In the last week, my daughter has decided that she no longer wants to sleep. She figured out how to climb out of her crib, so we are trying to transition her to the big-girl bed, but she won’t stay in it. I have put her back in bed about 20 times tonight, and have given up…her door is closed, and I suppose she will play in there until she is so exhausted that she falls asleep on the floor. She pulled the same thing at nap time, and never napped at all. She was so tired that she fell asleep in her high chair while eating dinner! I am at my wits end! Can anyone help me? What can you do with a very, very stubborn 2-year-old?
Here is one method that I’ve heard can work:
Starting tonight, put her in her bed and sit on the floor in her room, not looking at her or talking to her. Every time she gets up, firmly put her back in bed without interaction. Stay there until she finally gives up and goes to sleep. Do it again tomorrow night, and the night after, and every night until she stops getting up. It may take hours the first couple of nights, but it WILL work, most likely with a few nights. Don’t get discouraged, it does work.
Take her out for vigorous excercies, trot her around, exaust her, life is so exciting that she doesn’t want to miss anything! My kid was/is like this. The reward is that they seize life with vigour and do very well in school and sports, but I know it’s really tiring for you and you will not have evenings to yourself ever again! You’ve got to work with who the person is, don’t try to fit her into the ideal child slot. My daughter used to kick her legs while lying in bed - “they’re just not tired yet, mum”
I’m probably the world’s worst mother, because I so did whatever worked. We started making the transition to the “big bed” with a mattress on the floor. Many times, the easiest way to get him to settle was to lie down beside him. When he was asleep, I’d make my exit. If he awakened at night, I’d go in and lie down beside him until he fell asleep again, then I’d slip back out. Or not, if I fell deeply asleep.
I suppose I was indulging him, but we both slept better.
He’s 11 now and seems pretty normal.
When I was two-ish and wouldn’t go to sleep–and would cry until I got sick (Didn’t take much cleaning vomit out of shag carpet to make my mother decide that letting me cry was not a good option)–my parents came up with a routine something like this–watch Letterman, read a chapter of Heidi (they read, I listened), Count to 200, lights out go to sleep.
They were tickled pink when I said one night, “I’m really tired, can we skip the counting?”
Well, she’s finally asleep…my husband laid down on her bed pretended to sleep. She said, “I want up there,” so he put her on the bed with him, and he said she was asleep in about 1 minute…guess her exhaustion finally won out.
I think I’m going to try your suggestion tomorrow night, trublmakr…I have heard this technique works, as well. I did it for about 45 minutes, but I guess I gave up too soon. I am not very patient, which is not a good quality in the parent of a 2-year-old!
I had a brother that was so ‘anti-sleep’ he drove my mother to tieing him to the bed. (in his crib)
One night she heard him crying 'Help!". She went in and he had gotten some of the rope off himself but was hanging by his ankle upside down. When she put him back in bed and started to re-tie him he said “Don’t tie me up any more mommy.” “Well, stay in your bed.” “OK.” and he never got out of the crib again.
This is what my aunts* did for me when I was a child…They’d each grab an arm of mine and walk me back and forth across the flat roof (in India), back and forth, until I was drooping with exhaustion. Otherwise I’d eb up half the night jumping on their heads, as they said.
*Spent my first four years with these wonderful ladies.
Strip the room of anything dangerous and anything interesting (in my son’s case this ended with a mattress on the floor, bedding and blankie).
Tuck the kiddie up, read a story, sing a song, pat and cuddle as you tuck them up, leave the room.
On the outside of the room you have a hook and eye! Hook it up, and leave the kid to her own devices.
I did spend the first few nights doing the controlled crying thing of letting him yell for five minutes and then going in and patting him for a minute, then extending the time by a minute each time. Unfortunately like you I am not very patient and I was also very, very tired so one night I fell asleep before the yelling ended. No idea how long he yelled but it cured him!
And before anyone yells child cruelty, we lived in a tiny apartment and the door to his bedroom was next to the sofa in the living room, so we were literally inches apart. I also was accutely tuned into his cries and knew very well what was just rage at playtime being ended, and what was genuine distress.
She’s got the* Jimmy Legs!!!*
I’m in the “wear her out” corner. Also, you might try feeding her shortly before bedtime. I know a full stomach always makes me sleepy. And maybe a radio or some other form of background entertainment in her room. Maybe she just feels lonely.
You know I’m in the sleep training camp that **trublmakr **mentions, so I needn’t go there.
For naps: what I did with my son was to first adequately kid-proof his room, and then got a little clock radio and put it in his room. I set the Timer (or Sleep, I think it’s marked) to play music for 30 minutes, and tuned it to the classical station. I told him he had to stay in his room and listen to the music, and when it turned off, “music time” was over and he could come out. 9 times out of 10, he’d fall asleep before the music quietly shut off, and I’d get more than my 30 minutes worth!
I guess today you could pick a lullabye CD and move it to the middle of the tracks to get about 30 minutes worth of music. My son was born before CDs were widespread, and the one time I tried a cassette, the clicking of the tape player as it turned off woke him!
Thanks for the input, everyone! No nap again today, and fell asleep eating dinner, just like she did last night! This time, I brought her right upstairs and put her in bed…didn’t even change her clothes…she needs some sleep! She actually moved her plate of food from her tray to the table, folded her arms on the tray, laid her head down on her arms, and fell fast asleep! I slipped the tray out from under her, took her out of the chair, carried her upstairs, and put her in bed, and she never opened her eyes! Hopefully, she will sleep through the night, and tomorrow we can start the whole thing all over again.
We did this for our 4-year old. He didn’t want to go to sleep (life is too exciting for that), so we started playing him a lullabye CD on my portable CD player hooked up to computer speakers. That worked great, so we bought him a clock radio that plays CDs and he listens to that. We haven’t had any problem with him falling asleep since then.
If only we could find a way to get our 2-year-old to stop waking up at 5:30 . . .
We used to lay down with the kids. At first until they fell asleep, then until they were sleepy, now there is simply a few minutes of occational cuddle time. That seemed to work best for us - it was time consuming, but less stressful than the screaming method (tried it - it didn’t work well). My youngest is six and most nights will go to bed with a kiss - so you may be in for years of committment with this method.
Neither my brother nor I took naps after we were about a year old. My parents were of the opinion that naps and putting us to bed before it was dark would only ensure we woke up long before they wanted us to. Not that I have a lot of experience with kids, but maybe if you gave up on the nap for a few days to save your patience for dealing with her at night. It will also make her more tired at night and therefore more likely to sleep.