When your child openly declares that he’s already giving up his daytime nap, how do you think you’ll respond? For many toddlers and even preschoolers, the idea of a few minutes of rest during the day has become more of a nuisance to their already fun-filled day. And with your child already accustomed to asserting his independence, are your old strategies in getting him to nap still effective?
If you have been looking forward to those daily naps so you can also take a break, don’t give it up just yet. Naps are actually good for kids because it gives them that energy boost so they can last all day without being so grumpy. But getting an active and assertive kid to take a nap can be easier said than done.
Here are some ways on how you can get your child to nap without having to drag him to bed:
1. Make it fun. If your child perceives naptime negatively, you can never expect happy compliance. Instead of imposing naptime as something that he has no choice with, make it fun so that he will end up looking forward to getting in bed each afternoon. Keep a collection of toys that will serve only as rewards for taking taps. Each time your child takes a nap, give him the privilege to play with those toys for some time. Never allow him to play with those “reward toys” at any other time so that he will still look forward to playtimes after naps. You may also put up a compliance chart. Award a star each time he takes a nap and present attractive rewards such as trips to the park or library in exchange of accumulated stars. In time, your child will get so used to the routine that he may no longer need any reward just to get him to sleep.
2. Offer choices. If the bedroom is your child’s least favorite spot and you have to devise tactics just to get him inside for his nap, give up the fight and move the venue in another area in your home. Your child would love to get some autonomy especially if naps were concerned so allow him to choose on where he’d like to take a nap. You can even go fancy by setting up a small tent in a quiet corner in your home so he could take his afternoon nap, camping style! Make sure that you explain to him that this cool spot is only for naps and not for night time sleep.
3. Set consistent naptimes. It will be more difficult to get your child to take a nap if you regularly disrupt the routine with unplanned activities. Having a schedule gives kids security because they will know what to expect during the day. When your child is used to his routine, he will no longer give you such a hard time because he knows precisely what activity is next.
Young kids may assert their independence and opt to say NO to most things. But with structure, consistency and persistence, you can get your kids to regularly take naps. And while it may be tempting to put off your child’s nap time for quick errands, keep the schedule because fatigue can easily result to tantrums later in the day.
How do you win the battle of getting your child to take naps? What strategies do you apply so he’d stick to his afternoon sleep schedule?