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Ask Coach Jen K. Your Own Question

Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1744
Experience:  Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Life Coach
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Our 3 1/2 year old son (very determined boy) gives us a difficult

Customer Question

Our 3 1/2 year old son (very determined boy) gives us a difficult time every night at bedtime. We have tried everything, calming environment, read books, warm bath.....we are at a loss. He screams and cries for at least an hour or two.......never gets out of bed, but yells and won't go to sleep. It leads to over-tiredness every day. Help!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Coach Jen K. replied 1 year ago.

CoachJenK :

Hi. Welcome. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 20 years experience working with individuals and families on a variety of issues.

CoachJenK :

What you and your Son are going through is perfectly normal for this stage and yes it can make anyone feel insane.


 

CoachJenK :

He knows that if he goes to sleep things are still going on and he wants to be a part of things.


 

CoachJenK :

When you say he is wonning the battle, tell me more about that and how is he winning?


 

CoachJenK :

*winning


 

CoachJenK :

hi


 

Customer:

Well, we go in his room at least 4 or 5 times or more........I wish we could just sing a few songs and leave the room and he would go to bed. He is a very determined boy and will call for us and say he has to go potty, needs milk, etc etc. It's so tiring for my husband and I

Customer:

and he seems to always be overtired. he is definitely hyper as well so there are lots of factors


 

CoachJenK :

what do you give him for his last meal before bed?


 

CoachJenK :

I am asking a lot of questions but will give you some practical steps once I understand it all a bit more


 

CoachJenK :

it is exhausting. how long are you waiting each time before you go in and when you get in there what are you doing?


 

Customer:

He has all different dinners, we cut out dessert or any late night snacks........he does have a half a glass of 2% milk......he is a fairly picky eater so ranges from chicken to pasta to veggies, fruit, etc


 


I am wondering if sugar or food dye is affecting him

Customer:

We put him down at 7:45 tonight and my husband battled for 30 mins trying to sing songs and him telling my husband he had to go pee/poopie a few times.......so they would run to the bathroom and he would be laughing and didn't have to go


 


 

CoachJenK :

I would limit the fruit to during the day so he isnt getting any sugar after 4 pm. What time are you putting him in? Is he still in crib?


 

Customer:

finally my husband called me up there, my son is still yelling for me now

CoachJenK :

ok I am glad you just gave me that scenario....we are going to change things around a bit...it will get harder before it gets easier.


 

CoachJenK :

right now he is getting energy and attention for this behavior and it must be ignored completely.


 

Customer:

and i have kept a diary, he yells for the other parent.......doesn't matter who puts him down although when my husband works late or is at a work dinner he doesn't ask for him usually

CoachJenK :

he is well fed, bathed, sung to a book read, etc so all is well. We need to keep the nighttime routine shorter and then leave the room and be silent.


 

CoachJenK :

is he in diapers at night?


 

CoachJenK :

responding to him in any way teaches him that if he protests long enough, you will respond.


 

Customer:

OH and he is in a toddler bed, that's the one thing we have never had an issue with.......he only gets out of bed in the morning when he is awake

CoachJenK :

so he stays in the bed and screams?


 

Customer:

OKAY WHATEVER WE NEED TO DO WE WILL, I AM SO WORN OUT

Customer:

Yes he stays in bed and yells and screams and kicks the wall

Customer:

My husband also threatens him but doesn't always follow thru and not sure that is working

CoachJenK :

threatening without following through is not helpful at all. your son knows there is no follow through.


 

Customer:

yes he is potty trained and just wears a diaper at night, but loves to ask us several times to go potty before bed, even after we already made him go after we brushed teeth

CoachJenK :

we are also going to set up a reward system for his the behavior you want....and that is that he can lie in his bed and play with his stuffed animals but screaming will not get him stickers or whatever he likes.


 

CoachJenK :

potty time is before he gets in his diaper and once he is in the diaper that is it...no matter what!!!!


 

Customer:

even if we do threaten and take away toys and the ipad (which we've done several times) he doesn't even care, doesn't phase him

CoachJenK :

if he has to poop then he poops in his diaper and then you go in and change him but without saying a word or starting the whole routine over again...


 

Customer:

Okay

Customer:

sounds good

CoachJenK :

yes after a while it doesnt phase him which is why i want it to be about rewards.


 

Customer:

okay

CoachJenK :

if your husband is less likely to follow through then it should be up to you for the night time routine.


 

Customer:

okay then can he eventually do the routine or i will always do it?

CoachJenK :

husband comes in for a goodnight kiss and a few rubs on the back and then leaves the room with a soft and loving good night, I love you.


 

Customer:

my husband isn't around a lot, he is only home after 6:30 and our kids go to bed at 7:30ish

Customer:

okay, so he comes in while i am putting patrick to bed?

CoachJenK :

then from 6:30 to 7 your husband should do an activity with him so he feels like he is getting daddy time


 

CoachJenK :

that all depends on how things are going...if your husband can remain calm and not play into it then you can share the routine...


 

Customer:

he does patrick's speech therapy with him every night and reads books

CoachJenK :

yes right when you put him in...dad comes in...gives a hug and a rub and a soft and loving goodnight and then leaves.


