Oh.my.word. My three year old is currently screaming her head off in the classic lying on the floor tantrum position. About 20 minutes ago I woke her from her midday nap.
I have to wake her from her nap otherwise she won’t go to sleep easily this evening. And I have to give her a nap otherwise she’ll be over tired and emotional all afternoon…believe me I’ve tried not giving her one and it is not worth it!
So I have to deal with a post- nap meltdown pretty much every day.
She hides under the cover like a teenager, begs me not to open the curtains and if I try to move her or open the curtains she kicks, lashes out and sobs as if she’s been really, really hurt. She is unconsolable often for up to around 45 minutes.
This makes us late for afternoon arrangements and is well, just pretty unpleasant for us all.
I actually dread going in and waking her up, but I gather the courage and I look at her – so peaceful and serene and I am filled with overwhelming love for this sweet sweaty babe. I think to myself – maybe today’s won’t be so bad… ‘Time to get up darling’, and BOOM it’s like awakening a monster.
Here are the techniques I’ve tried to calm her down:
1. The Slowly Does It
I go in quietly, gently lie down with her for a while, stroke her, give her lots of warnings that it’s time to get up. I don’t open the curtains as understandably it increases the tantrum to another level. This either results in me falling asleep next to her or just delays the inevitable meltdown.
2. The Sibling Distraction
‘Look who’s here to see you!’, ‘Oh look he’s smiling at you!’ *plonk baby next to her* ‘Aaah he wants a cuddle’. This results in a momentary smile and then straight back to tantrum city.
3. The Cuddles
Attempt to cuddle her mid-tantrum and stay super calm saying, ‘I know, I know it’s so hard waking up isn’t it darling’ etc
She does not want cuddles.
4.The Walk Away
When the tantrum has reached a peak, I say, ‘I’m going to leave you to calm down and be back up in a minute’. This backfires and increases the meltdown. She does not want me to go. She also doesn’t want me to touch or talk to her. So I’ll just wait for you here then *writes blog on tantrum whilst waiting*.
5. The Joker
I make up a silly ‘wake up’ song/dance hoping to lure her out with giggles but alas it mainly ends up with me looking like a wally for nothing.
5. The Bribe
I’m ashamed to say this is my most successful tool. ‘Guess what I’ve got downstairs for you’. Tantrum pauses. Quickly think of and pray we have a sugary snack in. Tantrum usually subsides. When I’m feeling particularly nervous about a post-nap meltdown, I wake her up and immediately offer the bribe and this sometimes actually prevents said tantrum occurring in the first place. But I’m not sure this wins me any parenting awards. Ah well it works!
When she has eventually calmed down I ask her, ‘Right sweetheart what was all that about? Can you tell me what was making you feel so sad?’, and she simply answers, ‘I don’t want to get up’.
I mean I get it girl, being woken up when you want to sleep is the worst. MAN DO I KNOW THIS. But really – a 45 minute meltdown? I’m tempted to do this every time I’m woken up early from my desired sleep and maybe she’ll learn to bribe me with fresh coffee and a pastry?!
Anyhow I’m sure others are experiencing this – it can’t just be me? If you are, then please do share any methods that have worked for you. (If, however, your child wakes up gurgling, chatting or even worse, singing, to themselves then I basically do NOT want to hear from you 😉)