Rely on Your Routine
"Knowing what to expect is soothing for a child and gets his body into a rhythm so that he's tired at the same time every night," Dr. Mindell says. Experts advise a lights-out time between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. for 3- and 4-year-olds. The routine leading up to it should last about 30 to 60 minutes and include bathing, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, and hearing a bedtime story. Give your child a warning 15 minutes before it's time to start getting ready.
To help your child feel more in control, make a chart with pictures of all the activities that need to be done. If you include all of your child's reasonable before-bed requests -- a glass of water, a final trip to the bathroom, saying good night to the dog -- she'll be less likely to procrastinate.