The best approach is to develop with your child an enjoyable bedtime routine -- and then stick to it. Such rituals (which usually last about 30 minutes and involve cleaning up, brushing teeth, reading a story, and discussing the day) make going to bed more fun and less likely to cause protest. They also enable your child to shift gears from after-supper activities to quiet time in bed and to end the day in a familiar, predictable, and comforting way. Ultimately, nighttime rituals ease the separation anxiety many young children feel when lights are turned out and they're all alone in a great big bed.
There are no set rules for bedtime routines: Whatever enables your child to go to bed calmly and fall asleep on his own is best. But you can take a few additional steps to minimize the chances of your child's rebelling:
Create a cozy bedroom. Preschoolers have a strong sense of ownership and a budding desire for privacy. A special sleeping corner that reflects who they are and what they like can make a huge difference in how they view bedtime. Sometimes a pair of pajamas or bed sheets and pillowcases with your child's favorite character on them can also be a big help in getting him to sleep.