After 21 months of being a angelic sleeper, my 21mth old daughter is now screaming herself into a frenzy at bedtime.
We have been overseas for a month and her routine was disrupted. We have worked hard to get her back into a routine since being home, and we have also taken her dummy off her for good (which she always had to sleep at night, but turned it into a chew toy whilst we were away). But she gets really, really upset when its bedtime and screams and screams, sometimes for 1.5-2hrs until she falls asleep.
There have been times we have gone into her room to try and calm her as her screaming is distressing, but we are also aware that she may see this as attention to her screaming and make a habit of closing her door and 'ignoring' her.
The problem is this has been going on for about two weeks...is it a case of just being more patient for her to re-settle into a routine, are we doing something wrong?, or is there something else we can do to help her enjoy bedtime again?
We are finding it difficult to get through this trying time, as she is not normally like this.
Balancing fair attention with not overdoing it can be hard. But as long as you're sure she is well and thriving and her sleep/settling issues are behaviour related, then it's fair to continue as you are.
Perhaps you could also tell her what you want her to do in a clear and firm voice e.g. "Lie down, go to sleep" and give her a few gentle pats (if she'll consent, otherwise leave the room and re-enter as you feel she needs some more reassurance.
You could try sitting on a chair in her room or in her doorway and quietly reading and in this way, you're there and she can see you and this will give her reassurance but you're not doing anything too active in terms of encouraging her to go to sleep.
But just be mindful that some kids become dependent on their parent's presence and then need this all the time, so you need to be in control of how long you are there, not her.
The issue with sleep management is that parents need to be consistent, fair, confident and work collaboratively. Eventually the child learns that there's no point in screaming and just goes to sleep with minimal fuss. Just think honestly about the chance that in some way, something you're currently doing could be perceived by her as a "reward" for her current fussing. If not, then I'd say just keep going as you are.
18 May 2013