DD has always had trouble sleeping. She hasn't laid down on her own volition since at 4mo she learned to sit up on her own from lying down. She's 25mo now and naptime is my own personal hell. Her problem is she is incapable of being still. If she can stay still for 5 min, say strapped into a car seat, she's out like a light. But my challenge has been and still is teaching her to stop moving. I used to lay down with her to sleep cuddle her and in effect hold her still. When her brother was born 6 mo ago, I had to teach her to lay down without me 'cause I have to be available to take care of him. It's worked for the most part.
Our routine goes as such: When I see that's she's tired, I ask if she wants anything else to eat. We have lunch and I prepare her that naptime is next. I carry her to wind her down. I go into her room, turn out the light. I sing her a song and rock back and forth. Then I lay her down on her bed and stroke her head and try to encourage her to lay still. I tell her to breathe and I tell her I love her. It all takes about 5min. Then i stand in the doorway facing away from her until she's settled, or until I need to go attend to ds. I then keep checking in at her doorway while she winds herself down, squirming under her pillows, talking to her animals. If she takes awhile, I pick her up and give her another song and lay her down again. If all goes well, this will be the end of it, and she'll go to sleep.
But more often lately, the routine has continued like this:
She is unable to wind herself down. Squirming under her pillows becomes sitting up becomes standing up and throwing her pillows and animals on the floor. At intervals I try to intercede with songs and rocking, But instead of calming her like usual, she squirms in my arms until I get frustrated and just put her down.
When I see it heading down this path, I have tried two different tactics: Micro managing her and leaving her alone. Micro managing her involves putting a soothing hand on her chest or forehead and a firm hand on her hips to hold her still. I then coach her in breathing deep and I close my eyes and tell her to close hers. This works more often than leaving her alone. That usually turns into her calling to me and when she had me in sight, she shrieks with adrenaline and dives for her pillows. Or leaving her bedroom (closing her door on the way out to indicate that she's done with her room) and coming to find me. Either way, if this goes on long enough, my patience runs out and I pop. I end up yelling at her with this scary monster voice, "I said sleep!", she ends up crying herself to sleep (or not). It's a fiasco. I'm sick of it. I dread naptime and I'm not entirely sure she doesn't as well. I didn't decide to stay home with my children so that we could have daily power struggles. This isn't good for either of us.
I have tried waiting later, but it just gets worse. The more tired she is, the more wired she gets.
Some of her friends are out growing naps. I don't know if she is, but I do know that she doesn't have the stamina to go all day without one. If she doesn't nap, she is one long melt down from 2pm on. If our daily naptime struggle is bad, those days are worse. If she's not going to nap, then she at least needs quiettime. That's the catch 22; if I could get her to stay quiet in her bed, then she would pass out.
So today I tried a different tactic. When it was clear that she was going to fight sleep, instead of plugging away at it until I'm am fuming, I decided to try to enforce quiet time. There's only one way to enforce quiet time with a 2 year old. I spanked her. I did it consciously and I made sure that I did not do it in anger. I did it because I did not know what else to do. What is the logical consequence to leaving your bed? Beign put back on your bed? What is a time out, but enforced quiet time.
I put all of her pillows and animals back on her bed. I put some books on her bed. I told her that she needed to stay quiet on her bed if she wasn't going to sleep. I told her that she was to stay on her bed and not get off. I then set up camp in the living room where I couldn't see her playing on her bed, but I could see if she got off it. when she started to get off, I told her she needed to stay on. When she tested it again, I told her that if she got off, she was going to get a spanking. She of course tested it. So i spanked her. She then stayed on her bed and fell asleep.
This isn't the brand of parenting I sign onto. That's why I'm writing for advice. Spanking is the logical conclusion to power struggle parenting. I need another way.