We struggled with this with him several months ago and bought him wall stickers (a non-adhesive kind). Whenever he followed the rules for bedtime and fell asleep within a reasonable amount of time without an excess of effort on my part, he woke up with his choice of sticker on his wall. We painted a frame on the wall and the stickers went inside the frame. The stickers did change his behavior until lately. Over the last few weeks, the nightly struggle has been much worse - he has apparently forgotten how to close his eyes. "I don't know how," he implores.
So we bought more stickers. They are supposed to be glow in the dark and are supposed to be removable, but don't glow much and are kind of sticky. Desperation made me stick one on an 80's-style, dark brown closet door. It glows compared to the dark door, and I don't care if it sticks, so it's good enough.
So far, he has earned two planets and several stars. He loves it. Tonight he went right to sleep for me. I sang "Kumbaya" to him while rocking him in his rocking chair. We did it bumble-bee style, but I immediately realized there aren't many things bumble-bees do.
Someone's buzzing Lord....Amazingly, he was snoring gently at the "making honey Lord" line.
Someone's flying Lord....
Someone's making honey Lord....
The plan was to rock him for a little song after reading a few books and then put him in his bed, so he can sleep alone in his bed like he used to do when he was one year old with no issue and even when he just turned two and got his big bed.
Last night he told me he was scared to be left alone. I didn't know that. I told him I would stay with him for a little while if he was doing his best. He did and was sleeping soundly in five minutes.
I think we'll have him sleeping much better soon. My fingers are crossed.
Do you have any tricks for getting small children to sleep?