Quick Ben story...
After several long months of wonderful, easy sleeping for Ben, he suddenly began aggressively resisting bedtime. He would not want to go to bed. He would ask us to sit in the hallway until he fell asleep. He would fuss and whine for the longest time each night. One night last week, he was up fussing and calling for us to come talk to him until almost 11 p.m.! It was getting out of control, and we were exhausted and at our wits end.
So, after prayer and reflection, and just a little hand-wringing, we came to accept that we could put the child to bed, but we couldn't make the child sleep. But we couldn't just let him stay up until we went to bed every night...he needs more sleep than that, and we need adult time! So we decided that we didn't care if he was asleep or not, but we needed him to be in his bed, and quiet. And those were the only 2 things we needed.
So, in a stroke of good luck, I remembered a tiny flashlight that Nana had given him a long time ago. I dug out the flashlight, and that night, when we put him to bed, we told him that he could pick a favorite book to take to bed, and he could have his special flashlight. We said that he didn't have to sleep at all. He could play with his light and read his book all that he wanted, but that he did have to be quiet and restful. He looked at us incredulously...we were actually going to just let him have a book and play with a flashlight and we didn't care if he slept or not??!!
Well, long story short, he was asleep that night within about 7 minutes, and he even turned off the flashlight himself before he fell asleep. He has been perfect with nights and naps every day since, thanks to his trusty little flashlight!
"This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine..."