Hannah has always been one to love routines. I love them too so I can totally understand where she comes from, but sometimes her love of routines can cause her undue stress. For example, one of her current most endearing routines is the final segment of her bedtime routine. After being tucked in and kissed good night Hannah MUST say and the adult putting her to bed MUST repeat (or hysterics are involved) the following sequence as sort of a call and response as we are walking out the door.
H: I love you
M or D: I love you
H: Sweet dreams
M or D: Sweet dreams
M or D: Bye
M or D: Goodnight
This sequence used to be repeated over and over again multiple times until it was timed just perfectly to slip out the door and lock it before she could start it again. There were times I must have said it 10 times through or more. If we stopped in the middle or tried to tell her we weren't going to say it anymore OR if we didn't hear her start the sequence again as we were shutting the door then she would scream hysterically something to the order of "I need sweet dreams Mommy." or whatever portion we failed to repeat. Ignoring the hysterics were no use and one just had to suck it up and go back in there and finish up the sequence. At first I thought she was using it as a stalling technique since she is a MASTER at stalling, especially before bedtime, but as time went on I realized that it was a comfort routine for her that helped her settle down to sleep. Still there came a point where comfort or not, eventually I could take it no longer. I sat her down about an hour prior to nap time one day and told her we were only going to say I love you, sweet dreams, bye, goodnight one time and then we were going to leave. I reminded her of this fact as we were getting ready for her nap and then again just as the sequence was about to start. After the end of the sequence that nap she asked, "One time?" and I replied, "Just one time." and that was the end of that. She lay down and went to sleep. I congratulated myself for my brilliance and wondered why I hadn't done this sooner, after all Hannah is a smart girl and can often be reasoned with if she's not already on the path towards a meltdown. At bedtime that same night I reminded Hannah about the new one time rule and then went on about her bedtime routine. When we got to the final goodnight she again questioned, "One time?" Again I answered, "Just one time." Just as I was about to shut the door she said, "All done?" and I replied, "All done," and quickly shut the door. From that day on, "one time?" and "all done" became added to the nightly goodnight sequence, but so far the cycle has stopped there. Hopefully I have not replaced one monster with another that will cause this sequence to grow in length continually instead of merely repeating itself, but right now we are holding steady. So, I choose to continue to think my one time rule was brilliant and can fully enjoy a sweet goodnight exchange with my daughter.
Speaking of comfort, Hannah has been having a lot of anxiety lately and has been really leaning heavily on any sort of comfort she can find and has developed some new "techniques" I'll call them to bring herself comfort. The first one is sleeping with the light on. Every night or nap time we turn out her light after her story. She then lays down for us to sing her a song. After the song she says, "I can turn the light on if I want to?" She waits until we are done with her routine and we are out of the room and then she gets out of bed and turns her light back on. I don't think she's scared of the dark. She could be, but she hasn't verbalized any fear about the darkness or monsters or anything. So, I just think it's a comfort thing. She likes her light on and it's comforting for her to have control over turning it on. Another comfort thing she's developed is constantly asking questions she already knows the answer to to get reassurance. For example, lately she's been a bit shy about big dogs. I'm not sure what sparked this hesitation, but it's there. Whenever we are going somewhere where she knows there will be a dog she says where she wants the dog to be in the form of a question. Here's an example, "Finn will be in the barn?" or "Sidney will be outside?" She knows that most likely those dogs WON'T be where she says they will be and seems to just be looking for reassurance that she needs to prepare herself for the dog and that she'll be ok.
I don't think I posted earlier on Hannah's Halloween experience. This year we were invited to go trick or treating with some friends of ours. Last year we didn't take Hannah trick or treating. She just dressed up in her costume and helped pass out candy. We also went this year to the Halloween open house that the gym where Hannah has gymnastics at had. They had several obstacle courses set up for the kids and the gym was all decorated for Halloween. It was a blast and Hannah didn't want to leave to go trick or treating when it was time to go! I was worried about how she would do trick or treating. I thought the other kids in costume might scare her or going up and talking to all those strangers would freak her out, but she did great! She was a little shy, but by the end of the night she was boldly walking up to houses alone and saying trick or treat and even remembering to say thank you! I was so proud of my little girl!