This afternoon I visited the post adoption support team, mainly to get clarification that what we are doing is correct with regards to bedtime and to get some tips which support the therapeutic parenting style.
They were so welcoming and once we had taken care of some admin they let me just blurt it all out. To be honest it felt a bit like therapy, they listened and stepped in every now and then with supportive words.
They quickly came to the conclusion that the anxieties at bed time (either refusing to go to bed and often getting wound up and kicking off, or waking in the night with an anxious tummy ache, which have been since a tummy bug) are brought on my fear. By fear of loosing us, or me in particular.
They thought that a sleep time table would work well for him. I hope this helps anyone else that may need it.
We went though the time table when I picked him up from his grandparents house and told him what was going to happen. We talked about each icon and that it was a super challenge. I told him we were going to use a timer on my phone and that it will take 30 minutes for bedtime (we over ran but it will get quicker). He chose the sound on my timer so felt like he had a bit of control. He also loves a challenge.
(Come on, who wouldn't want to sleep in this amazing bed!!)
Another tip they gave me was to give him something ‘really special’ of mine to look after for the night and give back to me in the morning (this cements his understanding that I will be there in the morning) so I found a small teddy that the husband gave me years back, sprayed some perfume on it and told Cub that it was my very special teddy but daddy keeps squashing him at night and could he look after him for me? He took this very seriously and told me he would never loose him and he would take great care of him at night time for me.
They also suggested photos of us as a family put up next to his bed, which I sorted out ready for him, and a photo cushion with our family photo on for him to cuddle and can take with him on family sleep overs. So I've ordered one of those to arrive soon.
So we started the bedtime routine with some calm down time (he chose reading a story, but later regretted this choice, note for tomorrow, play a quiet game!) we stuck to the timer and it worked. He got out of the bath when the timer went off (I gave him a 2 minutes to go heads up) he decided we would do story time on our bed and when the timer went off he went into his bed. At this point I’m feeling like this is bloody amazing but don’t want to believe it because I can feel a kicking off brewing. It’s all going far too well!!
He got into bed and checked his sheet. We sang a song and then he decided that he was not actually going to go to bed (FFS) he started to play up and throw his teddies around (the beginning of a complete melt down). The social workers words ringing in my ears “nip it in the bud before he goes from amber to red”. I tried distracting with a song, and then remembered them saying about relaxation and massage. So I suggested in a calm voice, repeatedly, that he needs to be relaxed and that I’m going to help his body to calm down. We pretended he was on a beach on holiday with the sun shining. I massaged his feet all the way up to his neck, he then turned over and I repeated this, pulling the covers up as I’d finished each body part. He snapped out of his mood and became sleepy again. I spoke calmly to him throughout saying how tired each part of his body was. He then told me he needed a hot water bottle, which I went and got, then I told him that the lights are out, and I will stay until his music stops (on his monitor) and then I am going to go downstairs. I reassured him mummy is always here and I not going far.
When the music stopped I got up and I walked out. Said I love you and he said it back. No moaning. No kicking off. No begging. He let me leave the room!!
He fell asleep by himself!!
In the morning I’m going to make a huge fuss of him and tell him how genuinely proud I am of him.
Night one is a winner. It could do with being more seamless, but that will come in time and only time will tell if this carries on in the right direction.
This method won’t work for all children but I hope there are a few tips you can use if you’re in the same position as us with a fearful controlling child (a bloody amazing little boy as well, who I love so so much).
All views expressed are that I’ve learned and my own experience, I do not claim to know what I’m doing in any shape or form, I’m doing what I can and in the best interests of my child and his background and needs to ensure we all stay sane at bed time.
Much love, Z x