Our Seven year old daughter is extremely strong willed, emotional and persistant. We have always laid with her until she falls asleep, but it is getting to be just too much . She has a hard time settling down, she often kicks, talks, horses around etc, I have to keep threatening her to leave to get her to settle down. My husband now refuses to do it, it often takesup to two hoursfor her to stop goofing around and be quiet and still. She has a good, consistent night time routine but just will not go to sleep without someone laying with her. I was willing to do it when she would go to sleep, but I am getting totally frustrated about missing much of my precious alone time with my husband. I feel it is time she learned to lay in bed and fall asleep alone, she is in first grade. I don't know how to handle this at all, I have tried letting her cry and forcing her to stay in bed but she gets so panicked and screams and yells, it ends up that she misses hours of sleep and is exhausted the next day. I have tried letting her read quietly in bed, but she will do it for a long time and then eventually start crying for someone to come in. She MUST get enough sleep or she has a terrible time at school the next day, so I usually just lay with her. I used to rationalize it by saying, "Well, there will come a time when she won't need me, and I will miss this," but it is just feeling like it is time. I would love some suggestions about how to go about transitioning her in a kind, loving and effective way. What is reasonable to expect here?
Just wanted to say that I still lay with my almost 8 yr old to go to sleep, but we still cosleep, and he just goes to bed when I do, so it's not a biggie.
If it is taking her 1-2 hours to fall asleep even when someone is with her, perhaps you are putting her to bed before she is really tired? I've noticed with our guy that if I try to go to bed too early, it's really hard for him to calm down, he's simply not tired yet.
Would it help to really tired her out during the day (like make sure she gets tons of physical exercise after school/supper?
I feel it is reasonable to expect her to be able to fall asleep on her own. It's interesting that she seems to really need your presence to fall asleep.
Can you give her calcium/magnesium supplement and tell her it is magic sleepy-time potion? Rub some lavender essential oil on her feet and say the same thing. Put a couple drops on her pillow and have her sniff it when she is getting worked up. It seems like she needs some help breaking the pattern that she has come to expect.
I would try to be very firm with her (in a gentle way), do some extra calming routine (like above) and just tell her that you can't lay down with her. I would let her cry up to a certain point, check on her, calm her down, repeat. Start on a Friday and just be ready for some tired days. I like the above two suggestions also but I would draw a line in the sand and clearly let her know that you can't lay down for hours anymore.
At 7, she is able to understand your reasoning for not wanting to lay with her for 2 hours each night, and she is also old enough to establish new habits with a little help. After talking with her, I would take a graduated approach, kind of like this:
Week 1: Lay with her, but set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, leave.
Week 2: Sit on a chair in the room for 20 minutes.
Week 3: Sit on a chair for 10 minutes.
Week 4: Sit on a chair just inside the door of her room for 10 minutes.
Week 5: Sit right outside the room for 10 minutes.
I'd let her know that this is the plan, and this is what will happen. If she needs a white noise machine, or a new pillow/pillowcase, or cute nightlight - go shopping for one. If she doesn't have a comfort item, maybe now is the time to add one that is special just for night time.
Our neighbor is currently having the same issue with her 9 year old DD, and I can see how frustrated she gets with her. Good luck, OP! I hope that you and your DD find something that works for both of you!