In the toddler years parents can become frustrated because they know their child can sleep independently and expect that their child will always choose to sleep independently. All caregivers know this struggle. When young children are for whatever reason unable or unwilling to do what we know they can do, we have to try to keep perspective. Consider as an adult you know how to make dinner and that is the healthiest and most cost efficient thing but it doesn't mean you're always able to do it. When you're child is asking for extra help falling asleep, try to be empathetic. Sometimes it's hard to fall asleep even if your child can do it themselves. They might need a little extra help now and then. Below are a few more resources to help toddler parents deal with some of the challenging times.
Find a time when you're child's open and more talkative--maybe when you're drawing at the dinning room table or swinging on a swing and start the conversation with, "I have been reading and learning about how to help you sleep and I realized that what we have been doing isn't working. What do you think?" Hopefully your child will engage with you but if not you might say, "I don't like feeling so frustrated at bedtime. I know sometimes I raise my voice and I want to try something new. I was thinking you and I could work together to come up with a better plan for bedtime." Make it safe for your child to speak openly about how they might be feeling at bedtime. Your child might say, "I hate going to bed." Validate their feelings and help them commit to working with you on a solution. You could respond, "I have noticed it is a really difficult time. I'm thinking we could find a way to make it better." Even with a young one year old or two year old this conversation about your plans for change is important.
When your child has agreed that you should try something new, work to write down a new bedtime plan. For a young toddler you might say, "What will we need to do at bedtime?" You might need to lead a bit, "Do you think you'll want your pink blankie in our new plan?" Then talk about what your new plan will entail, "We will have our bath. Maybe we could have a sleepy song, which one do you think?" If your child's older you might start with, "What are the parts of bedtime we should keep?" If you need to lead a bit you might say, "Well, do you like reading a book together at bedtime?" If you have a problem you expect to surface like asking for more water, getting out of bed, or wanting you to stay forever, address that in the planning. You might say, "What will our plan be for when you want to get out of bed?" Try to be flexible to your child's ideas and come up with a plan that works for everyone.
Once you have your plan that both of you agree on, then you can put it into action. Hold yourself to not rushing your plan and hold your child to what you have set out. If your child asks to change the plan you can say, "This is what we agreed on and we are going to try it for tonight (or this week) and we can talk about it again to see if it is working for everyone." When your child complains or cries, offer empathy but don't change your expectations. You might say, "I know it is hard when it's time for me to go. I love you, I'm near, I'll see you in the morning."
It won't be like this forever!