Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Unexplained Behavior Issues of a Kid- Sleep problems

Is sleep hard for any of your kids? It was for my first born A. Since he was a baby he was difficult to put to sleep for the night. We had to wiggle and swing and jig for 30 minutes, you know, from Dr. Karp "Happiest Baby on the Block." (I did develop some great biceps though). Yes, I bought the book, the DVD and even paid to take a class with some certified in his technique. I figured my husband and I were just not doing things right. (On a good note, these techniques worked fine for my other boys and some of my friends).

We didn't look forward to our evening routine (I still wonder how we ended up with 3 children since out first born was so difficult). My husband and I would argue over who's turn it was to put the baby to sleep for the night. It did get easier to put him in bed around age 1 until he turned 2, until we put his baby brother in the room with him. At first it was great. Then A would get bored and wake the baby and try to get him to laugh and talk. The baby would eventually fall asleep, but A would not. (My husband and I figured we were to blame for his poor sleep habits because we had to bounce him around so much as a baby to get him to fall asleep. Now we know that was part of his "sensory craving" from his sensory processing disorder).

Our son  would stay up until 9pm, 10pm, and even 11pm and be back up between 5-6am the next morning. (The advice of letting our child stay up later so they would sleep in more does NOT apply to A). We would sit on the bed with him, put him on timeout in the hallway until he seemed to calm down, walk in to the bedroom every time he got up and put him back down (like we saw in SuperNanny). Nothing worked!

Bed time was a nightmare for us because his behavior in preschool was causing a lot of concern too and the only correlation we could find, at the time, was his lack of sleep. I would research online, talk to his doctor and therapist who said "just keep doing what you are doing and be consistent." Bottom line: Everyone assumed we were not consistent and believed if we continued to do what we said we were doing, things should get better. (Our moms stayed overnight during the week so we have proof we were consistent)!

When A was five we had the opportunity to move cities and we did! Better neighborhood, better house, better schools, parks galore, and a room for A to have to himself in the new home. This helped us because our other two younger children could share a room and A could be in his room where he wouldn't wake his brothers.

Then A decided that when mommy and daddy went to their bedroom to retire for the night, he would then explore the house and get into things he wasn't supposed to. Sigh...just when we thought things might get easier.

Next step was placing a child latch on his door to keep him in his room. We would then check on him every 30 minutes until he was asleep and then unlatch his door. (We wanted him to be able to leave his room in case of an emergency). We also attached child locks to the doors leading to the outside since we were afraid he may decide to leave the house one evening out of boredom.

Around the same time we were getting A diagnosed for ADHD (age 5) the doctor recommend melatonin after our concern with our sleep battle. I believe a combination of the gluten-free diet he was placed on, the work he was doing at Stowell Learning Center (teaching him to relax and how it feels to relax) and the melatonin have contributed to the change in his sleep behavior.

We don't use the child latch anymore (rarely), he doesn't take as much melatonin at night, and sometimes we forget and he doesn't take any at all, and he is usually asleep within 30 minutes of placing him in his room (unless he is wound up like any child after an exciting event).

Although my husband and I are still attentive to A's sleep at night (we are hard-wired to be alert after years of difficulty with A), we an now have more peace of mind knowing he is getting good sleep and not sneaking around the house at night. Of course, we still use the child locks on the outside doors, just to be safe. :)

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