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It takes my toddler two hours to get to sleep
Q: My 2-year-old daughter won’t shut down at night. We turn out the lights at 8 p.m., but it takes her two hours to fall asleep. While she’s awake she talks, sings and cries. She’s not getting enough sleep because she cries the next day over the smallest thing. Any suggestions?
A: Make a list of all the things you do during that two-hour time period you’re trying to get your daughter to sleep. Once you look at your list you’ll probably discover that you’re giving her a lot of attention at bedtime. Attention is rewarding for children; they will do anything to get it from their parents.

So the trick is to give your daughter plenty of attention before bed and then minimal or no attention afterward. One way to accomplish this is to place a gate in the doorway of the bedroom. Every 10 minutes, return to the doorway to remind her that it’s bedtime and everyone needs to sleep.

The purpose of these brief visits is to assure your daughter that you’re not abandoning her. After a couple of visits every 10 minutes, extend the time to 15 minutes. The hardest part for you is hearing her cry for your attention. To comfort yourself, remind yourself of the attention you gave her all day.

Remember, you can set a fixed bedtime for your child, but you can’t make her sleep at a specific time. So allow her to sing and play in her room after you have left her for the evening. Just keep the gate up to keep her from running around the house seeking more attention.