I’ve got two toddlers, a 3 and a 4 year old, who both still take naps in the afternoon. My 4 year old daughter I never have a hard time getting down for a nap, and never have a hard time with bedtime at night. My son, on the other hand, can sometimes be quite a handful.
Now, I’ve tried all manner of things over the years when I’ve had a hard time getting the kids down for nap. And while I’d love to come forth with a clouds-part-and-angels-sing moment and tell you that I have the magic button that will make all children nap 100% of the time, I don’t think such a thing exists aside from tranquilizer darts or chloroform – and my parenting philosophy sort of rules those last two items out. So, then, it’s a constant game I play to try to make naptime not be Samuel-L-Jackson-Go-The-F-To-Sleep time.
Some times, the issue is that he is simply over-tired and his attention is dispersed all around the universe and he just simply can’t focus on anything long enough to lay down and sleep. The solution there, has been to give him a Scientology Locational Assist and that’s handled things usually in a matter of minutes. Most times somewhat bewilderingly fast.
Other times, the issue is that you never really got the child’s agreement to go to bed, or to take a nap. This quote has proven useful in resolving those type of situations:
“People think that persuasion works with children. It doesn’t. It’s communication that does the trick. You say, “Well, it’s time for you to go to bed now,” and he says, “No.” Don’t stay on the subject. Leave it alone and just talk about something else, “What did you do today?” “Where?” “How?” “Oh, did you? Is that a fact?” “Well, how about going to bed?” and the answer will be “Okay.” – L. Ron Hubbard [source]
The import of the above is – for my kids anyway – going into Enforcer-Mode on them and saying YOU WILL TAKE A NAP NOW YOU DOGS never ever works. They just don’t. Getting into communication with them – like actual back & forth communication (which sometimes first requires a Locational Assist before that even happens, as above) can resolve all manner of things. I’ve found out that my son REALLY had an honest-to-God upset with the fact that a certain stuffed animal was left in the middle of the floor, and on handling that, naptime was possible. Just getting their willingness to lay down & nap, so that it’s their decision to do so, gets the job done.
But sometimes, I’ve done the two items above, and my son has continued to writhe and tumble and squirm around in bed to NO END. No amount of back rubs or “SIT STILL PLEASE!!” or any variation of tone levels got him to just be still and nap.
Now, if you see that Tasmanian-Devil-Child post I wrote, it really is vital my kids nap at this stage of their lives. So, one day last week – after a previous-day’s 3-hours-of-failed-nap under my belt, I tried to get from him WHY he felt the need to squirm endlessly instead of nap. And what I finally got from him was that he really didn’t know what was happening with his legs & arms. It felt to him like his legs had to move but he couldn’t tell why – like he had a muscular itch he couldn’t scratch or something.
Or, in simpler terms, he was having a hard time communicating with his legs and arms. They were on automatic and you could see in his eyes that it was frustrating even him.
After the above conversation I had with my son (one that had proceeded about two hours of random squirming about instead of nap) – I told him I was going to do a Touch Assist. He loved it, brightened up immensely in doing it, and then promptly passed out.
He now asks nearly every day, at night time and during naptime, for a Touch Assist. And, as a curious side-effect, I’ve found that he and I are in much better communication during the day these days, ever since I started giving him regular Assists.
So – again – I won’t say I’ve got the answer to all naptime woes, but if you haven’t already – add the above to your Naptime/Bedtime Toolbox. I think you’ll be glad you did.
And in case you’re unfamiliar with Scientology Assists, here’s a video that gives a great overview: