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Grandparenting

Grandchildren not sleeping

(50 Posts)
Manxgirl Fri 25-Nov-16 12:42:46

My daughter is at her wits end - and suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

5 year old sleeps very erratically (always has). Now at school, but may go 5pm to 5am, or more likely 6.30-7 until 5am max, today 3.30am. Plays a bit in his room then throws a wobbly until someone comes to play (or sometimes gets in parents bed). Big on tantrums generally, but clearly regularly exhausted, and extremely difficult as a result. A very active boy!

2 1/2 year old wakes several times during the night. Sometimes wants to be up, sometimes goes to parents bed.

Mum not really getting much sleep at all!

They do not believe in shutting the door and expecting the children to stay in their rooms (although 5YO plays for a while before waking Mum up).

Daughter has tried friends, health visitor, GP, internet; even sleep specialists - who say nothing can be done! I can't think that's true, but Daughter is permanently in a trance, at the end of her tether and not having any sort of life, although brilliant and endlessly patient with the children. She gets very ratty and upset when I mention lack of sleep.

Any super sleep tips?

Worried granny.

Christinefrance Fri 25-Nov-16 12:51:57

If the professionals are involved and said they can't help then it's down to the parents to put some work in with the children. Maybe you can help too. Think it's a case of not giving in to the demands of the children. You say they don't want to close the doors on them so they have to teach them to stay in their beds alone, this takes time and patience and constantly returning them to their beds for a while but it does work. Be prepared for some difficult times but the long term result is worth it believe me I did it.

Cherrytree59 Fri 25-Nov-16 13:07:03

Hi manxgirl you have my sympathy my DD in similar situation with a 2yr old and 3yr old both boys.
Her partner works away so no help there.
I have the 2yr old most afternoons and 3yr olds at nursery term tim so that she can get a couple hours sleep
Also has joined on neighbours so worries about disturbing them (lady is very ill).
Like your DD has tried everything
It started when 2yr old was ill.
So thank you for startng thread.

rubysong Fri 25-Nov-16 13:45:15

Are they in separate rooms? Perhaps the five year old could be given a (non digital) clock and asked to stay quietly in his room until the small hand reaches a certain places, marked with a sticker. There could be a reward scheme for doing this and at the end of a week a small gift. I don't know what to do about a toddler, black out curtains to keep the room dark and keep putting them back to bed, keeping the whole process quiet and non exciting.

Izabella Fri 25-Nov-16 13:54:30

If someone says nothing can be done about this, then they are not ready to change or do anything about it. Is she depressed and cannot climb onto the rungs to address the problem? My godson was a horror. I had him at my house for 4 nights and cured the problem. I then followed him home. Parents were gobsmacked. At home his parents used to keep giving in to him which reinforced his behaviour, effectively telling him that if he carried on creating someone would go to him/and or have him in their bed? It can be done and quickly too, but if you are a depressed and sleep deprived parent, not easily and sometimes the effort t change things seem too much.

Anya Fri 25-Nov-16 14:50:00

The 5-year old does need a clock in his room, but I'd say a digital one as
1) easier to read in the dark
2) you can cover up the minutes and just concentrate on the hour.

GS3 was a poor sleeper. He was told he mustn't get up before his clock read a number 6. So the first night he got up at 3.06!! That's why the minutes need covering - you can tell we speak from personal experience.

I'd suggest your DD settles for him getting up when a 5 is on the clock to start with as that's his age and not a step too far as he's done that time before. Yes, reward him for doing it and make it quite clear he can tantrum all he likes before then but he won't be allowed out of his room.

Then when that is WELL established (make haste slowly) move the time until 6 - explaining that he'll be 6 next birthday and a big boy.

Only then should they try the younger brother.

jusnoneed Fri 25-Nov-16 16:05:06

The tantrum/attention seeking is the main thing to sort first. He has to learn that throwing a tantrum will not work and he will not get his own way. It will also set a good example for the younger child. Doing it now will make life easier over the next few years!
Some stronger parenting needed, boundaries will need to be set, and they need to learn that no means no, so that they both know what is acceptable behaviour.

vampirequeen Fri 25-Nov-16 17:32:19

DD1 was a terrible sleeper right from the start. Like your daughter I became a zombie. By nine months I was desperate and involved the health visitor who advised me to put her in a bed as some children are scared of the cot bars. That didn't work so then we removed everything that could cause a shadow in the room in case she was seeing things that weren't there. That didn't work either. In the end she was in a virtually bare room but still didn't sleep.

