Naps for Kids over 3
Berkeley Parents Network >
Naps for Kids over 3
My children, ages 3 and 5, will not nap with me. I have always
been the more lenient parent and I am now suffering from it - my
husband believes that their not napping with me shows that I am
not ready for parenting - he has even asked me why I chose to be
a parent if I can't control my children?
The question I want to ask is, is napping the litmus test for
effective parenting? It is true that I find myself cajoling and
bribing them much more than he does - he is much more absolute
in all his discipline and they do tow the line with him. Is this
the desired result?
I find that my weekends always end in conflict because the
children don't nap, my husband checks out on me and I am beside
myself because they are not listening to me. Are there books out
there that anyone finds helpful?
At my wit's end
I sympathize with your sleep/nap problems. In our household,
they have been some of the most difficult issues with kids. I
must say that your husband's reaction seems a bit extreme,
hopefully the result of being tired and frustrated. Let me say,
first off, that my 5 yr old stopped napping when she was 4, and
I don't know too many of her Kindergarten friends who nap
anymore at all. As for the 3 yr old, my 2.5 yr old does take
naps, and sometimes does not want to stop playing with his
sister to do so. Perhaps you could assess whether the 5 yr old
really needs a nap, then focus your energy on being consistent
with the 3 yr old. You might even consider a later napping time
(my little one recently switched to the afternoon).
When I saw the ages of your children, I wasn't surprised that
they don't nap. My youngest gave up naps when she was 2
1/4. She still needs one once in awhile, and definitely has a
tired period in the day, or is exhausted by the end of the day
without napping. I try to have a quiet period where we read
or cuddle to at least give her some rest, and if she is very
tired occasionally she will fall asleep. I know that this year
of outgrowing naps has been difficult.
I feel for you when I read how you doubt your own
effectiveness as a parent, and are challenged by your
spouse. I wonder what you can do to boost your own
confidence as a parent and learn additional skills. I have
received a lot of guidance from classes in Non-violent
communication, offered through Bay NVC in Oakland. They
have a web-site, offer classes and have books on Raising
Children Compassionately (baynvc.org).
When you say that you are at your wits end when your
children don't listen to you, I wonder if you are saying that
they don't do what you want. Making a child take a nap, is
pretty much impossible. All we can do is create an
environment in which they could fall asleep if they are tired,
but there is no way to force it.
I am just hoping that you can find the right support to
develop your own parenting style according to your values,
and find methods to be with your children which both
respect their needs and yours. I am also hoping your
spouse could be more supportive of your different parenting
style, giving you some space to figure things out on your
own without disapproving.
Parenting is a very difficult job, and I just wanted to reach out
to you and encourage you on!
Mom of two
HI! I think you have three separate issues here. First, many
children have completely given up naps by age 3. Some will
continue, but your kids may be telling you that they don't need
them anymore. Give up that battle and get them in bed by 7
sharp! Late afternoons will be hard- they'll be cranky and
tired and hungry, etc., but that is typical- the witching hour
is typically from 4:30 to 6- where kids are really at their
Second, being a lenient parent is a parenting style- sometimes
more effective, sometimes less. Depends on your children's
temperaments. I suggest taking a parenting class- Rona Renner
at Kaiser Richmond, runs one for free to everyone. You learn a
lot about your child's temperament and your own and discipline
styles that will work for you. I fyou google Rona Renner,
you'll find her contact info.
Third, your husband sounds hostile. I don't know if he's right
or wrong, but the comment you said he made is hostile. Families
with young children have the second highest divorce rate (first
year of marriage is the highest). Don't ignore what he's saying
because it's a sign that he's angry. Consider getting a little
marriage therapy too.
Usually kids give up naps when they are about 3 years old. Your
kids are too old for naps.
You'll likely get a lot of responses on this one -- so I'll be
brief. Good grief, NO, getting your child to nap is not a
litmus test of you as a parent! At 3 and 5, they may well be
ready to give up a nap. Even hard core sleep advocates say that
if a child refuses a nap at age 3 or above, it's often because
they don't need it anymore. That said, naps are ALWAYS more
difficult with the parents, and often mom -- kids know they can
push your buttons, and they are more persistent in their
refusals with you. I won't belabor the point, but your husband
seems like he is being quite critical about this and about your
parenting in general. That seems the more important issue to be
Check out two books:
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Children the Challenge by Rudolph Dreikurs
I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and that
napping is not the litmus test for effective parenting. I have
had a lot of trouble getting my children to nap (ages 1 and 3),
and I have experimented with being strict and lenient. I've
found that really the best way to get them to nap is to put them
down at the right time - sometimes it is really hard to tell when
the right time is, though. Sometimes my 3 year old tells me that
she is sleepy and then I have about 10 minutes to get her in bed
before she goes into the overtired, trying to keep herself awake
phase. Routine also helps - same thing every day. What I have
started with my daughter is rest time. If she is not sleepy she
can stay in her bed and read books for an hour. Then she can get
up. Good luck with the naps -- but ifit doesn't work don't take
it personally, and tell your husband to give you a break. If he
thinks he can do better with naps then let him do it. A lot of
kids nap at daycare and not at home. Also, I read in ''Healthy
Sleep, Healthy Child'' that many kids stop napping between ages 3
and 4 so maybe your kids don't need naps?
