Why Does This Child Hate Bedtime?
by mayjo, Sep 15, 2009
My five year old granddaughter has hated bedtime since she was an infant. She is very strong willed, hates to be told "no" and bedtime completely stresses out the whole household. My daughter and SIL have tried all the suggestions that most parenting experts recommend. Nothing works. To see what she would do on her own, we've even tried letting her stay up until she is ready to go to bed on the weekend, and she still outlasts us! She had moderate to severe eczema as a baby/toddler and is anaphylactically allergic to dairy. She is very intelligent and precocious but she has tended to have meltdown behavior at not getting her way, although that is getting better. By far, her greatest behavior problem is bedtime. Her parents are so frustrated. Last night, she was put to bed @ 8:30 after bath, book, hugs, etc. Her mom went to her room next door around 9 and proceeded to go sleep herself. Two year old baby brother asleep in his room. Mom is asleep and around 9:30, my g'daughter goes into Mom and Dad's room, wakes up Mom and says "I don't want to go to bed". At that point, Mom is not happy. She gets up, takes her back to her room(with feet firmly planted in the floor and a screaming fest beginning). She ends up waking up baby, Mom, at wit's end, spanks her. Whole household is upset.
It is so sad to have one area of behavior that is causing all the good behavior to be overshadowed, not to mention disrupt everyone's lives. I wish I could offer them some advice, but, frankly, I am stumped. Please help, if you can!

This discussion is related to 5-year old behavior problems.
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Member Comments (10)
by margypops, Sep 15, 2009
Sounds like your grandaughter has some jealousy issues about the positive attention her 2 year old brother gets, When she goes to her moms room at 9-30pm her mom should quietly take her back into her room and tuck her in, no words just doing it, over and over if need be.  She could be getting mixed messages if sometimes you keep her up late ...consistancy is the answer, yes a few nights there will be lost sleep but she will get it eventually when it doesnt work, no 'spanking' it really doesnt work you are only reinforcing negative behavior that she could do to other children ,why not... its okay Mommy hits her.,see what I mean. Make sure she gets plenty of one to one attention with Mom and Dad, and Dad could take her to play ,ball games and have fun, so she knows she is still as important as ever. Good Luck,
by hippiegirl141, Sep 15, 2009
1.I hated to go to bed and sometimes still do. She's afraid she's gonna miss something.  

2.She's afraid that when she wakes up, her parents won't be there.  

3.Or it could be that she loves the control she has over all the adults in the house.  And it doesn't matter what kind of attention she's getting, as long as it's some sort of attention.  This little girl needs "no".  Kids need structure, they need routine.  And yes, they do need discipline. If she's being naughty and won't go to bed, she gets a choice:  you can go to bed now and sleep.  If you don't then tomorrow when you wake up, I am not going to take you to the playground or I am taking your tv privileges away for 2 nights, etc, etc...which do you choose....and give her a fair few minutes to think about it.  That way, she thinks she is still in control.  But everyone wins.  (if she chooses to go to bed and not have something she enjoys taken away.)  If she doesn't go to bed, FOLLOW THROUGH with the other choice she made.  Maybe there will be some sleepless nights, but sometimes that's the most effective way to learn.  Making mistakes and being given choices is all part of growing up, help her grow up to be a lady who can make good decisions for herself.  
by mayjo, Sep 16, 2009
Thanks for the input. Doesn't seem that jealousy is the cause, as she did this long before brother came along.  When I mentioned that they have tried everything, I wasn't exaggerating. Other than occasionally, bedtime is at 8:30. Mom and Dad make sure to give her lots of attention. I even keep baby brother so that they can do fun activities together that he's too little for. She has never lacked for attention. In fact, we have all made special effort to make sure of it. We've also tried the motivating/discipline methods. I actually got her to voluntarily go to bed on her own without beging told for about 4-5 nights in a row a couple of weeks ago. I encouraged her to "surprise" mom and dad by getting all ready for bed and then announcing she was going, and then kissing them night-night. The novelty of it, along with mom and dad's being so pleased, was motivation, but only for those few nights. She then fell back into the old routine. It's as if she truly does not care what priviledge/treat/punishment she might get. Nothing trumps her strong resistance to going to sleep. She even tells us, "I don't want to be asleep" And not until very recently has she ever had an occasional bad dream. She is such a precious girl.  You can force a child to go to bed, but you cannot force them to go to sleep. We have learned that the hard way. Thanks for the comments. I only wish those suggestions had worked!
by Sandman2Blank, Sep 16, 2009
There are two other  important questions.  What time does she get up in the morning and does she nap in the afternoons?
by jdtm, Sep 16, 2009
I really think that many children do not want to go to bed is because they are scared.  Most will not know "why" they are scared - whether it be the dark, or bad dreams, or monsters, or being alone, or strange noises, or whatever ....
by Wojp2007, Mar 28, 2013
I have a 4-year-old daughter who is very similar. She had eczema and dairy problems and is very intelligent. She doesn't like to be alone at all because for the first 6-8 months of her life she was in pain all the time from being colic and throwing up, so she was held and never put down. She can outlast anyone. I know how terribly frustrating it is. The only thing that has worked is sitting in the room with her, talking. Sometimes I have to pay her back, other times I can sit in a chair close to her and just talk. But I only talk if she stays in bed. We have 4 night lights including a dream light to help her feel special. She loses all tv and movies the next day if she fusses and that always works with her. She loses movies 2/3 nights a week because she throws a fit, but I follow through. After about 2 weeks of easing her into bedtime I have been able to leave the room when she's still awake and she stays in bed. I understand how frustrating it is and unless you've had a stubborn child you don't understand. I ignore the yelling and name calling and just tell her I love her and she can choose to not sleep but that means no movies the next day. I let her talk to me for a little bit and sing if she wants to. After about 10-15 minutes she seems to be okay. Just change things up and make it seem like bedtime is a privilege. Have her Tuck in the parents one night early and then pretend she gets to stay up and do whatever she wants. She will see it isn't fun and she will want to sleep too. Good luck because I know rebellious children are so difficult. Try asking her what would help her want to go to bed and what kinds of rewards she would want if she goes to sleep. Let her have control over some things.