How to Get a Tired Preschooler to Take a Nap

by Jennie Dalcour

    Many parents face a daily showdown with a tired preschooler. Their child can transform from an angel to a brat without an afternoon nap. Unfortunately, the more tired your little one is, the more she might try to fight taking a nap. If your preschoolers do not sleep enough, they can become overtired, cranky and can have difficulty with nighttime sleep. With a little flexibility and creativity, naptime can be an enjoyable experience for parents and preschoolers.

    Just as adults vary in how much sleep they require, preschoolers require varying amounts of sleep. The years between 3 and 5 are a time of transition for young children. By 4 or 5 years of age, many children no longer require naps. According to the University of Michigan Health System, 3-year-old children generally require at least a 1 1/2 hour daily nap. You can determine whether your child still needs to take naps by paying attention to her moods and ability to complete daily tasks. A grumpy, cranky or inattentive child signals that the need for extra daytime sleep.

    Pay attention to your child’s natural cues. They will usually display signs of slowing down before developing extreme fatigue. In the early afternoon you might notice your normally active child sits down for quiet play or even lies own to watch a TV show. These calm moments are the perfect time for your preschooler to take a nap. By the time she gets a “second wind,” the naptime window might close. Your child’s sleepy time probably occurs around the same time every day as long as the times she falls asleep at night and wakes in the morning remain consistent. Develop a consistent naptime schedule so you can take advantage of your child’s natural desire for rest.

    Do not underestimate the power of a comfortable pillow. Your child is more likely to surrender to sweet slumber if she has a soft nest in which to burrow. Prepare a quiet area for your little one to take a break from the day. Some children prefer to sleep in a different area from their normal bedtime area. You can place blankets and pillows on the floor or couch in a darkened room to make naptime special. Provide a special stuffed animal for your child to cuddle with only during naptime. Your child might welcome a nap with a stuffed animal that folds into a pillow.

    Preschoolers thrive on routines and naptime is no different. Creating daily nap rituals helps your child know when a nap is coming, which helps them unwind after a morning of play. Examples of helpful naptime rituals include listening to soft music, singing songs and reading books. You and your child can select a book to read together before nap. Children will frequently fall asleep before the end of the book. Your preschooler might grow to anticipate her midday quiet time.

    About the Author

    Jennie Dalcour began writing Internet content in 2009. She has worked several years in the telecommunications industry and in sales and marketing. She has spent many years teaching young children and has spent over four years writing curriculum for churches. She is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in clinical psychology at Regent University and has ample experience with special needs children.

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