5 year old with sleep problems & tantrums that are out of control
by Marlene Scheepers
Question: My daughter is 5 and has ADD. She takes Concerta and Risperdal everyday. She screams at me so badly that she ends up losing her voice. She shoves 4 fingers down her throat during her tantrums as well and makes herself gag. She bashes stuff..the list just goes on.
Anything can trigger her, eg. her toy pram was in the middle of her room so I put it away to one side and she went absolutely baserk. Started screaming and hitting things, rolling on the floor...that lasted around 30 mins or so just because of the pram.
The list goes on and on and she throws these tantrums everyday without fail. School says she is an angel there they have no idea what I am talking about. She seems to do this to her father(we are separated), myself and grandparents. The level of cheek and defiance from her is unbelievable.
I have tried everything, charts, time outs, taking stuff away etc. she just screams and performs louder. She speaks to myself and my boyfriend whom we live with very very badly. She can on the other hand be the most loving, talkative, and helpful child.
She has started wetting her bed the last 4 nights in a row and the last 2 1/2 months now she constantly wakes every 10-20 minutes from 12pm to 4h30am when she gets up for the day.
She has exhausted me to the extent where I just can't do it anymore....between the tantrums and the lack of sleep I just don't know what to do. I'm going to need psychological help if this continues.
Answer: I think that the tantrums are probably related to her sleep problems. I have some great pages on ways to help with sleep problems and deal with tantrums.
I would also consider that her medications are not working for her. I don't necessarily mean that she should be on more, but maybe less or something different. Talk to her psychiatrist (if a family doctor is prescribing these you need to switch to a good child psychiatrist). The sleep problems may be caused by them as well as the bed wetting.
The most important thing to remember is to respond consistently. If you make the consequence a time out then stick with that, if it's losing a privelege or toy, stick with that. The fact that she gets worse and louder is actually a sign that it's working.
Bad behavior usually gets much worse before it gets better unfortunately. So, you have to stick it out and be consistent for 2-3 weeks and then it should gradually get better. However, if she learns that by getting worse and louder you give in or stop giving her consequences then you are actually just making the behavior even worse the next time.
I think one of the best consequences is loss of TV, video game or other electronic favorites. Even better may be that she has to earn them. You could divide the day into 1 hour sections and she can earn a ticket for every hour that she goes without having a huge meltdown.
Then each ticket can be redeemed for 10 minutes of TV or computer game time. She can save them up to get enough for a movie by the end of the day. This of course takes discipline as a parent, especially if you allow a lot of TV watching, which by the way can contribute to tantrums due to possibly overstimulating a child.
More than two hours of TV a day can be very overstimulating to a child, especially if they have not slept well causing an increase in irritability. This may be why she does better at school too, since they probably don't watch TV there.
You may even allow her to earn a special activity she loves on the weekend (bowling, park etc.) if she earns all of her tickets each day that week.
I also highly recommend the following book. It gives great ideas for logical consequences and walks you through on a way to deliver those consequences without necessarily getting the angry reaction you are talking about.
It makes the child perceive the consequences as the result of their choices and behavior instead of you just 'being mean' and directing their anger at you.
Child's Sleep Problem
Two year old boy sleepless nightsQuestion about a child's sleep problem:
My 2 year old son wakes after 3-4 hours of sleep, then he stays awake for 3-4 hours. Then back to sleep for 3-4 hours. Also he is delayed in speech and has tantrums very often. I am in desperate need of help. Please give me some suggestions?Answer:
Dealing with a child's sleep problem can be very stressful and definitely affects behavior. I can completely identify with your struggles, as my son has also had a sleep problem on and off since he was born. We found that while his sleep still has some ups and downs at times, the following strategies are what have worked the best:
Make sure to have a consistent bedtime routine and bed time every night as well as a consistent wake up time. You may have to develop a routine that takes 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to bedtime to give him adequate time to prepare himself for sleep.
This may start with sitting down to do a quiet activity, taking a bath, massaging lavender lotion onto your child's body (lavender has calming properties), reading some books, rocking and then listening to calming music. Do it in the same order every night and do a mini version at nap time.
You may need to establish an earlier bedtime such as between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. depending on the time he wakes up from his nap. If your child's getting over stimulated and then crashing to fall asleep at night he will have a hard time staying asleep.
Many parents don’t realize this and especially when a child has a hard time sleeping they tend to put a child to sleep later thinking this will make them sleep longer, but it actually only makes a child's sleep problem even worse.
If your child's usual bedtime is much later than this, gradually make it earlier each night by 20 minute increments until you get to the earlier time. You should be able to tell when a good bedtime is based on when you notice him starting to get quiet at night with less activity and less vocalizations.
If he is running around in displaying hyperactive behaviro in the evening before bed, then he got over stimulated causing his body to release cortisol to fight the fatigue which results in difficulty staying asleep.
Avoid any television at least 1-2 hours prior to his bedtime and possibly even 3-4 hours prior as this causes the hormone melatonin to decrease in the body, which is responsible for helping us fall asleep and stay asleep.
Also try to limit your child's TV watching to no more than 2 hours per day, but preferably even less as the American Pediatrics Association did a study that showed as little as 2 hours of TV per day affected a child's ability to sleep.
You can read more tips on my page about dealing with a child's sleep problem
that I highly recommend putting these into practice for at least 2-3 weeks in order to see results. When he wakes up at night avoid turning on any lights and keep stimulation to a minimum trying to only perhaps play more calming music and rocking.
I know that can be challenging, but it is well worth it in the long run if you just promise to yourself to give it at least 3 weeks of consistent effort. However, if after consistently
doing this for 3 weeks you do not see any results there some other things to consider.
The following book is a great resource for help with a sleep problem.
Chances are that the speech delay, behavior issues and temper tantrums are related to his lack of sleep. This is simply because a child's sleep problem can cause irritability and make it difficult to pay attention well enough during the day to learn.
Unfortunately, a combination of all of these things may also be an indication of an underlying problem, such as sensory processing disorder (SPD)
or possibly even autism signs and behavior
So, be sure to check out the symptoms for both of these and speak to your pediatrician about your concerns. If you suspect SPD, you will want to have him evaluated by an occupational therapist to get help with treatment options that will not only help with speech, but also sleep and tantrums.
These may include the wilbarger brushing protocol
and developing a sensory diet, both which helped my son with his sleep.
Finally, although this option may not be for all individuals, we have been working with a chiropractor and holistic nurse practitioner to discover underlying health conditions that contribute to sleep difficulties for our son.
Some of these conditions include; candida yeast overgrowth
, toxic metal exposure (mercury, aluminum, and/or lead), blood sugar imbalances, food allergies/sensitivities, and medications (if he takes any asthma meds, these can especially cause problems with sleep and behavior).
In working to resolve his underlying health conditions with natural supplements and removing foods that he was sensitive to, our son’s sleep problem has gradually gotten better. He may still wake up at night because he has to go to the bathroom or is hot/cold, but we are able to just put him right back to sleep instead of having 2-3 hours of fighting to get him back to sleep.
So, I also strongly recommend considering this option. Here is another great book that talks about some of these underlying health conditions.
If you haven't already, be sure to download my free eBook with the best tips and techniques for helping all children by clicking the image below!