Our oldest child fought sleep every chance she got for her first few years. Knowing her now, I realize it was because she was afraid she might miss something while she was sleeping. To this day, her body requires more sleep than most, but it can still be hard for her to give in and rest. There were times when I was tempted to let her drop her naps in the early years; the struggle sometimes seemed to outweigh the reward. But I persevered, making sure she never thought that naps were optional.
I noticed that when she was discovering a new skill, our daughter was so excited that she could not settle herself down enough to sleep. At those times, I simply required her to stay quiet in her room for a while, to give us both time to be alone and sane. It was interesting to me that, days later, after she had fully mastered the new ability, she needed her nap even more than before!
Obviously, it is up to parents when to allow their children to drop their naps, but it seems that sometimes parents allow the children to decide, and this is not fair to anyone. The general guideline is that babies should sleep up to 15 hours per day, toddlers 14 hours and elementary aged children up to 12 hours. There are so many children who are exhausted and their parents are, too!
Research shows that sleep is important for healing, growth, mood and weight control in adults and children. I believe that we do a great disservice to our children, and to ourselves, when we hinder their sleep with lots of plans, caffeine and busyness. When they are young, children need a scheduled time to rest every day. Making room for this can teach them to relax, to comfort themselves and to listen to their bodies.
After church on Sunday, my 17 year old had big plans for the afternoon: nap and homework. In that order. I am proud to say she had a very successful day.
- Go to Sleep! – Busy Toddlers – Terrible Two (everydayfamily.com)
- For adult sleep information: http://bodyodd.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/31/17520327-how-insomnia-harms-your-heart?lite