My son is 3. He has never been a good sleeper. I will be honest with you here. We have tried to get him into a bedtime routine since he was a baby, but he has never gotten the sleeping aspect of the routine. Whether we put him to bed at 6 or 7 or 8 or 9, he does not fall asleep until about 10:00, and if he is in his bed during that time, he cries the whole time. DH or I stay with him until he falls asleep. However, we decided long ago that we did not want to spend all evening holding a crying baby/toddler/preschooler, so now we get him ready for bed by 8, I try to nurse him to sleep, and then we try to ignore him/let him play quietly until we are ready to go to bed at 10. Often I will use the computer and he will curl up on my lap around 9:30 and nurse himself to sleep. He and I share a room, which has a toddler bed next to a single (twin-sized) bed. We place him in the toddler bed after he has gone to sleep. When he wakes up, around midnight, he climbs into bed with me. He is nightweaned, so he doesn't nurse again until 6am.
Lately he has stopped nursing to sleep by 10. This means that when DH and I go to bed at 10, DS is still up. On these nights, I get ready for bed and then we get into my bed together and he nurses there, but often still doesn't fall asleep. He wants to get up and play. He wants to eat. I tell him, "No, it is not time to eat/play. It is bedtime." Sometimes he wants to see Daddy (who is in bed across the hall--we do not sleep together) and sometimes Daddy comes in and takes him away so that I can sleep. Sometimes (rarely) he will get into bed with Daddy and eventually fall asleep, but usually he cries for me once he gets to Daddy and I have to decide whether to let DH handle it or go relieve him after a while. At this point, he will usually nurse to sleep. So lately he has not been getting to sleep until 10:30-11. There is clearly a problem with our sleep situation. It is not working.
Anyway, DH had the brilliant idea today of asking our day care provider not to let DS nap during the day, in hopes that it would make him go to sleep earlier at night. This led to the day care director calling me at work to discuss what we should be doing to help DS sleep better at night. She said that he has been disruptive during quiet time at day care--he doesn't even nap there always, and he tends to keep others up--and he has become disobedient in general. She said it was clearly a control issue for him and we need to fix it now before he is 13 and out of control.
She recommends a chart to document his bedtime routine, with stickers if he behaves/stays in bed. She says he should be in bed by 7:30 every night and we should say good night and walk away and not go back in until at least 20 minutes have passed. I said that there is not a chance that he would stay in bed, and she said to make sure the room is safe/there is nothing dangerous he can get into and then lock the door from the outside. After 20 minutes, check on him--put him back in bed, if necessary--but don't say a word to him and then leave for another 20 minutes. She recommended that I read "Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems" and told me about a local group I could call for advice, which she said was "like Nanny 911." She said I would see results within 2 weeks, but then it would get worse again before getting better and said, laughing, that some parents buy ear plugs during this time.
I don't know what to do. I agree that there is a problem. I agree with some of what she said: "Children need boundaries," and "Routine is important" (I agree with this in principle, but it has never seemed to work for our family). But I feel like her suggestions are overall not very respectful. Furthermore, most of it would never work for out family because of how we are currently set up. But I didn't know before today that he was having behaviour problems at day care due to our inability to reinforce boundaries at home. I know now that I need to do something, but what?