As she got older it was easier because we could set rules. I explained to her that although she didn't need to sleep other people did. I used the clock technique with her. She had to stay in her bedroom until the clock showed a certain time. She could play quietly and had a drink and piece of fruit in case she woke up hungry. If her dad was on early turn she could get up with him until he went to work but then had to go back to her bedroom until it was getting up time.

As she got older she developed the normal teenage sleep forever pattern. Then I got my revenge.....I vacuumed the landing at 11am grin

Grannaby Fri 25-Nov-16 18:33:47

Here's something for the christmas list: try googling gro-clock/sleep training clock which might help the child learn a bit more about when is an acceptable time to find Mummy and Daddy. John Lewis and Boots sell them. The groclock can be set so that at night time there is a big star surrounded by small stars which disappear as morning approaches so the child can tell how much more sleep time there is and when it is morning the sun replaces the star. Parents can choose the time for wake up. The child can be trained to only go in to parent's room when the sun is shining. There is also a monkey sleep trainer clock where the child closes the monkey's eyes and says goodnight to it when it is time to sleep and they mustn't go into parent's room until the monkey's eyes are open again. This is a bit more expensive than the groclock and I think my 4yr old DGD learnt how to open its eyes before time was up! But the parents will need to be strict for either of these to work.

Good luck. I sympathise - I need my sleep!

Jalima Fri 25-Nov-16 18:40:50

A Gro Clock worked for DGD1 as she had to wait until the sun came up before she got up (but she is quite an amenable child!).
www.boots.com/en/Gro-Clock_1040496??&cm_mmc=bmm-_-google-_-PLAs-_-Boots%20Shopping%20-%20Category%20-%20Baby&gclid=COf38tTDxNACFaEL0wodRMkFKA

There are other stockists

I would not be playing in the middle of the night! It takes endless patience with some children; DD was such a terrible sleeper I thought I would never cope with another child but No. 2 slept right through from the start thank goodness.
However, DD's child has followed in his mother's footsteps and is not a good sat going to sleep (getting her comeuppance now hmm).

Perhaps other people have made these suggestions but:
no tv or computers or iphones for at least an hour or two before bed; a banana before bed; make sure they go to the toilet last thing; shut the bedroom door and just keep putting them back firmly; no lights on in the middle of the night except a dim nightlight if they need one etc
Some children need a ritual - teddy tucked up, a story, the same routine which is quite a good idea.

I would say that 7 pm is a good bedtime for a 5 year old - any earlier and they are going to wake very early in the morning. In fact they could put the 2.5 year old to bed at 7 and let the 5 year old have another half hour.
Does the 2.5 year old still have a day-time sleep? If so, perhaps time to wean him off it.

GrammaH Sat 26-Nov-16 09:14:04

I'm with Jalima & the Glo clock. My DGS is 3 & has always been a poor sleeper, often out of bed & ready for the day by 5am. He now has his Mr Sunshine clock & knows he's not allowed out of his room until the sun is out at 6.15. I'm not saying he doesn't try it on occasionally - he's a feisty little fellow! - but mostly it works a treat. These things have to start early as, once a bad habit starts, by the age of 5 it's too late if it's become established

BlueBelle Sat 26-Nov-16 09:22:59

Did I read it right 5 year old going to bed at 5pm no wonder he's awake and raring to go. That's way too early 7 would be a better time I had three non sleepers one didn't sleep though until he was 5 he still as a 48 year old gets up very early but obviously can do useful things like going for early morning runs etc I always have gone for the line of least resistance and if it settled then and me to come n my bed that was fine too
I think it's just a period you have to go through if your children are poor sleepers then as teens you can't get them out of bed I don't think professionals can help really it normally settles itself unless it's apart of an ADHD symptom

inishowen Sat 26-Nov-16 09:29:15

My daughter bought 4 year old granddaughter a clock on the internet. it shows when it is ok to get up when the hands reach the sunshine. If it's still showing the moon my granddaughter has to stay in her room. She is allowed to play quietly or look at a book. It's not magical as she sometimes wanders into her parents room. With a five year old I think he is able to understand the rules. He needs to be given a serious chat about how tired mum is, and how he can help by being quiet in his room. Good luck.

harrysgran Sat 26-Nov-16 09:39:23

Maybe it's time for your DD to become a little less patient at 5 he should be starting to know the boundaries and the first is no playing during the night maybe she could have a word with the neighbour and explain that it might get a bit noisy for a few nights when they start the new rules the clock sounds brilliant and also putting him in the bath playing a game anything that will keep him awake later in the evening.

Marion58 Sat 26-Nov-16 09:40:15

I agree 5.00pm is way too early. 7.00pm is better. Even then in Summer when I was put to bed at 7.00pm I would spend time looking out of the window at everyone else outside enjoying themselves.

