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Naptime a Necessity? How to Get the Most Persistent Child to Sleep

Updated on July 5, 2008

How to Get the Most Stubborn Child to Take a Nap

Here is an interesting story I wrote in my journal after I began my new role as a stay at home dad. Hidden in the humor is a very practical tool for overcoming a difficult situation. Maybe this will help you as well...

October 10, 2007

Naptime was a challenge my first week as fulltime dad. Well, not with Joe. That boy loves his sleep. He is only 15 months and sleep is still very important to him. Abby, however, is three now and beginning to resist naps more and more. My clever idea of letting Abby watch television for 15-30 minutes when I put her down for her nap turned out to be a big mistake. I would set the timer and it was understood that she was to "close her eyes and go to sleep" when her TV shut off. This worked well for a few weeks until one day I realized she had been in bed for about an hour and I could still hear her television. Quietly, I ascended the stairs to peek into her room without her knowledge. There she was, sitting on the edge of her bed watching Tom and Jerry, which happens to be her favorite cartoon.

Instead of reprimanding her for disobeying, I slipped back downstairs to see what she would do. As soon as the movie ended, she shut off her TV and came downstairs. I asked her, as I always do, "Did you have a good nap?"

She looked up at me with those innocent, big green eyes and said, "Of course I did dad." I suppressed a smile and tried to decide if she was brilliant or incredibly sneaky. After three or four days of my sweet little baby girl ‘secretly' turning her TV back on I devised a plan that has been working well ever since.

We no longer have naptime at our house. We now have "quiet time."

The first couple of days after naptime was abolished I was asked the same question, "Daddy, can I watch a lil' bit of TV when I take my nap?" I wish you could hear the sweetness in her voice. Only three years of age and already trying to work dear old dad with her charms. She is so cute!

"Oh no, baby girl," I say, "We don't have nap time any more, this is quiet time. If we turn on the TV it won't be quiet sweetie."

"But Daaad-dee, I just want to watch a little tiny bit of TV. Please daddy, please?"

After a few minutes of pleading, I could see there would be no easy concession this time, so I did the one thing I absolutely hate to do. I am almost ashamed to admit it; yes, reverse psychology.

"As soon as quiet time is over baby, I promise. Now you lay there, and don‘t you dare close those eyes! I mean it, just lay there and stay quiet! Don‘t you go to sleep!" (she is giggling now)

"I won't daddy!" she says giggling a little more. Ten minutes later she was out. Mission accomplished.

‘Quiet time' is still the way we handle naptime here. The length of the naps are not as great as they used to be, but they are still oh so necessary. My little princess is not so sweet when she hasn't had her nap!


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      Marie 7 years ago

      Thanx for the tip, I'm definately going to try this. I've bren battling nap&bedtime for awhile now. Somtimes I want to give in, but I don't because I know how important the nap is.

    • Stay at Home Dad profile image

      Stay at Home Dad 9 years ago from Georgia

      jjrubio & Jerilee-

      I was just commenting to my wife this evening that my little girl, my baby, will be 5 in April. It doesn't seem possible.

      We are definitely cherishing these moments. I have thoroughly enjoyed each years' joys and frustrations. Thanks to both of you for reading and taking the time to comment... :)

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Very good suggestions, even though it comes 30 some years too late. My daughter would never take a nap. It got so bad at pre-school (because she was interferring with the other kids taking naps), that they moved her little cot into the hall. A few minutes later they went out to check on her. She had taken off all of her clothes and neatly folded them on the cot. She was happily flushing all of the paper cups down the toilet.

      They asked her what she thought she was doing and she explained, "My mommy always lets me sleep in my birthday suit." (Not true) Needless to say, I had a lot of explaining to do, both to her and the teachers. I also got to pay for the plumber to come.

      Like jjrubio said, "Cherish these years!"

    • profile image

      jjrubio 9 years ago

      Very good hub! I remember those days when it was a struggle to get my youngest to nap. Thank goodness that has passed. And yet sometimes I am sad too, sad that my babies are all growing up and into new phases of life. They don't stay little long enough....CHERISH IT!

    • Stay at Home Dad profile image

      Stay at Home Dad 9 years ago from Georgia

      My best friend has employed your strategy as well. He does not make his son take a nap anymore (he is 3 months younger than my Abby) in hopes of getting him to bed earlier. It hasn't worked too well, but now he can't go back to nap time, etiher. My 4 year old and her 2 year old brother share a room. Even with their afternoon nap, bedtime is 8pm. I do allow her and her little brother to watch cartoons until it gets dark (darn day light savings time), but they have to stay in bed. They are normally asleep by 9:30. Like you, I don't mind if they play around a little at bed time, but I still think they need a good nap. And as always, every child's needs are different.

      Thanks for your insights and for reading my post... :)

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      Cynergy Diva 9 years ago

      Interesting strategy. My Grandma used to go insane when my kids wouldn't go to sleep at nap time. When she asked me how I "handled" it, I just said, "I don't. For me, if they don't want to nap in the afternoon it meant it was that much earlier they went to sleep at night." I was huge on naps for myself though having never outgrown it from being "forced" in childhood. LOL So most of the time when I would go down, so would the kids. If they didn't though, they would just play quietly in their rooms

    • Stay at Home Dad profile image

      Stay at Home Dad 9 years ago from Georgia

      Necessity is the mother of invention! :) And for my little angel, naps are still a necessity. Thanks so much for reading...

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Very clever!