Mikey has been having a very hard time going to sleep lately. Okay, let me rephrase. He’s been having a very hard time going to sleep at our house lately. For the most part, he does great for his grandparents. Anyway, here’s what we’ve been dealing with for a while now. He refuses to get in his bed. He screams. He throws stuff. He knocks down the baby gate or he quietly removes the baby gate in hopes that we won’t notice. We’ve tried laying down with him. We’ve tried yelling, taking stuff away, spanking, yelling. Did I say yelling already? From start to finish this process will go on for about an hour and a half nearly every night. This has been going on for months. Some nights it’s a little better than others. When he finally does fall asleep it’s usually on the floor surrounded by toys and it’s usually 9:30. By that time Phillip and I are emotionally and sometimes physically spent.
For the last week we have been enforcing a new rule (until tonight…more about that later). The rule has been “if you open the baby gate, you get spanked”. I don’t like this rule. Phillip doesn’t like this rule. We don’t like spanking him. We honestly don’t think it does one bit of good for him. But anyway, that’s the rule that we decided upon. We knew it would be a very clear cause and affect thing that he could understand. We did not count on his need to win to be as strong as it has been. So for about a week, that’s what we’ve been doing. And countless times, over and over again, he will open the gate and we will follow through and spank him. One evening Phillip went over to gate to put it back up and as he was getting ready to swat Mikey for opening it, Mikey was already opening it again.
Sometimes he will open it very quietly and try to sneak down the hall. We always know but he keeps trying it anyway. One evening I was at the computer when he sneaked out of his room. He tiptoed very quietly down the hall towards my office. He was being so careful not to make any noise that he didn’t see me at the computer. I let him get about 2 feet from me before I startled him with “What do you think you’re doing?!”
Once he finally goes to sleep we go in to check on him and put him in bed if he’s not already. And every night for the past week the gate has been opened slightly. It’s like his final “stick it to the man” before he drifts off.
A couple of days ago at my mom’s house, I forgot to mention to her that he crawled out of the crib at Phillip’s parent’s house. So my mom put him down for his nap in her crib like usual, told him to go to sleep and left the room. He was quiet for a while and she peeked in to check on him. He was sitting in the recliner reading a book.
Earlier today Phillip and I were discussing about what we should do. We are honestly at a loss. The spankings obviously aren’t working. They do not bother him in the slightest. And my concern is that spanking him will only make him more aggressive and nobody wants that. And in all honesty, we don’t really need to be spanking him after listening to him scream and throw stuff for an hour. By that time our nerves our shot. Our patience is gone. We’re sick of it. So we decided to just close the gate every time he opens it…over and over and over and over until he finally gives up and goes to sleep. We figured it would basically be the same outcome just without us feeling guilty about spanking him so much.
Tonight I put him in his room and put the gate up. He started to scream like he always does. I very calmly told him that every time he opens the gate I will come close it. He only opened the gate twice! He only cried a tiny bit. He played and looked at books quietly in his room for almost an hour and a half. Finally I heard him softly say “MiMi” which is what he calls me. I went and peeked at him and he raised his arms for me to hold him. I gave in and picked him up and he was asleep in my arms in 5 minutes.
It still took him an hour and a half to go to sleep. But at least tonight there was no yelling, no spanking, very little crying, and I got to snuggle with my baby for a little while. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow night brings.