Overcoming Sleep Struggles

Don't Bend the Rules

Of course, simply establishing a routine won't suddenly make your child eager to sleep. "Preschoolers want to know what the limits are and will try to see how much they can get away with," Dr. Mindell notes. Be firm; if you've decided that you'll read two books together, don't let your child talk you into reading three one night, because she'll inevitably lobby for a permanent change in the rules. If your child says he isn't sleepy, let him choose an activity to do quietly in bed, such as looking at a book or playing with a stuffed animal.

Even if your child is content to stay in bed, she may beg you to lie down with her. "Many parents have luck with the 'five-minute rule,' in which you leave but agree to check on your child again in five minutes," Dr. Mindell says. There's a good chance that your child will fall asleep before you return, but always go back and check.

If, however, your child constantly gets out of bed, just calmly bring her back to her room -- carrying her if necessary. You might do it ten times the first few nights, but eventually she'll get the message and stay put.

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