Nixing the nap
The last thing a toddler wants to hear is that it's time for a little shut-eye. But an overtired toddler is a difficult one.
What to do: If your child still needs a nap -- and you'll know it because he'll nod off in a quiet moment if you don't create the opportunity to sleep -- your best bet is to implement a consistent routine and stick to it. "Let him refuse all he wants and still put him to bed," says D'Amico. "He'll be mad as heck at times and it won't be fun, but when he learns you mean it, he'll usually give up and behave better in this and many other areas of life."
When her son Nicholas was a toddler, Hanessian found that holding him helped him calm down. "He'd say, 'I've got the wiggles, I can't go to sleep,' so I'd swaddle him with my arms and I could feel him relaxing," she says. "With temperamental kids, being contained can really ground them."
As your child gets closer to age 3, you may also find that she can now connect going to sleep with an upcoming event. Jill Smoller of Albuquerque, New Mexico, tells her 2½-year-old the sooner she takes her nap, the sooner her friend will come over to play.
For older toddlers, the trick is learning to recognize when to stop naps altogether. "If you're meeting serious resistance at naptime, and then after having a nap your child doesn't want to go to sleep at night, it's time to give it up," says DeBroff. "Bedtime will be easier because she'll be tired."
Of course it will seem like a long day to you when you don't get your respite either, but look how much stress you'll be eliminating during the day. And less butting of heads means more time to enjoy your toddler. I've found with all three of my kids that the more positive interactions we can share, the more they come to realize that pleasing Mom and Dad is a lot more fun than pulling power plays.