Naptime becomes quiet time

Amy posted, “I think my almost 4 year old twins are ready to stop napping. They don’t really nap unless I lay on the floor telling them to lay down over and over again until they finally fall asleep and even them it’s usually only for 30min or so. However, after several days of not napping last week, they were visibly more cranky/tired. I sent one to school with red, puffy eyes b/c he was just so darn tired. Should I stop pushing naps? Will they work it out themselves and nap if they are truly tired? I know an earlier bedtime would help, but that’s hard to do in our house b/c they have 2 younger siblings. What do you think about a “quiet time” in their room? Is that reasonable for their age and if so how long should it be?”

Here’s some ironclad rules of parenting: you can’t make ‘em eat, you can’t make ‘em poop, and you can’t make ‘em sleep. Trying to do any of these things will lead to bad things.

Between 3 and 5, most kids will stop napping. Many of them will go through a period of transition, where they still kind of need the nap, but just won’t do it. It sounds like this is where you are—without naps, the kids are getting cranky. Still, if they’ve decided naps are no more, you’re not going to get them to change their minds by laying down with them. In fact, you’ll inadvertently be rewarding their nap-refusing behavior, and you’ll get yourself entangled in the struggle.

I like your idea of enforcing “quiet time” much better. I’d start with an hour, leave them be, they can do whatever they want to in their room as long as it’s quiet. Leave them books and quiet toys, but nothing electronic. After an hour, go get them; if they’re asleep, let them stay asleep until they wake up. Don’t even call it naptime any more. They’re more likely to sleep if they think you don’t expect it!

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2 Comments on “Naptime becomes quiet time”

  1. Angela Says:

    Dr. Roy,
    My strong willed 2 year old son has recently refused to nap. I like the idea of “quiet time”, but instead he screams and cries for over a hour until I go to get him. When I ask him why he didn’t nap, he says, “I wanna go downstairs and play toys”. We BOTH still need him to nap. Any ideas?

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  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Give him toys from downstairs, and put him down for his quiet time. Take your hour, try to relax and ignore him. You can’t make him sleep, and you can’t make him be quiet; but he can’t make you come get him.

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