a long time reader, but a first time writer. I'm begging for some advice.


DH and I got married in March of this year after living together for close to two years. SS is almost 5 years old and co-slept with his bio parents until he was nearly 2. When he's with his biomom two nights a week, she puts him to bed on the couch with cartoons on. When he comes back to our house for the rest of the week, he will not go to sleep on his own. He cries, he wails, he throws things, he screams, he runs around the house.


We were dilligent with the Supernanny sleep method for more than a year and a half. We always do the same nighttime routine - 7:45 bath, 8:00 brush teeth, 8:05 two books, 8:30ish cuddles and lights off. We finally got to the point that he would fall asleep in his own bedroom if we stayed in there until he dozed off, but that was often taking an hour or so after reading books was done. Over the past six months or so, he's started waking us up in the middle of the night. We persisted with the Supernanny method. When that didn't work, we allowed him to get into a sleeping bag on our bedroom floor when he woke up. Now, he doesn't like the sleeping bag and messes with us for most of the night - banging on the bed, slamming doors, pulling the dog's tail.


We're at our wits end. We've taken him to a child psychologist, read multiple books on sleep problems, and just don't know what to do.  Obviously, Bio mom's approach is hurting us, but we can't control her, her behavior, or the court-ordered visitation.


It's gotten so bad that I'm falling asleep at the office, falling behind on work, and am completely sluggish and irritable when I get home in the evenings. I know this is terrible, but sometimes I just feel myself gettig angry when he comes into a room. I know that children sense emotions. I also know that I am the adult and always have the power to stay in control of my emotions. I'm just so tired, sad, and frustrated. I don't know what's going to be best for him and best for us.


i don't want to revert to co-sleeping, because that seems like a bandaid. Plus, it means that I have to be in bed at 8, and also means that DH and I are basically losing any opportunity to be intimate during the week.  Does anyone have ANY suggestions? I'm absolutely desperate here. I want SS to know that he is safe and loved. I want him to get quality sleep. I also need to maintain my sanity.


Please help!

by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 12:01 AM
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Replies (1-10):
newstepmom61811
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 12:04 AM
If he falls asleep to sounds at bio mom's he might just not like quiet...have you tried a sound machine???
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dramacat
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 12:08 AM


Quoting newstepmom61811:

If he falls asleep to sounds at bio mom's he might just not like quiet...have you tried a sound machine???

We've done music. We've done kids stories on CDs. We've done white noise. We've even done recordings of us reading books to him. He has a cd player near his bed that he knows how to operate, as well as a portable digital headset. 

At his last session with the child psychologist, the therapist literally told us, "I'm totally stumped on this one."

E_is_4_Ethan
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 1:12 AM
1 mom liked this

Is DH on good terms with BM? Does he take naps during the day? If so maybe they should stop. Have you tired melatonin?  

HopesNDreams
by Silver Member on Nov. 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM
Melatonin is a good idea. Also, there be more to it than just sleeping on the sofa in front of the tv. Three years after she came to live with us with massive sleep issues, SD is only now starting to remember and reveal what was going on in her mothers house around bedtime. Fighting, abuse, adults leaving, noise, strangers, etc are all examples of environmental factors that could be influencing sleep in the other house.
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chanizen
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM
At some point. It will simply become necessary to have him in his own room. With my dd (poor sleeper). This worked:

Same routine. I would put her to bed and leave to go do something. Then come back. I did this repetitively, getting longer each time.

Then I would sit on the stairs and work. She could hear me typing. And I would leave and return, getting longer each time.

Finally, I put her to bed and would check on her every few minutes getting longer each time .

When she got up at night, at first I let her in the bed, then I started only
Going to lay down in her bed. Then I slept on the floor. Finally, I would simply take her back.

This took about a year to get through and, as a single mom, it was all me. She was about 4 at the time.

By the time she was 5, it was better and by 6, almost completely resolved.

I'm no sleep professional, but it worked for her....
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packermomof2
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Nothing to make him sleep ... can't blame mom on it though... my ex didn't do much in the way of bedtimes and my son was fine with the schedule at home.  But my daughter was a lot like your SS from a very young age.  I talked to doctors, tried everything I could think of (warm bath, warm drinks, etc), that didn't work.  I fought it for a few years. 

Then realized my kids doctor was right... not everyone is a sleeper.  Why fight a battle that I'm obviously losing anyway?  A four year old who stayed up til midnight and got up at 7 with no problems surely wasn't normal, but it wasn't the end of the world either.  So I started making sure there were books, colors, paper, etc in her room and she could stay up quietly entertaining herself until she was tired ...

She's now in the 5th grade and this is the first year she's been in bed, willingly, by 10:30.  She gets up at 6:00 a.m....

My 8 year old son willingly puts himself into bed by 7:30 most nights.  He's always been a routine sort of guy... you screw with the routine you are asking for your own trouble...

So my advice is stop believing the nanny or whatever her name is has all the answers and realize that it isn't moms fault and that maybe this kid just isn't the sleeper you want him to be.  When you stop fighting the battle he might stop ...

packermomof2
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:33 AM

And melatonin hasn't been tested on children .. yes it is natural and all that jazz but when my daughter was at her worst I asked about it and the doctor said it isn't recommended for children due to not being tested on them yet...

alw06tchs
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:38 AM

 My step Daughter is 4 years old we have have joint custody for 2 years now and her mom lets her sleep in the bed with her and at our house she sleeps in her bed and she use to wake up 3-4times at night and so finally we had 2 hughe teddy bears that we put in herroom and she started sleeping all night except to get up and potty...she use to cry when we would put her to bed wanting someone to sit beside her bed all night long and then when she would wake up and see we werent there she would want to sleep with us.. but we have been doing this for a year and a half and it has worked she sleeps in her own bed now w one teddy beside her and the other one on the floor

KnowItAll
by Silver Member on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:48 AM
My 7 year old brother has severe autism and his doctor recommended giving him melatonin every single night and he falls asleep like clockwork. However, he does wake up in the middle of the night. I know several people who have used melatonin with no known side effects.
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packermomof2
by on Nov. 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM


Quoting KnowItAll:

My 7 year old brother has severe autism and his doctor recommended giving him melatonin every single night and he falls asleep like clockwork. However, he does wake up in the middle of the night. I know several people who have used melatonin with no known side effects.


I never said I didn't try it... :)  I did... my kid was waking up, bouncing off the walls at 11 - 12 - 1 in the morning.  I decided to take the doctors advice on that one after that.

His advicy on benadryl, however, I tossed aside when it kept her up instead of making her tired.

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." - Theodore Roosevelt
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