"Parents cannot effectively communicate their love to a child unless they are also a source of effective authority. "

Wishing for Silent Nights

Question

My daughter just turned two. About six weeks ago (two weeks before the arrival of our new baby), she started having issues going to bed. When we lay her down, she tries to think of any excuse to delay us leaving the room. When we finally do leave, she screams. The timing isn't consistent, but her crying/screaming can last from 10-60 minutes. Nighttime is worse than naptime. It seems that the only way to consistently meet her emotional needs is to be in the room with her. We've become pros of her excuses, so we preemptively meet all her possible needs, give her something to look forward to after going down, make her bed cozy, leave a couple animals and books in bed. We tell her she doesn't have to sleep, but she must keep her head on her pillow. I make her say "goodnight" before I leave the room. What am I missing?

She used to go to sleep no problem. It was like a switch just flipped. This also happened at 18 months when she started talking much more. She grew out of it after a couple months and us staying in the room with her until she fell asleep.

Answer

Hello, and thank you for your question. I can pretty much guarantee that your 2 year old daughter will be able to handle her sleep routine without difficulty again one day. Right now she's looking for some extra connection time and attention. Give it to her in a simple way that you and your husband are comfortable with implementing. Maybe you could take turns putting her to bed, and each of you can have your own special routine, whether it's in the songs, stories or prayers you choose.

I understand that the screaming isn't okay for the rest of the family and you would like it to stop. I recommend telling her that she must stay in her room after you say goodnight. If you don't want to shut the door, you could turn it into a Dutch door so she doesn't feel caged. If you have to put a lock on the outside, do it. If you know that she's safe and she knows that you're in charge her difficulties around bedtime should decrease in a short time.

Or, you can wait it out. When our son was 2, he wandered into our bedroom pretty much every night in the wee hours for about 6 months. He stopped on his own without any discussion. The more attention you give the situation, the more frustrated everyone will be. Whatever you choose to do, be calm, cool and consistent.

Please write again if you need further support. Wishing you peaceful evenings!

Warmly,
Wendy Faucett
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
wendyfaucett@gmail.com
Facebook: Love & Leadership Parent Coaching

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