If you’re taking care of a toddler, chances are you’ve encountered resistance when you send your child to his or her daytime snooze. And you’re not alone; almost every parent in the country is struggling to get their kids to nap. With so many distractions and forms of play, it’s hard to peel them from their toys and screens for a few hours of downtime.
It’s easy to blame it all on the Internet. Exciting games with larger-than-life graphics are, after all, much more fun than closing your eyes and counting sheep. However, the refusal to nap goes deeper than that.
With a clear picture of the causes, you are more empowered to guide your children to daytime dreamland.
Why Do They Say No to Naps?
There are several reasons your child wants to stay up, apart from his or her exciting iPad app:
- Fatigue – It’s hard to believe, but exhausted kids have a hard time falling asleep. When worn out, some kids become irritable, restless, and hyperactive. They’ll go to any lengths to throw a fit and fight their drooping eyes.
- Oversleeping – If a child sleeps too much at night, their brains won’t build up enough sleep pressure to lull them to sleep at naptime. Waking up late means they won’t be in the mood to sleep after lunch.
- Conflict in Schedules – Maybe naptime coincides with mom’s garden party or dad’s movie schedule. Maybe the preschool your child is attending have drastically different napping schedules, so the kid isn’t used to it.Maybe your children have different nap schedules but prefer the sleep beside one another. The solution, of course, is for them not to sleep at all!
Giving up and letting the children go free, however, won’t do them any good. Children need the downtime for their brains to secrete growth hormones, produce cytokines for protection against stress and illnesses, and improve cognition. Toddlers need an afternoon nap of 1-3 hours for proper growth and development. Preschoolers need a short daytime snooze, as well.
The Parent Pitfalls—and How to Correct Them
For some parents, fighting fire with fire seems like the only option. Before the complete quiet comes the shouting, nagging, dragging, and punishing. It works sometimes, but it’s not a sustainable solution.
The key to getting your kids to nap is establishing a routine. This teaches children to fall asleep on their own—a skill they’ll need when they grow older. With a routine in place, children are less likely to fight back. Once it’s become a household practice, they are more likely to submit and surrender.
On top of that, make the room as conducive to sleep as possible. There’s still a lot of debate on what makes a room perfect for snoozing (dark walls, dim curtains, soft music?). Parents contend with a lot of questions (Does sleeping under a fan cause congestion? Do I need to sleep beside my child?). Regretfully, there’s no golden rule to making the perfect sleep-inducing environment. You’ll have to watch what works with your child.
Establishing the perfect routine requires patience and time, but it will all be worth it in the long run. Not only will you get at least an hour of quiet at home, but your child will get all the sleep he or she needs, sans the daily struggle.