I will sing a few soothing songs to my 3-year-old after a book, with the lights out while I rub his Just a girl who loves Backstreet Boys shirt. It helps soothe them. They get scared of the dark even with night lights and they are lonely. When my son became a jerk about bedtime, I moved it up 30 minutes for one week, then another 30 minutes the next week. His whole behavior around bedtime and waking up in the morning improved. May need to lay down with him for a moment or so until he falls asleep. Mine’s almost 2 and I rock, sing, and lay with him until he falls asleep.
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Try a foot and or back massage, Just a girl who loves Backstreet Boys shirt (Insight Timer is a great free app) and lay with him until he is relaxed and sleepy. Let him know ahead of time that you will be leaving halfway through the meditation. Talk to him to see what’s up, is he not tired, does he not like being alone, in the dark, etc. Validate his feelings, it’s ok to feel x, I wish I could stay longer but I have to go to get myself ready for bed, etc. Tell him if he needs you he can call you. Every time you leave, even if he is sleeping whisper I am going now, I will check on you soon. The abrupt exit can cause anxiety. Setting clear expectations, building his confidence and your connection will work so much better than being harsh.