My dd's 33 mos. old and just started falling asleep on her own on a regular basis. We have a baby coming and wanted to have her do this since we won't be getting any family suport with the new baby.
So anyway, 2 mos. ago we moved her into her room with dh sleeping on the floor. Half the time she'd end up on the floor with him. Last week I taught her about the baby monitor, that she just had to call me and I would come, and we practiced. She's not scared of the dark either.
Then I started sitting next to her but not lying next to her and reading a book with a book light for while. Next I said I would sit next to her for one song on her CD and then would move to the chair until she fell asleep. Finally I said I would stay for one song and then I was going to my bed to sleep because it's dark out and the sun is asleep and (everyone we know) are also asleep.
Oh yeah, and established a firm 8:30 bedtime and 12 noon naptime. Also did this with naptimes. Told her absolutely that she could not get out of her bed once it was time to sleep and enforced that rule strictly over the course of a few days. She got mad the first few times and tested me over and over again. I put her in time-out (a 30 second stint in the laundry room). I told her she didn't have to fall asleep but she needed to stay in bed, period.
So finally a few nights ago I left after one song and it took her 2 hours to fall asleep but I could hear hear singing to herself on the monitor. Obviously not scared or upset. SHe called for me a few times and I came to her and then told her it was time to sleep and left after a kiss. Second night it took her an hour to fall asleep. Third night 30 min. Last night she was fighting to keep her eyes open as I was finishing the bedtime stories and took her less than 15 mins. to fall asleep.
She's also been doing less nightwaking. Last night slept through until 5:30 when she called for me. I let her come back to bed with me until 7:30. She normally wakes up at 6:30 after a bad night's sleep, so this routine has been good for all of us!
Good luck! And remember that if your child is acting scared or whatever, then give it a couple more months. Add nightlights, music, stuffed animals, make it a safe place.
7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."