Not a fun phase, and an exhausting one for everybody. When she was a baby, the most effective thing we did to get her to sleep through the night was put her in her crib while still drowsy and let her fall asleep on her own. It took a few nights of crying herself to sleep, but it worked and she became a GREAT sleeper for the next year.
Unfortunately, that method doesn't work so well with a two year old who is capable of opening her bedroom door and escaping when she wakes up in the night. Every. Single. Time. I tried lots of tactics to break the cycle, but nothing worked.
Then one day when Katelyn and I were taking a walk, we found a penny on the ground. Katelyn asked what it was, so I told her and said we could put it in her piggy bank. She was delighted. Every day after that, our mission was to look for pennies and we almost always found one (or a nickel or dime). And so began her fascination with putting pennies in her piggy bank. Something about hearing that "clink" just resonates with her.
If occurred to me that pennies might be the motivation Katelyn needed to start sleeping in her bed again. So I made a "Sleepy Pennies" chart. Much like a sticker chart, but instead of stickers going on for good behavior, pennies come OFF and go into her bank. Each night Katelyn slept IN her bed (not on the floor), she got to take a penny off. 3 pennies in a row = a mini "cupcake celebration" with Mommy and Daddy. (Did you know that a box of cake mix makes over 60 mini cupcakes? I have a freezer full of them now.) I strategically placed the piggy bank beside her bed.
Look! All 3 pennies are gone!
When I first introduced Sleepy Pennies, her exact words were, "Um, how about a nickel?" Ah, my little negotiator. She knew what she was asking, because a few days earlier I had told her that a nickel was worth FIVE whole pennies. Does my heart proud, but it wasn't negotiable. Nonetheless, Sleepy Pennies worked quicker than I thought it would. It only took one or two attempts and then it clicked. No, we are not paying our child to sleep. We simply found what motivates her... and, it's a chance to work on counting, cause/effect, and, on a very basic level, the concept of saving money.
Enjoying her first "cupcake celebration." She's saying "Celebration!" here. The cupcake may be small, but we make a big deal out of it.
So... are we done with sleep issues? *yawn* No. Sleepy pennies worked beautifully for about 3 weeks before she relapsed. But even though we're still working on it, I'd say we've made major progress from where we were a few months ago. She WANTS to earn pennies... but there are many nights that she doesn't. But on those mornings when she wakes up and immediately asks if she can put a penny in her bank, she is so, so proud... and so are we!