New- sorry to start off like this! Should there be conseq. for destructive sleep/beh

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Mox, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. Mox

    Mox New Member

    Hi all- glad to have found you. I have 2 adopted girls who will be 8 & 11 this summer. I adopted them both as toddlers when I was single. I got married last summer. I am writing about my oldest daughter who was my niece (my adopted sisters daughter- and was abused and neglected although not "severely") prior to my parenting her) She grew up having night terrors and night "episodes" sleepwalking and talking ...but all this pretty much ended by the time she was 8 or 9. Last night she went to bed angry (regarding the hall light) and when my husband woke, he saw the shelf in the hallway by her room tipped over and all its contents spilled everywhere and the hall light on. She insists she didn't do it. (younger daughter seems genuinely shocked at the scene)

    She is passive aggressive, and she has been known to lie. I also suppose it is possible that she could have done this in her sleep, considering her past. I have no way of knowing. Is it reasonable to hold her responsible for this, even if there is the possibility that she did it in her sleep?
    Thanks ...
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    This is a hard call. I would be tempted to just state how frustrating it is to find that this has happened and ask your older daughter to help you clean it up. As you are cleaning up talk about why someone might do something like this. "I don't understand this. Why do you think someone would do this?" "I know you were angry at bed time last night. Would it have been possible that your anger made you do this?"
  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I don't know that I would blame her at this point. You know the old adage, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". Whatever happened, she either did it while asleep, or she is never going to change her story. Do the girls share the room? If so, it seems fortuitous for her to have destroyed something in the hallway where her sister couldn't give witness to what happened.

    Since this the first time, I would be very careful to not give her a reason to try to prove to you that this is a sleep incident because you don't believe her - even if you don't.

    I would approach her with concern that this must be very upsetting to her that she doesn't know what happened, and of course everyone wants to help her to have a restful night's sleep and to avoid messes and confusion in the morning. Therefore you are going to install a cheap alarm on the exterior of her bedroom door that will go off if she opens her bedroom door in the night so that should she have a sleepwalking incident you or her step-dad will be there to make sure that she is safe and doesn't accidentally walk out the front door and get hit by a car. You and husband will check the alarm nightly before you go to bed to be sure that it is properly attached.

    If she's lying and she did this to get some attention, she'll have gotten the attention, there will be no need to do it again, and she
    won't need to escalate her behavior to get your sympathy. At the same time, you have put the brakes on the behavior without making a fight out of it. It's done and over with, and she doesn't have to prove she was right.
  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I used to sleep walk a lot. I did very slighly destructive things, but kinda remembered it later. I can remember just ripping things. When I was really little, I ripped apart a stuffed toy. I got into trouble for it, but I honestly didn't know that I had done it or even remembered that. Once (so I'm told), when I was about four or five, I painted the walls with a bowel movement. I didn't remember anything. I don't even remember the beating that I got for it either. I apparently slept through it all. So, I suppose, it is possible.

    Has she ever been to a sleep clinic? Sleep walking can be serious and can be dangerous. Sleep apnea, in adults, can lead to cardiomegaly.

    I would probably not punish her, at this point, but I would make her clean it up. I would discuss this with her doctor and then make an appointment with a sleep clinic.

    I know if SaraPA jumps in on this thread, she will likely tell you about night seizures possibly being the cause of some of this behavior.
  5. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Night seizures can cause some of this behavior.

    I'd be interested in a sleep study and make sure a neurologist looks at the results.

    Anything new? Any new medications? Any old medications, for that matter?
  6. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Welcome. I think blame should be avoided in this case, but she should have to show responsibility by helping to clean up the mess. I also think it's unlikely that this is sleep related if the destructiveness is an isolated incident. It sounds like more of an anger management issue.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Lothlorien: "I know if SaraPA jumps in on this thread, she will likely tell you about night seizures possibly being the cause of some of this behavior."

    SaraPA: "Night seizures can cause some of this behavior."

    Oh, I love the way we all bounce off one another! I guess it's because we each bring our own unique experiences to the board and collectively pooled, it's good stuff.

    Mox, welcome. I wouldn't be focussing on punishment at this stage. I would, however, work on natural consequences as well as "It doesn't matter who did this, someone has to clean it up so it has now become a family chore." You all pitch in to help so cleaning up isn't necessarily a punishment. But it IS something that must be done.

    Too often our kids do not see cause and effect. Instead, they don't have the follow-through on how much work they actually can make for us. This way, you're not only getting the job done but you're showing them that life is going to be full of other people's messes that have to be taken care of, regardless of who caused it. We try to get the person responsible to clean up but life isn't always like that. So instead, lesson No 2 is that we support each other in the family, and work as a team. Again, regardless of blame.

    If someone does own up to having done something wrong to cause a mess, then we still might help them clean up - it provides a good opportunity to talk - but we make it clear that we are CHOOSING to help, it is not our responsibility.

