I have a 3 yr. old stepdaughter who has spent the last 2 years having 2 - 3 nights a week with us.
She has never been a great sleeper and used to wake up frequently and cry for ages. Being a non biological parent I think it made it easier for me to take a step back and take control (her father is useless at saying no, very placatory until he loses his temper - not good!) and sat with her screaming her head off in her room for about a month until she learned that while there was someone there they weren't going to engage in night time activities such as cuddles, story telling etc.
After a while she still woke up but I could get her back to sleep almost instantly by going up, tucking her back in and saying 'night night, we love you, see you in the morning'. However if her Dad went up that was it for about an hour, read me a story, I want milk etc. etc. etc. So I ended up going up as it was just easier!
I am now pregnant and just zonk out at night and don't hear the alarm and her Dad has been going up for about the last couple of months and she is back to square one, wanting things and whinging for hours until she finally works herself up into a screaming tantrum. Her Dad came to get me last night eventually and she just carried on for another two hours - I am knackered and need to know that the silent but present treatment is ok and also how to convince her Dad that he shouldn't cuddle her or respond when he thinks this is mean and that I am being mean doing it! Or perhaps I'm wrong and cuddles and sympathy are the right thing?
My patience is wearing out - I can't stand the whinging - please help!
Is her Dad willing to take advice. If so, give him some steps to follow. My nearly 3 yr old daughter has been a problem sleeper for the last two years. I had the same problem because her dad was catering to her whims.
We came up with the '10 pats' routine. We give her 10 slow pats while counting out quietly. On the 10th pat we say "time for sleep. love you baby" and out we go. If she calls out we say "no calling out". After a few nights of this, she tells us before she goes to sleep - "no calling out". It hasn't completely solved the night waking, but it is certainly easier than the crying and screaming.