Chart Their Progress
On his door, each of my kids has a paper chart and an action figure or toy attached to it with poster tack. When one of the kids stays in bed after lights-out, he gets to move his toy one space on the chart the next morning. When he gets to the end, the family gets to go to the movies or bowling! We started with five spaces for our 3-year-old and ten spaces for our 5-year-old, but every time one of them earns the prize, we add two spaces to his chart. We've also used this system for other challenges, like eating their veggies -- which I never have to ask them to do anymore!
Give Them Some Control
The bedtime trick I used with my daughter, then age 5, was deceptively simple: I told her that she could stay awake if she wanted to, but she had to stay in bed. She thought she was getting away with something! Every night she told me, "Oh Mom, I forgot to stay awake last night!" Worked like a charm.
Talk About the Day
After a particularly trying day with my daughter, then age 3, I didn't want our evening to end in frustration. So as I tucked her in, I thought about the good things that had happened that day and told her what my favorite parts were. She started asking me at bedtime, "Mommy, what did you like today?" and talking about the day became our tradition. I've told her how much I liked watching her swing, reading her a story, painting her nails, and doing a puzzle together. Some days it is harder to remember the simple joys of motherhood, but I go to bed feeling better about the day, and so does she.
Rio Rancho, NM
Make It Magical
I covered my son's bedroom ceiling with hundreds of glow-in-the-dark star stickers. When it's time for him to go to sleep, I just tell him to count the stars. It never fails.
Stansbury Park, UT