You'll probably hear this a lot. Your kids not napping with you
seems to pale in comparison to the lack of respect and support
in childrearing you're getting from your husband. Please
discuss this with him and get counseling; your kids should not
get the impression that you're a bad mom because they won't nap
with you. My son will NEVER nap with me; it's much more fun to
be up and awake. He's in the process of giving up his nap
entirely, which is completely normal at his age AND your kids'
ages. There is nothing wrong with not napping.
#1 - Your husband is being a jerk and has a cruel way of telling you
that you need to toughen up with the kids. NOBODY is ready for
parenting, and he should tell you what he does rather than judge
#2 - I recommend not accepting ''no, I don't want to'' for an
answer when it comes to what they need to do, including
napping. You can be firm without being cruel or a drill
sergeant. I ask my daughter to go to bed a few times, and if
she doesn't cooperate, I tell her that I will not allow her to
play with a favorite toy unless she cooperates. Sometimes she
says she doesn't like me (she's 3 and a half), but I don't take
it personally because I'm doing my job as her mom. If she
doesn't want to brush her teeth, I tell her she can't have any
more treats until she does. Again, she sometimes cries about it
or she'll go a day without brushing, but she mostly just
says ''okay'' and picks up her little toothbrush. In any case, we
have enough playtime and tickle time and fun time that any
disciplining I do counteracts the ''I hate yous'' I get when I'm
teaching her to be a good girl and when I need to help her take
care of herself (like making her sleep). Be loving and lenient,
but not about everything. They need to respect you and they need
to know that mommy gets mad, too.
Loving, but firm mommy
Well, there seems to be a lot going on in your message, but I
would first point out that A LOT of 3 and 5 year olds are DONE
with their naps at that age, especially on a consistent basis,
so I would start working on transitioning to a daily schedule
that does not include a nap. Incorporating a quiet time (where
kids play separately and quietly) is one technique if you need
to calm the house down but naps aren't working. But aside from
that, it is important to remember that kids will know if both
parents aren't behind ''your plan'', so if your husband isn't
behind you, you can expect that carrying it alone with the kids
isn't going to be easy. A nap isn't a litmus test-- responsive
kids come from parents that parent together. Good luck.
1) Maybe they don't need a nap? My child stopped napping at 3. 5 years old is
pretty old to be napping everyday.
2) If you're convinced that they need a nap, then my other thought is: You didn't
say whether you work during the week or not, but since you mentioned weekends,
I'll assume you do. Rather than view this as a negative--that you aren't a good
parent (which I find ridiculous!)--how about viewing it as a positive? Maybe the
children are so attached to you and so enjoy your company that they want to spend
as much time with you as possible? They're telling you that they love you and want
your attention. So, with this in mind, some strategies would be to 1) be completely
focused on playing with them all morning so by the afternoon they are more relaxed
2) lie down with them and read stories, so you're participating with them during the
napping process 3) last resort: go for a ride in the car so they sleep.
Napping ISN'T a litmus test of parenting. Happy, curious, centered children ARE. In
my mind, your goal should be to have a wonderful relationship with your children,
not try to control them. If you have a strong relationship, they will blossom as
individuals and will respect you and want to please you.
First of all, there is no litmus test for parenting. It's not like there are 2
kinds of parents, effective and not, and you're either in one group or
another. Why do people even say such silly stuff??? Different people
have different strengths and weaknesses, and you and your husband
are probably effective at different aspects of parenting.
OK, with that off my chest, several things to consider:
--Your kids may be past the age for napping. Many kids have given up
their naps by 3, most by 5. They could possibly benefit from a ''quiet
time'' spent with books or quiet activities in their rooms, but they very
well may not need to sleep.
--Bribing and cajoling are not always the most effective strategies.
Setting consequences, which you explain in advance to your children,
making it clear that it is their choice, and then follow through with,
calmly, is usually a more effective strategy. Perhaps: ''I'd like to go to
the park this afternoon. However, if you do not stay quietly in your
rooms for one hour, we will not be able to go.'' Then follow through
calmly and consistently.
--The book ''How to behave so your preschooler will too'' has a variety of
strategies which may be effective with your kids, and would probably be
worth a read.
Reading you message, I'm wondering if there's a problem with my
parenting. My kids, 2 and 4, don't nap, unless they happen to
be doze off in the car or had a long night up the previous
night. And neither my wife nor I tried to nap with them when
they were younger. Am we the bad parents for not even letting
our kids nap, let alone wanting to nap with them?
More probably, there're nothing wrong your parenting or mine.
To answer your question, napping or co-napping must not be in
any way a measure of good parenting.
But to your concern about kids not listening. You may be
blaming lack-of-sleep for a very normal behavior. Little kids
just don't listen well, whether they've slept all day or not.
