You worried when she was a baby because she wouldn’t sleep enough. Ironically, you now find yourself anxious because she sleeps too much!
She becomes tired and irritable after lunch, and within an hour or so, sleep seems to be the only solution.
It’s hard to imagine her getting through a long day in Primary 1 – just months down the road – without a snooze break. So, of course you’re worried about how to get her to stop napping.
At this age, your child still needs about 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. If she doesn’t get this amount, she will be cranky at some point the following day.
So, think hard about her evening routine, particularly the following:
Did she get enough sleep?
If she is still sleepy and looks exhausted in the morning when she wakes up, then it is likely she needs to go to bed earlier.
Getting under the blankets even half an hour earlier than usual can make all the difference.
She is old enough to understand the positive effect this has on her, although she may protest anyway.
Is she playing instead of sleeping?
Going to bed isn’t the same as going to sleep. Some children look at their bed as an extension of the playroom, and spend hours with toys and games while they lie under the covers. Others spend too much time on screens before bedtime, which affects their ability to fall asleep.
No wonder they are tired the next morning. Check that your child doesn’t play for too long before the light goes out.
Does she often have nightmares?
Waking up because of bad dreams obviously disrupts sleep patterns.
A child whose slumber is regularly disturbed by nightmares will be tired in the morning and find it hard to stop napping during the day.
Talk to her about this. Perhaps she worries about something to such an extent that it causes bad dreams.
Is her morning routine too hectic?
The way your child rises from bed in the morning affects her the rest of the day.
Make sure she has plenty of time for getting up; that she is relaxed and doesn’t have to rush. That sets the tone for the remainder of her day. A good start can help her stop napping during the day.
If you effectively manage all these possible influences on your child’s sleep needs and made changes where necessary assuming there is no underlying medical problem and your child eats well – then you should be able to reduce her reliance on daytime sleep without much difficulty.
Explain to your kindergartender that you understand she still likes to have a nap, but you want to stop this habit because she won’t be able to do so when she starts primary school.
Tell her none of her classmates will want a nap and there is no place for her to sleep in school even if she asked to. She needs to be awake the whole school day so that she won’t miss any activity.
Then pick a day when she will not have an afternoon nap. Do everything you can to encourage her to have a good sleep the night before, and have a structured plan for the day itself.
Since you know she tires by mid-afternoon, organise an activity that she will enjoy, and take her out of the house at the time she normally climbs into bed.
This could be an outing to the playground or a trip to the swimming pool.
Don’t mention “sleep” during this time. Keep her busy and amused during the activity – the excitement will distract her from seeking a break. And make sure your child goes to bed earlier than usual that night.
When you have achieved a sleep-free afternoon once, you’ll find it much easier to achieve it the next day – and each day after that.
Within a week or so, both you and your child will have completely forgotten that she used to nap during the day.