    A baby gets a dirty nappy - who cleans it up? The baby can't as yet, because the baby is simply too young. This isn't a blame issue, it's a responsibility issue.
    A toddler dirties his/her pants, who cleans it up? Within the capabilities, the toddler needs to learn to clean up. This again is not punishment, it is responsibility. Again, parents choose to help because it is also a teaching tool. Again, it's not about blame. It's about growth, and getting the job done. Helping each other, working as a team. Toddlers do have accidents, but accident or defiance, the end clean-up job needed is the same.

    difficult child 3 was in a temper and slammed a door at his grandmother's house. The vibration shattered a widow attached to the door frame. difficult child 3 couldn't fix it himself, and to make him pay for the repairs would have been excessive punishment. So instead, husband fixed the window but made difficult child 3 help him. They took the measurements, they sawed apiece of timber to those measurements, difficult child 3 held it in place while husband fastened it to the window frame. So when difficult child 3 sees that bit of timber, he remembers:

    1) he broke the window.

    2) he worked with husband and helped fix it.

    3) It is not the same as it was, but at least it is functional.

    4) When he is older and if it still niggles at him, difficult child 3 can work to replace the bit of wood, with some glass cut to size. Again, husband can help him, or let him do it on his own.

    Is your daughter's temper and sleep problem the cause? Who knows? it is possible that going to bed angry, with a history of sleepwalking issues, could be the cause. Or it could be pure spite. Chances are, she regrets it already. Punishment won't increase any regret.

    I would drop it for now, but keep an eye open in case she is trying to use her sleepwalking history as a cover for deliberate defiant behaviour. Maybe install a camera? And don't tell her about it.

    As for getting her assessed by a sleep disorders clinic, I certainly would if the problem is current (or seemingly current). If the sleepwalking is currently only a cover, then seeing the clinic will be forcing her to confront any deceptive behaviour.

    And if she has a genuine problem, then at least you're checking it out.

    On this site a lot of us recommend reading "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. I've found it very useful in helping me stay in focus with my ultimate aim - raising my children to be well-mannered, productive, independent, happy members of society. I don't want to squash their self-esteem but neither do I want to be walked over. I allow a certain amount of back-talk because it is freedom of speech. But if they leave logic aside and begin to make personal attacks or use bad language without any logic, the debate is shut off. We stay on topic, we discuss, we sort problems out fairly democratically.

    Example: difficult child 3 finds watching stories on TV or film to be confronting. However, he knows we can insist and he will watch, for a little while.
    He is hooked on computer games. We couldn't care less. He wanted me to watch a promo video with a new game system. I didn't want to. He said to me, "You make me watch things I don't want to, and I do it because you ask me too. Now it's my turn to ask you. I think it's only fair tat you watch my five minute video."

    Some people might view that as rude or cheeky, but he said it calmly, he did not say it in an angry way and the logic was impeccable.

    So I watched it. I can't say it enriched my life, but at least I have done it. It was quid pro quo.

    I get a lot of cooperation from difficult child 3, because he also knows we give him a lot of leeway. He knows he owes us.

    It's important to stay focussed - what is the specific problem REALLY? In other words, what is underlying this? And what is the best way to resolve this problem?

    Ini your daughter's situation, the underlying problem seems to be her anger management issues and the possibility she is using excuses to get away with expressing her rage. You don't deal with it by dealing just with the incident. YOu find out why she is angry, how you should have handled it (if your answer here is "the same way" that's OK, you just need to check it over) and how you can handle the anger she still has in order to prevent a recurrence.

    Your daughter's anger has something to do with the hall light - she wants it left turned on? If so, why? This is another problem that needs to be resolved from a family point of view. There needs to be consensus, or some way of keeping as many people happy, as possible.

    If this is an issue of one girl wanting the light on and the other wanting it off, then you dig - why do they want the light on? Is there another way to solve the problem? Maybe a small bedlamp that can be switched on when needed? A nightlight? A torch? The girl wanting it dark could wear an eye mask to bed perhaps, or there could be some other way to screen her bed from the light. Get them to make suggestions and see if there can be a compromise.

    This can be turned from a problem, into a lesson on problem solving and cooperation. By this stage, who is responsible is no longer the main issue. But they can both pitch in and help tidy up the mess.

  8. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I agree with the others. Like Marg, I'm curious about the light issue. If she has anxiety, the light may be comforting for her. Especially, maybe, if she has night terrors. That may be something that you need to work out so she can have something that makes her feel secure.

    My daughter has severe anxiety and for a long time (after I finally got her out of my bed at age 10 or 11), she slept with her light and tv on. Then just her tv. Now the tv is only sometimes. I can tell how anxious she's feeling by it.
  9. Christy

    Christy New Member

    I like Adrianne's idea of not blaming her but asking her to help clean it up while talking about the issue.

    If she feels more secure with the light on, I would leave it on. I guess if it bothers her sis and they share a room it becomes more of an issue but maybe a nightlight close to her bed could help. If she wanted the light out and sis wanted it on then maybe one of those sleep masks would do the trick.