Show me a parent whose 4 yr old listens well and I'll show you
a repressed 4 year old. Poor listening/compliance is just a
side-effect of being little, and being 'programmed' to explore
and test people and surroundings. Isn't it?
If getting a child to nap is a litmus test then my husband and
I failed that one miserably. Our daughter stopped napping on
the weekends when she was 16 months old -- meanwhile, she
continued napping all week at day care!
Notice I said ''my husband and I'' -- it's a team screw-up in our
house. Moreover, it is *not* OK for either one of us to ''check
out'' on each other when it comes to dealing with conflict.
Cool off? Yes. Check out? No. Sounds like you've got a few
things going on...1) you two are not on the same page regarding
disciplining the children, and 2) your husband has a very mean
way of dealing with this disagreement and if I were you I'd
tell him that questioning your parenting hurts your feelings
and, moreover, is *not* going to motivate you to change. I
wish you luck with this!
Happy to be one-half of a team
My daughter stopped napping at age 2 1/2. And I had a terrible
time trying to get her to nap (her daycare was more
successful)...I had to put her in the car to get her to sleep.
Success with napping is certainly NOT a litmus test for
successful parenting. Your husband's attitude seems to be more a
test of his aptitude for being a supportive husband...and I would
say he is failing.
Do you kids have to have a nap...what if they don't nap...are
they okay...maybe they are growing out of it. Will they go to
bed a little earlier? Another thing I've heard of is if your
child won't nap, you can simply require them to have ''quiet'' time
in their room. They don't have to nap, but they have to play
quietly in their room.
I'm pretty firm in my parenting and yet my son, who is only 2,
often won't go down for a nap. It his latest thing. I've tried
everything, from lying down with him, to trying to ''make'' him
sleep (ha ha). So it is not necessarily anything that you are
doing in your parenting that is causing them to not nap. Kids
start losing naps around 2 or three from what I've been told.
Besides, you can't make your kids sleep. If someone tells you
to sleep, could you just drop off?
Suggest to your husband that he put them down for naps. If they
go down, great. If not, he'll see the reality. If he threatens
them to get them to sleep, I think he is setting himself up for
a very difficult relationship with his kids come teen years,
when they can really talk back.
I don't think you situation is that unusual. My kids never nap
for me as well as they do for babysitters or at school. My
guess is that they are more active at school or with a
babysitter who can spend all their time playing and focusing on
them. When I'm alone with my children, I often do errands,
chores around the house, etc., which, although necessary,
doesn't wear the kids out as much as active play. Also, a
caregiver is paid to focus just on that child, so they can more
easily steer the child towards a nap. Finally, they're
probably happy to be with you, and want to spend time with you -
- so don't take it as a failure, take it as a compliment (even
though it's exhausting!) I don't think your husbands comments
to you about your parenting skills are fair at all. I think
your situation is pretty common. If he's this judgemental
about your parenting, and you don't see eye to eye on how to
deal with the kids, I'd suggest counseling, or at least have
him go to some talks by child development professionals (such
as Meg Zweiback's talks at Bananas) so he can see that your
situation is quite normal. Good luck and don't let anyone tell
you you're failing as a mom!
a mom whose kids won't nap for her either!
I highly recommend the book ''How To Behave So Your Children Will To.'' The goal
isn't to ''control'' children, but your job as a parent is to teach them how to make
good choices. As you have learned, cajoling and bribing doesn't work for anyone.
Three-year olds and especially five-year olds do not necessarily
need to nap during the day. Try putting them to bed earlier in
the evening instead. Please do not punish yourself for this
completely natural development, which has nothing to do with your
way of parenting. For example, it's very common that children nap
much easier at daycare than at home with their parents. Does that
mean that the daycare people are better at parenting? No, of
Yes, I have a book for you! It's here:
This book changed my relationship with my 4-year-old....we now
fight less and the fights that do happen aren't as bad.
My sister, who is a family and child therapist, gave me this
book and told me that it's the ONLY parenting book she routinely
It is not unusual for children to stop their nap somewhere
between 2 and 3 years of age, and I know very few 5 year olds
who take a nap at all. My own 2 1/2 year old stopped napping
altogether around 2 years old. In my opinion, whether your child
will still take a nap at 3 and 5 has nothing to do with your
parenting...it is part of your children's own development. So
cut yourself some slack, load the kids in the car or go for a
walk and do something fun - anything to get out of the house in
the afternoon when the kids get cranky.
I have a 3 year old son and I completely understand your struggle. I struggled
( and still do) with not wanting to ''control'' him and yet I know he needs limits.
I really like the book Kid Cooperation by Elizabeth Pantley. It helped me
develop the skills to better set limits for my son. My son is happier now that
I'm better at limit setting. He likes knowing that I am in charge and I won't let
his behaviour get out of hand. I think it's appropreate that I'm in charge of his
behaviour at this point. I think he will internalize the behaviour I expect of him
and be able to behave on his own as he gets older.
this page was last updated: May 24, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network