Most parents of preschoolers are familiar with the nightly battle over bedtime. This can be as rough of a time for your preschooler as it is for you. While she is learning how to assert her newfound independence, she is also scared of what it means to be by herself. Take heart though. There are things that you can make bedtime go smoother.
The first thing you are going to need to do is take some time out to talk to her about her day, otherwise your preschooler may fight sleep until you do. This is especially important if you are separated from her all day.
You will also need to create a bedtime routine and stick to it by putting it on a chart for her to follow. This routine should include her bath, brushing her teeth, reading a bedtime story and having a goodnight kiss. If she has any usual, yet reasonable requests, you should put them on the chart as well. These things could be a second sip of water or a peek at the moon. Before it is time to start using this chart you should give her a 5 minute warning and do your best to not let her dawdle. Instead, do something to motivate her, such as telling her that she will get a sticker for on her chart in the morning. Once she is able to get 3 stickers give her a small reward.
It is also helpful to allow your child to have some choices when it is bedtime. For instance, let her choose the book you will read tonight. Make sure that these are choices that you can live with.
Once in bed, you are going to have to remain calm but firm about her staying in bed. Do not allow yourself to grow frustrated and become engaged in a power struggle. You also do not want to keep giving in to her or this will become a habit for her.
Helping your child learn how to fall asleep alone is also important. Tell her that you will check on her in 5 minutes. When you do check on her, simply reassure her that she is safe and that you are close by.
Of course, you are not going to have success with all of this the moment it starts. Take it 1 step at a time. It is going to take some time to build your way to the ultimate goal of sleeping through the night without any commotion.
If nothing seems to be working, then you are going to have to take some time to figure out why your preschooler is having a problem staying in bed at night. Is it because she is not tired? Then you may need to adjust her bedtime or make sure she gets more exercise during the day. Is she scared? Then offer her a night light. Is it too quiet? Then play some soft music for her to fall asleep to. Is she jumpy? Then do not let her watch TV at night. You should also listen to her ideas about what she would find helpful. After all, if she is involved in making the plan, it will more than likely succeed.