I'm about at my wits end. My 4 yo has never been a good sleeper but it's been getting worse lately. She's been so disruptive at preschool naptime that her preschool has asked that she leave before naptime. (Ugh.)
We have made a rule that she must nap at home -- or at least have quiet time -- but it's a constant struggle to get her down. We've tried establishing a routine -- snack, story, turn on relaxing music, and I'll lay with her for no more than 5 minutes.
Or at least, this is the plan. She's usually so disruptive by the time we get upstairs that it's a struggle to get through the story and she'll try to prolong the story as long as possible, asking for more stories (we have a one story rule) and then wiggling when it's time to cuddle. We have a three strikes system. I warn her twice that if she continues to wiggle/be disruptive, that I will leave the room and close the door. I do this without yelling but up until I leave, she thinks it's a game.
Once I leave though, she goes into hysterics. She has gone half an hour, an hour, of crying, screaming for "someone to cuddle me!!" but when I have done that, we just go through the same song and dance again.
Bedtime is more of the same. There was a time when we could do our normal bedtime routine (same as naptime) and she'd go to bed without incident. Now it's running around, trying to put off bedtime, and more often than not, falling asleep only after tantruming for a good, long while.
She's always been bad with transitions so we've always been careful to explain what's going to happen so it's not like it's a surprise that I'm getting up to leave! This has been happening for months now, always with the same result. Her school has said that she tends to manipulate with her tantrums and that's definitely true at home.
We have cut down screen time, don't allow sugar after 5:00PM (and only then between 2:00PM ~ 5:00PM, one cookie or a sugary drink). She has to "earn" her limited screen time by first taking at least a 1 hour nap. There haven't been any huge things happening in our lives lately, no siblings to fight with, etc.
We've gone from a family that never, ever let her CIO when she was a baby/toddler and yet now, she's crying herself to sleep more often than not! It breaks my heart. But the alternative is either she doesn't nap (or sleep until midnight!!) OR she holds me hostage for both naptime and bedtime. She's getting about 8 ~ 9 hours total of sleep, and that's if we're lucky. It's not healthy for her, it's not practical for either her or me, and it's getting to be extremely disruptive for the entire family, who has to sit through her entire tantrums that can easily last up to an hour or more. :( (She often does not want comfort from anyone else other than Mommy. All I can do is sit and feel my heart break. Comforting her only makes these episodes last longer.
What do I do??