I think we have finally found a solution to the bedtime issue we were having, but let me give you a bit of background first.
When Jacob first started sleeping in a twin bed, we were a bit worried he would have issues staying in bed, not going to sleep, etc. And he did, for a WEEK. For a while (several months), after that first week, he wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning until I came to get him!! The way our house was set up, all the bedrooms were in the same hallway, so we just put a gate up where the hallway opened into the living room. That way, if he needed us, he could come straight into our room without being able to roam the rest of the house. I could probably count the number of times he's gotten out of bed during the night (other than sickness, night terrors, leg cramps, etc.) since he moved out of the crib in late summer of 2005. He's always been a great sleeper and until Eli came along and hit the same stage, I took that for granted.
Fast forward a couple of years to February of 2008 (when we moved Eli out of the crib)...
Eli is the complete opposite of Jacob, he's never been a super sleeper and he's very strong willed. When we moved him out of the crib we knew it would be a challenge, but I don't think we could have anticipated how much of a challenge he would be. For a while things were fine. For several months he did really well. Then, it's as if one day a switch flipped. The child would not stay in bed. It didn't matter what the consequences were, he would get out of bed several (up to 15) times a night. We tried every method we had ever seen or heard of. EVERYTHING.
Recently, I finally had the thought that maybe he doesn't need as much sleep as we're trying to force on him. So, since it wasn't fair to Jacob for us to let Eli stay up later than him, we decided to give them "bedroom time" starting at the previous bedtime - 8:00. Beginning at that time, they are allowed to read books in their room (they share a room) until they either decide to turn off the light and go to sleep, or until we come up to tell them it's time to go to sleep at 8:45.
This system has been awesome! Often, Jacob will put his books away, then get in bed and go to sleep, even with Eli still up and the light still on. Is he a champion sleeper, or what!! And Eli goes to bed when he's told and on average only gets up once a week (and usually only one time before he settles down and goes to sleep)! We have even noticed that around 8:30 some nights, after Jacob has gone to sleep, Eli will put his books away, turn off the light and go to sleep with no prompting!!
This definitely works for us!! I am so thankful that God finally gave me that lightbulb moment of Eli's bedtime being too early because we were getting to the point of extreme frazzlement (yep, I just made that word up!) and neither of us could figure him out.