Posted by: Noni | 2005/06/19


URGENT- please please help. My child wont sleep

Its incredibly hard to get my 2 yr old to sleep. It takes me between an hour and two and a half hours b4 she will sleep and when she does sleep its out of complete exhaustion brought on by tantrum after tantrum. Is there no calming way to get her to sleep? It takes me up to an hour to put her down for her afternoon nap and at night bedtime takes up to two and a half hours as I say. We live in a complex and the neighbours bang on the walls day and nite because of her screaming. Thrice ppl have moved out of the units around me. Nobody even greets me in the complex anymore except the guard.

During the week I wake her at 7.30 for school. She is still in deep sleep at that time and cries a lot becoz of being roused from deep sleep. The neighbours bang on the walls. She sleeps from 12h45 to approx 13h30 at school then i pick her at 2. When should she sleep again?

I am a single mother holding down 3 jobs to make ends meet and I battle to get supper on the table by 7 which i think is the time a toddler shd eat. I now have the added repsonsibility of my younger brother and sister to look after, they moved in with me recently after my parents couldn't afford to take care of them anymore. They could have gone to my elder sister but she has a horrid husband who won't let her help or even spend time with her family members. She is a very submissive wife and did not argue with him. I have a maid but when she leaves at 4pm the hectic evening starts - trying to cook for 4 ppl, bath the baby get her to sleep and then go for my night-shift job. I then often go for the day job at 5am - I am exhausted but the bottom line is I must make ends meet. We need a roof over our heads and to pay all bills so I cannot afford to slack off.

I would like her to sleep by 8. This never works. Even if I get her into the bedroom by 8 or 8h30, the actual falling asleep takes place maybe at ten or later. Between 8h30 and ten its tears and multiple tantrums (neighbours banging again). She fights to get out the room (I have to lock us in), she screams for anything that mite get her out including calling for her aunt, asking for a glass of water, asking to watch tv - anything which mite get her out the bedroom. I can't understand the total resistance to bedtime and dislike of confinement to the bedroom. We co-sleep by the way, we always have so when she goes to bed I lie down with her. We read a few books and i play soft music and turn the lights down. Often she agrees to get into bed and read, the problem is when i have read 3 books or so I tell her its now bedtime and the tantrums start. So then i read 3 or 4 more and tell her now I will stop and she screams again. I cannot read up to 8 books a nite. I can see she is very tired and don't know why she is fighting sleep so defiantly.

I don't believe in beating or smacking a child, even tho she sometimes hits at me or pulls my hair. I was badly beaten as a child and will not inflict it on my own child. I also try not to yell at her as I believe shouting never solved anything. I speak in firm tones but it achieves nothing.

I know a lot of 2 yr olds out there are simply put in their rooms kissed goodnite and left to sleep. How on earth do mothers manage this? How do you force a child to stay in a bed, much less sleep? My child can easily open the door, does not like being left alone and there is no way I will lock a child in a room. So the only way to make she she stays in the room is to be with her.

I give her her Barney, her care bear etc, anything to make the bed not seem like a war zone but a happy place to lie down. Sometimes because she is thrashing and kicking and screaming on the bed so much, I have to get up and walk around the room holding her, just like when she was tiny. She often asks to be held and cuddled and tho I am exhaused I comply so that the neighbours stop banging and so that bedtime comes quicker. If I leave her and tell her I will not pick her up cos its time to sleep, the walls of the room ring with her screaming. I tried ignoring her a few times but when it clearly was not working I went back to hushing and cuddling her to sleep.

From birth I've battled with putting her to bed. She is now 2 and everything has taken its toll on me - I am underweight and gaunt, bleary-eyed and irritable, unhappy and desperate, confused and hugely disappointed with myself. My child is not sleeping rite, our lifestyle suffers and I don't know what to do.

What are the recommended sleep times for a 2 yr old? How do other mothers get their kids to sleep? How can i get my child to sleep more and how can I get her to accept sleep as a natural part of life not something to resist defiantly. I just have to say the words sleep, bedtime or naptime and she screams and screams until she is shaking. I am so desperate for help I just feel like locking myself in a cupboard somewhere and crying for hours. I feel a huge failure and that my child deserves better.

please help

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user comments


Posted by: Tina | 2005/07/06

Hi Noni

It's been a while since you posted your problem - I hope things have improved. Oprah did a show recently and feature a British nanny called "Super Nanny" and she helps parents with exactely the same problem as you. This is how she helped the one lady who's toddler would go sleep:

1. At bedtime, put your child in their bed and sit next to the cot with the side of your face to them. Don't make eye contact!
2. Ignore her calling you and pleading with you, don't speak to them and NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT.
3. If she gets out of the bed put her back without making eye contact and without speaking to her and sit down again on the floor with the side of your face to her. Repeat until she eventually falls asleep.
4. The next night do the same. Put her to bed, but sit a bit further away and DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT, etc.
5. Every night you repeat this until you eventually you are sitting so far that you are out the bedroom door.

I saw this in practise on Oprah and it worked like a bomb!

Reply to Tina
Posted by: Tanya | 2005/06/21

Firstly, you are trying your best and give yousrelf credit for that!
Then: i think your child should sleep between 10 -12 hours a night at that age, so she shoud have a night routine ending in bed time at 19h30 (I think)
Then: have you seen the show of Oprah about nanny JO? In that show she showed how nanny Jo went to a selective family's house and helps them to manage their children. With one family she taught the mom the following. 1) Put the baby to sleep in the cot (or bed i suppose), then sit on a chair next to the bed (sothat your child knows that you are there and not abandoning him), BUT dont ever look at your child, just stare infront of you. If baby climbs out, just keep on putting him back (without contact), if there are tantrums, just ignore, stay put on the chair staring infront of you even if your baby keeps yelling 'mommy, mommy', eventually baby will learn that you dont give in. Everynight you move the chair a bit close away from the cot and nearer to the door, persistence is the key here!. This family has no more sleeping problems!

Reply to Tanya
Posted by: noni | 2005/06/20

thank you you are a star! Will buy it today :)

God bless you too

Reply to noni
Posted by: BZ's Mommy | 2005/06/20

Firstly, don't be too hard on yourself. Mothers tend to blame themselves for every little thing that goes wrong in a childs life, I'm one of them. But look at the positive side of things, you have raised that little girl from birth and she's already a healthy 2year old.
My sister-in-law had the same problem with her little boy since he was just over a year old, he is now 3. Some nights she used to lye and cry with him, not knowing what to do. She works a full day and is busy studying for a degree. I started using "Bright Sparks Immune Booster" for my children to boost them for the winter and told my mom-in-law about it. She went to the chemist and found in the same range "Bright Sparks Nighty Night" and bought it for him and now he sleeps like a baby. You can get it at Clicks for R59.95 or try one of those large chemists for specials. It's a natural remedy and I really hope it works for you.
Please let me know if it works.
God Bless!

Reply to BZ's Mommy

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