 

Customer:

okay


 

CoachJenK :

then you can either tell a story or read ONE book. he can't handle more than that as he is getting stimulated. the shorter the routine the better but not too short where he feels he is just dumped in the bed.


 

CoachJenK :

and you can also give him choices so he feels he has some control. "Patrick, would you like mommy to tell you a story or read you one book. It is your choice."


 

CoachJenK :

then when you are done, you tuck him in and kiss him and leave.


 

CoachJenK :

he will scream and kick and you ignore it.


 

Customer:

okay well if patrick does storytime with daddy is that okay? and then I put him in bed and just sing one song? that's how we used to do it a while back

CoachJenK :

wait 15 minutes and go in and in a flat monotone voice say "Patrick it is time to sleep." and leave the room.


 

CoachJenK :

yes that is fine.


 

Customer:

okay. so go in every 15 mins?

Customer:

for however long i need to get him to sleep?

CoachJenK :

yes i think that is good and then you can begin to lengthen the time. Once he realizes that there is no reward by you coming in then it will stop.


 

CoachJenK :

be flat and monotone and do not say anything else.


 

CoachJenK :

one line and then leave the room. he will go nuts and it will get worse until he figures out that he is not getting anything.


 

Customer:

i find myself getting so angry and yelling so i will have to work on that

CoachJenK :

during the day you can explain the new routine to him.


 

CoachJenK :

of course that happens...that is okay, you are human.


 

Customer:

okay

CoachJenK :

would it help to know that I have 3 year old twins and am going through it right now as well?


 

Customer:

what kind of reward chart?

Customer:

hah!! that is reassuring. my daughter never did this.

Customer:

just do stickers and after he gets so many buy a toy or treat? we have never done a reward chart

CoachJenK :

does he like stickers?


 

Customer:

Yes he does, I mean he loves candy and toys but stickers work

CoachJenK :

yes and help him during the day to decorate the chart so that he has ownership of it and knows that it is all within his power to achieve


 

CoachJenK :

no candy


 

Customer:

okay! should we watch his food intake, i have heard so much about sugar and dyes in foods

Customer:

i will definitely watch the fruit and sugar, just wondering if that's the problem as well

Customer:

or the fact that he's a 3 1/2 year old strong-willed boy!

CoachJenK :

so you tell him..."Patrick, I know nightime is hard for you but nightime is for sleeping. Mommy and Daddy sleep too at night. You are safe and all is okay. When we put you to bed if you dont feel tired you can lie there and play with your stuffed animals but screaming is not appropriate. If you stop screaming then each morning you will get a sticker. After 5 stickers we go to the store together and you can pick out a toy."


 

CoachJenK :

yes fruit and sugar can add to this for sure!!!!!


 

Customer:

okay!

CoachJenK :

nothing after 3-4pm in terms of sugar and fruit


 

Customer:

by the way, he is still yelling "mommy" in his room right now

Customer:

okay!

Customer:

i mean he's not crying but yelling and it's just frustrating, especially for our 5 year old daughter down the hall

Customer:

i am going to start the reward chart this week

CoachJenK :

i know he is and your blood pressure is rising. Stay calm. he is fine....he is testing and if you go in now he learns if i yell long enough, eventually she will go in


 

Customer:

okay so don't even go in now even though it's been over 30 mins? we already went in a few times in the beginning but it's been over half hour now

CoachJenK :

I might also put him down 15 minutes earlier...he could be tired and gets a second wind


 

Customer:

just go in after the initial 15 mins and thats it?

Customer:

okay, that's true, i have been trying to tell my husband for a year now he needs to go to bed earlier

CoachJenK :

you can try and go in with the flat monotone one sentence i can wait if you want while you do it. do not respond to any of his pleadings. That one sentence only.


 

Customer:

I don't hear him now, but that doesn't mean much........he's been yelling out every few mins.

Customer:

let's hope he is calming down.

CoachJenK :

lets hope...maybe he knows i am on the line. :-)


 

Customer:

this same thing happened last night and he went to bed at 9:30 after 2 hours of fighting with him. ugh.

Customer:

thanks so much for your advice!

Customer:

first time i used "just answer", i guess it just charges my credit card.

CoachJenK :

yes I want to remove the fighting because that attention keeps him going...even the negative attention is attention.


 

Customer:

I was desperate!

Customer:

okay..........

CoachJenK :

You may also choose not to go in at all and just let him cry it out for a few nights and it will stop. that may be the way to go with him wihtout going in


 

Customer:

thanks again, i don't hear him

Customer:

okay.......we'll try one of the methods this week

CoachJenK :

yes you have put a deposit down and if you find my work helpful then you offer a positive rating and then justanswer credits me for my work.


 

Customer:

oh great.......that's an awesome service to parents like me!

CoachJenK :

start tomorrow! for your sanity!


 

Customer:

yes!! thanks again, good luck with your twins

CoachJenK :

I am glad you find it helpful.


 

CoachJenK :

there should be a rating tab.


 

CoachJenK :

thank you. come to me anytime. You can request me by asking for CoachJenK at the start of a new question.


 

Customer:

yes there is

Customer:

okay great!

Customer:

thanks and have a good night :)

CoachJenK :

that makes us better moms


 

CoachJenK :

good night.


 

Customer:

good night!

Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1744
Experience: Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Life Coach
Coach Jen K. and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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