Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Light Errors"

Let’s start by making it clear that I am not talking about an error with lighting here. I’m talking about something that rhymes with light errors that involves a child waking and screaming throughout the night. I don’t want to come up in any search engines. So now that we’re clear, I’ll move on.

We’ve only noticed it completely in the last couple of months. Liv has always been a poor sleeper, waking several times a night to be covered, whining or just gritching about uncomfortably. It’s escalated over the last few months though. Yelling. Crying. Speaking incoherently. It happens more nights than not, and you can’t wake her up. She’s never been terrified, and for that I am grateful. Usually it’s just general discomfort and angst. We figured she was working some things out in her sleep. She…doesn’t get her way a lot because her way is usually unreasonable. And it feels like it is us against her a lot of the time. But as her sleep has gotten worse, we were really starting to worry, and I wasn’t sleeping because I was up with her half the night while she screamed and thrashed.

I had planned on making an appointment with her pediatrician to discuss all of this, when she ended up getting a sinus infection and we had to go in for a sick call anyway. We went through all of that, and then I brought up the sleep issues. I told the pediatrician everything—and seriously, bless her, she sat and talked to Hub and me about all of it for 45 minutes. On a day when we were just an add on appointment, we must have screwed up her whole day. Just because she is not fearful doesn’t mean it isn’t light errors, apparently. She’s definitely trying to work things out that she can’t or doesn’t when she’s asleep. The doctor went on to give us some tips for trying to stop them before they start, and right there is where I have some issues.

Liv by nature is a very difficult child. She is a limit tester. She believes that her way is the only way. She will stop at nothing to get her way. And even when she knows she will be punished, she will still do what she wants to do. She would rather get her way and accept the consequences than not do what she wanted to do in the first place. So there is a lot of Liv being in some sort of trouble at any given time. With all of this in mind, here are the doctor’s suggestions:

1. Let her have her way more often. If it’s not dangerous or causing problems for other family members, try letting her go. Hub and I are really big on rule following up in here. One of our big ones is that nobody gets up from the table until we are all done eating. This is one of the examples the doctire used. Just let her go. I…struggle with this.
2. Eliminate things that potentially make her nervous. We were thinking along the lines of the dancing Santa, who she wanted out of her room because she didn’t want him to see her being bad. The doctor recommended that we walk her around the house and ask her what makes her nervous and then show her that we were getting rid of it. The first night we walked around, and a dirty pair of underwear she’d left laying around made her nervous. Then last night, it was a Santa hat she’d left on the floor. She’s yanking our chain.
3. Even if she doesn’t eat any dinner, let her have a snack before bed. If Liv eats 2 bites of dinner any given night I consider it a success. I have a hard time getting behind letting her snack when she doesn’t listen and our rule is no dinner, no snacks. This one is workable though…I can get past my issues if potential hunger is affecting her.
4. Don’t let her watch any TV with scary images. This one is not hard either. Bud watches a lot of Star Wars and while it doesn’t seem scary, and while Liv’s favorite song to hum is the Imperial March and she wanted to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween, we’re putting a temporary ban on the movies while she is awake.
5. Don’t yell at her at bedtime. Even if she gets up and calls to be covered 247 times, keep it relaxing and calm. This one will be hard. Like I said—she is a limit tester, and she is SMART. She will figure it out if suddenly I am soft. Bedtime has never been the best time of the night for her, and even after you give her everything she wants, she still gets out of bed and needs things and is just generally obnoxious.

So last night I let her have a bowl of cheerios at bedtime even though she ate dinner. Then I sang her 5 songs instead of the agreed upon 3, I cheerfully covered her 4 times, and let her get 3 drinks from her water bottle. She slept all night. This may be a fluke, because her antibiotic makes her tired. It seems like we’re going to have a lot of trial and error going forward, but the plan is to try and stop them before they start. And thankfully, Shannon has given me some tricks to help Liv when the errors do happen. So I guess we shall see what we shall see. But hopefully we can make some progress, and all of us can get some sleep.

7 comments:

Shalini said...

I have absolutely NO ADVICE, but I too suffered from light errors when I was younger and I only wish my parents did something about it. Liv's a lucky girl to have you!

Nik-Nak said...

I think every single thing the doctor recommended is on the spot. Just from what I read I get the sense that, of course, y'all are very rule oriented as a household and maybe she feels the need to break free from those restraints and it is manifesting in her sleep.

Mrs. Irritation said...

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. Sorry SHE is having to deal with this.

