A set routine and do not let them get overtired.
Do the same thing, in the same order, every night. Dinner, a bath, a story, bedtime for example. For naps, use a short version... lunch, story, naptime.
Do not force a child to drop the nap. Overtired children have a harder time falling asleep, staying asleep, and are more likely to wakeup early. Enforce a daily quiet time even if they don't sleep.
Preschool children need 11 to 13 hours of sleep each day, toddlers need 12 to 14. If your child has dark circles under her eyes, bags under her eyes, is cranky in the early evening - then she isn't getting enough. Do not hesitate to move bedtime up and get her into bed early. Sleep is critical to proper growth and brain development. It is far more important that she get enough sleep than it is that she wait up to play with daddy, eat dinner with the family, or watch some TV show.
at 6:16 PM on Jun. 10, 2009