DS is 29 months old and in the last month or two bedtime has become a problem for us. It's one of the many areas he says he doesn't want to and starts to fight it. I think many nights he genuinely isn't sleepy, or has tricked his body into it through whatever psychological factors (overstimulation, feeling lack of power, etc). He is simultaneously going through a nap transition, namely dropping it....but unfortunately his preschool sort of forces this quiet time where he has to either sleep or be quiet (they have mixed results, but the worst case for them is that he doesn't sleep and is active ~it's never a struggle there like it is at home though). Occasionally when he hasn't napped he will fall asleep pretty easily around 8:30, but sometimes even when he hasn't napped and is showing other signs of tiredness, he still fights sleep and bedtime. We have a solid regular routine and try to get him in bed by 8 or 9 depending how it looks, but he often is not asleep til 10 or later even. An earlier time is not a possibility as my hubby often cannot get home from work earlier than 7. Wake up is usually around 7 but he is usually up around then anyway we don't have to wake him.
BTW I am constantly reading sites like Hand in Hand or Dr. Laura for gentle discipline advice, and I know that staying connected and helping the child feel empowered are great helps. I know he feels very disempowered lately. It seems that 2.5 is this transition and he is not the same as he was just a month ago. So many struggles around food, sleep, frustration, whining, and general all around resistance. We are trying so hard to connect and play power games, etc....which does help somewhat but usually short-lived before the next struggle, and DH and I are limited human beings and we are getting tired of this, not only most days but now most bedtimes as well.
At the end of the day you can't force a child to sleep but what are we supposed to do here? I sometimes do set a limit and go out of the room for a few minutes just to take a break because I have reached my own limits, and he sometimes can play on the bed alone (with only the nightlight on), but usually does want me there. I would not leave him crying but he'll call me and I keep saying "I'll be right back" and reassuring him and then I go back in. The times I set limits and say "ok after this book we are turning out the light" (we do use the nightlight but I find I have to set a limit on that too as he continues to be active and say "get up, get up") he often cries a lot and while a little crying in my presence doesn't bother me, and even may be necessary to express some of his general frustration, I wonder where the healthy limit is with that, since I don't want bedtime to become associated with this massive struggle and crying and that he falls asleep crying every night, ya know?!
Any tips or sympathy appreciated. Thank you if you read that whole thing!!