I get your hesitation though, esp as a person with strict house rules. I know if it were me I would fear letting things go for fear it would create a disrespect for rules all around. If you let her get away with stuff, then will the others follow suit and want to get away with the same stuff? And the getting a snack even with no dinner being eaten - that is a big no in our house too but clearly there are larger issues with priority. I hope you find ways that work for you and your family.

Take one night at a time - at least you're starting on a positive first night!

Doing My Best said...

Wow. I am a rule person too...so I cringed at most of those suggestions when I read them. Once I got past my initial "But we have rules for a GOOD REASON!" reaction, I reflected further, and this is what I would try to do, if I was in your situation (feel free to delete if none of this is helpful!!):

1. Purposely CREATE times when I could let the child get her way without driving me crazy. I would try the old "Love and Logic" give the child choice A and choice B (and then try not to bang my head against the wall when she picked choice V EVERY! STINKING! TIME!).

2. That one's tricky, especially if you know she's just messing with you. I would try to NOTICE (instead of asking her again) which things were making her nervous, and then mention to her that I had noticed that ____ made her nervous, so I was going to move it/give it away/get rid of it.

3. I would have a hard time letting go of this one too (the power struggle! respect for the cook! the complaining!)....and sleep is probably the ONLY THING (besides health) that would motivate me to change that rule, but if I just couldn't bear to do it, I would make sure that I offered her her favorite, semi-healthy food at each meal. (I would also talk to the other siblings about this before hand so that there was not a mutiny at the table. We talk FREQUENTLY at my house about how everyone is different and needs different things, so everybody doesn't get to do/have the same things, blah, blah, blah.) Then I could be sure she would at least meet the requirements for having a snack later, even if the only two bites she ate were of her favorite thing (some favorites of my picky eaters have been: cheese (sliced or grated), cut up apples, olives, the white part of a hard-boiled egg, bread or bread with honey...).

5. I would have a hard time with this one too! Hmmm...I think I would do all of the things she asked for at night, but then, the next day when she wanted me to do something, I would look at her sadly and say, "Oh, I would REALLY like to do that, but I did so many things for you last night that I wasn't able to get the rest I needed, and now I'm too tired. Maybe you'll be able to fall asleep faster tonight and I'll get the rest I need and we can do that tomorrow!" (Or I would console myself with a pint of my favorite ice cream once she was FINALLY asleep for the night, either way...)

Good luck! This is a HARD thing; I hope you are able to quickly find some things that work for you so you can get some sleep!!

StephLove said...

No advice, I just hope it's resolved soon. Good luck!

CAQuincy said...

Mary had light errors when she was around 2. She just...eventually grew out of it. Maybe it had something to do with the new baby brother coming into the house, and she just had to adjust, I don't know? BUT--Mary STILL sleep-walks and talks in her sleep. It went away for a while, but it has started coming back again. I think she is just plain exhausted with swimming every night, and we need to get her to bed earlier.

Keith used to wake up a lot when he was little, and we couldn't console him. Once he got potty-trained, we made the discovery that he just needed to go to the bathroom and did not want to get up to go and just sat there in his bed holding it and crying about it. Even now, if he wakes up and shouts out, my first response to him is, "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" And that's usually it.

OK. That said, John and I go back and forth on a lot of these "control" issues a lot of the time, too. WHEN are we being too strict as parents, and when can we just let things go? What kills me is that the two of us change our own positions constantly, and we're hardly ever on the same page at the same time. Argh!

But if you do decide to relax on the bedtime snack thing, I suggest you relax it for the other two, also. Just make sure it's healthy stuff, obviously. We usually end up giving out a simple snack in the evenings because we are so much on the go (and THEN there is the fighting over dinner). But they are limited to what they can have: an apple, a banana, a clementine. But no snacks after 8:15-ish (unless they just got home from a sports clinic and are STARVING) as then they need to get their butts in bed, and there is not enough time to eat.

This goes against everything WE want to accomplish at the dinner table, too, but maybe you could let Liv color or look at books at the table if she's "done" eating while everyone else is finishing their dinner. She's still sitting with the family (albeit, not CONVERSING with them), and maybe the option of coloring a paper place mat like at a restaurant will keep her there--and maybe just being in the presence of the food while doing something "fun" will get her to grab a few more bites? (I think I would still be, "you have to eat three bites before you get your crayons out.")

And, yes, I always try to make a least ONE item each kids will eat. It's very, very tough, though with all those different personalities/tastes. I've been having each kid pick our dinner and help me cook more often, which is helping a LITTLE with that.

Misty said...

I think there is a difference from being 'soft' and just handling things calmly, without reaction. (I know this because I am a yeller. Sigh. The temptation to lose my shit is always there.)

You are going to make it, boo. I know. You are a good mama.