Q: Over the holidays, our 28-month-old daughter stopped napping. A couple of days we were so busy with Christmas that a nap simply was not possible. Now, we put her in her crib for her to nap, and she spends about one and a half to two hours in there, wide awake, playing and talking to herself, and then we take her out. I know we cannot force her to sleep, but is there some way we can get her to want to sleep and take a nap again?
A: If there is, I’ve never come across it. It just could be that your daughter’s need for a midday nap has run its course (until she’s much, much older, that is). A child’s need for sleep usually begins to diminish sometime between the second and third birthdays, and napping is the first thing to go. That’s just a general rule, however. Some 5-year-olds still need naps, and some 20-month-olds no longer do.
If your daughter still is content to be put in her crib for a nap and she entertains herself creatively during that time, then I recommend that you continue putting her down and leaving her for an hour or two. If she should fall asleep, make sure you wake her at the same time you’d usually take her out of her crib so her normal schedule isn’t disrupted. This will all come out in the proverbial wash.
Q: Our 4-year-old daughter constantly is correcting her 9-year-old brother. She tells him — to use a recent example — that he’s making noise when he drinks something, then proceeds to show him how to drink without slurping. At bedtime, she adds, “And please God, help my brother to act better.” At first, it was cute. Now, however, it’s starting to be annoying for her brother and us. We’ve talked to her about it, but it keeps happening.
A: There are lots of grown men out there who will be able to relate to this. After all, men need correcting. I’ve accepted that, and my life is much better for it.
But seriously, when you react to a child’s behavior as if it is cute and then want it to stop, well, good luck. Once a snowball begins rolling downhill, it becomes increasingly difficult to stop.
But take heart! This can be stopped. Simply sit down with your daughter and say, “It is our job to correct your brother, not yours. You are not a mother. Only mothers and fathers can correct their children. That’s the rule. From now on, if you forget the rule, it means you’re tired, that you haven’t had enough sleep. So, when you forget the rule, we are going to put you to bed right after supper so you can catch up on your sleep.”
I call this an example of “disciplinary judo” because while it’s not really punitive, it’s highly motivational. Obviously, this sort of “gentle” approach works best with young children.
A family psychologist, Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.