Wednesday 14 October 2015

Bedtime Tantrums

For the last few weeks (pretty much since we got back), Nathan has been throwing a tantrum whenever we tell him it's time for bed.  The usual tools aren't working.

We've tried giving him transition warnings.  He'll accept them quite cheerfully and then still throw a massive fit when it's time.

We've tried cutting back on screen access before bed.  (The computer, iPad and XBox all make it more likely for him to throw a tantrum.)  Hasn't made a difference.

We've tried a "reward for good behaviour" system where the clock begins when we tell him it's time to go to bed and if he wastes time by throwing a tantrum, he doesn't have time for a story.  That actually made things worse.  We held on for two weeks to see if it was a behaviour bubble, but it wasn't.

It's getting exhausting going through the same drama every night with no chance to avoid it.  Nathan always has an excuse as to why he's upset: Alex took his toys, he doesn't want to go first, he wants to keep playing, he forgot to do something, it's not fair that he has to go to bed, he's not tired, we're being mean to him.

Our Disney trip drove home to me that Nathan doesn't have good insight into his own behaviour.  It doesn't matter how much warning he's got, once he gets upset, all bets are off.  Which means we need to avoid him becoming upset but since the problem appears to be that we need him to go to bed, I don't think we can.

I'm trying to help him become more aware of his feelings and the impact of his actions on others.  I want him to be able to realize he's getting upset and take steps to regulate himself, rather than relying on other people accommodating to him.  It bothers me greatly that he always seems to blame someone else for his tantrums.  We've had several talks that we are all responsible for our own behaviour and for the impact of our behaviour, but he seems to take it as "people should be nice to me so I don't get upset".  It's logical but misses the point.

I don't want to expect too much from him.  He's only eight, so I don't expect him to be mature and understanding all the time.  Most of the time he does very well.

Hopefully I can find a way to extend that to bedtime, too.

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