Definitely you have to put hard work in initially by putting back into bed etc. Very tiring but necessary until they get the idea. A couple of my friends didn't do this and they created a rod ....

I've not heard of that clock. That sounds a very good idea.

Hope things get sorted soon. Nothing worse than trying to cope without sleep.

Caramac Sat 26-Nov-16 09:47:56

I think professionals are saying nothing can be done IF parents are not willing to change anything.
Both parents and children (esp 5yr old) need to recognise that if the child wakes they can self soothe either back to sleep or gentle play in their own room.
The Solihull (approach to parenting) would ask 3 key questions
What is age and stage of development of child?
What is child trying to communicate?
How well are they able to communicate ?
Firm boundaries and consistency is a key concept but also the loving patience OP's daughter demonstrates.
Many years ago my friend had an early rising son and was advised at sleep clinic to put a lock on KITCHEN door, remove gas fire in lounge and leave a bowl of dry cereal and a beaker of squash with a video ready to push in and therefore play. Drastic but she could not continue getting up at 4m every day.

radicalnan Sat 26-Nov-16 09:50:17

OH dear some of them are just wife awake all hours.......until they hit puberty. It is such hard work being a parent. I am sure we went to bed earlier because often the house was cold and there wasn't much to stay up for.

I think boredom worked wonders for us back then.

mostlyharmless Sat 26-Nov-16 09:52:27

Gro clocks work well for my four grandchildren. They were all bad sleepers, but starting using gro clocks at age 2/3 ish and now stay in their room until "the sun comes up" at the time the parents have set.
I suppose young children wake up and have no idea whether it is morning or not, so in a way, the gro clock showing the moon and stars night time images is reassuring and means they need to go back to sleep. As they get older they might "read" a book quietly in bed while they are waiting for the "sunrise".
A brilliant invention!

barbaralynne Sat 26-Nov-16 10:01:45

All of these suggestions are excellent and there are professionals who would help - they are family support workers. They work with the parents, doing pretty much what everyone here is trying to do, but, as they meet with the parents and children, they make their own assessments and then support the parents through the hard processes. The 5yr olds school may be able to provide the contact. As they are outside of the family the parents/daughter would find it easier to accept help than from her mother perhaps.

Solitaire Sat 26-Nov-16 10:01:53

Banana, bath, book, bed was always the rule in my home. You can substitute banana of course😊Then if they wake return them to bed without any chat or fuss. "Time for sleep,night night" and keep returning them until they get the message. As someone else said this can take several nights but with the addition of the sleep clock (which I would have loved and probably made life easier) it could solve the problem. My sympathies as it's a nightmare...or would be if parents could sleep long enough to even dream!grin

Caramac Sat 26-Nov-16 10:04:52

Barbaralynne I am a family support worker smile

NanaandGrampy Sat 26-Nov-16 10:05:50

I totally agree Solitaire its the same method we use ( minus banana smile) and have had no problem with the first three grandchildren.

We're still a work in progress with the little one mainly because despite moaning endlessly about it - his parents fail to follow through and he ends up sleeping ( and disturbing their sleep)with them.

Lewlew Sat 26-Nov-16 10:08:45

As a gran of an 18 month old, 5pm is way too early even for a toddler. DGD goes down at 7pm. Is the 5 year old at school?

That does not give much time at home with family....

Everthankful Sat 26-Nov-16 10:24:56

I think a lot of these problems start with the fashion today of having babies in a separate room (the well furnished nursery that was decorated months before the baby was even born), far too soon. Every one of the parents I know who complain of children not sleeping or wanting to share their bed have put their baby into a room of their own either straight away or at a few months old. My four children each stayed in my bedroom in their own cot until a year old. it was easy to just reach over without talking and soothe them back to sleep when they woke. They didn't develop any separation anxiety during that first year and learned to sleep peacefully knowing Mum was always nearby. The transition to their own room usually took a couple of nights to adjust, with me constantly running to calm them if they woke, with no talking, just putting my hand in the cot and soothing them. I never had any of them in my bed, unless they were ill.

Lilylilo Sat 26-Nov-16 10:50:03

5pm is much too early for a 5 yr old to go to bed. Plus i think it's unreasonable to expect a 5 year old to play quietly in his bedroom on his own when he wakes up in the morning. My kids rarely played in their rooms. As soon as they woke they wanted to come into bed with me. 7pm bedtime screen free time after supper and bedtime stories plus a night light might help. The sleep clock is brilliant all my grandchildren have one. I think starting school causes anxiety and some 5 year olds need to know Mummy is nearby at bedtime.