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Transition from Nap Time to Quiet Time

Question

Hi, our daughter is 2yrs, 10mo old. What age is appropriate for naps to go away?

Our daughter fights naps nearly every day. The problem is that if she doesn’t get a nap is she gets extremely cranky by 4-5pm and we put her to bed by 6:30pm (Normal bedtime is 7:30pm). We’ve tried telling her to lay down and close her eyes instead of saying “nap.” We’ve tried telling her the doctor says she has to nap. We’ve tried persuading her by offering to play with her favorite toy after nap or by saying no favorite toy if you don’t nap. We leave her in her room with the door closed but she screams and screams and cries and cries for 1-2 hours. She bangs on the door or walls. She pulls at the doorstep, trying to rip it off the wall. A full-blown tantrum. What can we do to prevent the tantrums? Or do we let her scream it out in her room for a certain amount of time? How long do we let her cry it out before letting her out? Is it bad to pop into her room and talk to her? Any advice you have would be great. I don’t think she’s ready to drop naps altogether because she gets very cranky in the late afternoon.

Answer

Hello and thank you for reaching back out. Back in July you submitted a similar question regarding nap time and your then 2 and 1/2 old child. Coach Shoemaker offered some great advice regarding the use of Alpha Speech when speaking to your child and also recommended calling this “quiet time” instead of “nap time”. It is normal for kids this age to begin to outgrow their naps however it does not mean that you have to throw the towel in on expecting them to stay in their room for a specified time each day

At this point, the designated “quiet time” is really for your benefit and not so much that of the child. Yes, your child will benefit from this time in that they will learn how to play quietly and independently of you, but the purpose of this time is really for you to get a break. Do you want a midday break or would you rather your child goes to bed earlier each night? Either way, it seems you are buying yourself approximately 1.5-2hours of kid free time.

As Coach Shoemaker stated in her answer in July, you can’t make your child sleep. You can make her stay in her room. If you decide to continue with the midday “quiet time”, using Alpha Speech, a baby gate, a Dutch Door, or simply closing the door and locking it (assuming that the room is 100% child proofed and safe for her to be alone in) you can enforce the rule of requiring her to stay in her room. In our home, we found it easier to just reverse the doorknob so that the lock was on the outside. Regardless of what method you choose to keep her in her room, drop all expectations that she must sleep or that the lights have to be off for “quiet time”. Tell her she can either play quietly, look at books, or take a nap. Tell her it’s her choice as long as she stays in her room. It is unlikely you will be able to prevent tantrums initially as you transition from nap time to "quiet time", but you might get lucky. Some kids like this newfound freedom of choosing what they get to do during quiet time and if she really still "needs a nap" she will eventually fall asleep, even if it's on the floor amongst her toys.

If she still protests, ignoring her tantrums is what it is going to take to make them stop. Don’t “pop” into her room anymore to explain things. She will eventually stop protesting, especially since she knows that playing is an option now. Since we opted for reversing the doorknob and locking the door, once we could tell that our child was quietly playing or sleeping, we crept back up and, very stealth-like, unlocked the door. This way, if there was an emergency or they needed to go to the bathroom they could still get out of their room. We did not open the door or peak in. Once our child grew out of the tantrums and began to respect the rules of quiet time, we stopped locking the door altogether. It’s helpful to use a timer or some other visual or audible cue so that your child knows when “quiet time” is over but that is also up to you. The whole point of this entire exercise is for your child to learn that “you say what you mean and mean what you say”. When you say it’s quiet time, it means you expect them to stay in their room for a specified period of time or until you say they can come out. Hang in there, be consistent with your expectations and stay strong! She will learn! Let us know how it goes and please reach out if you need further guidance.

Lisa J Woodman
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
coachingbythecup@gmail.com

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