Four year old nap drama

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-26-2005
Four year old nap drama
Sat, 03-02-2013 - 9:45am

Hi everyone. 

I posted this issue on the Two & Three Year Olds board back when the little guy was three.  Now that he's four, I figured I'd give this board a shot.

My name is Michelle, & I've been a full time nanny for a family w/three children for the past 5.5 years.  I've been watching the four year old, N, since he was born.  He's always been a great napper, & rarely complains to this day about taking one. 

The problem is that about six months ago when he was 3.5, his mother asked me to stop having him take naps.  It's of course because she wants him to be nice & tired when it's bedtime at 7:30.   The problem w/this plan, however, is:

1. Naps are essential to developement of little people's brains.

2. If he doesn't take a nap, he's a wreck by 4:00.

3. I need a little break!   (Okay, that one may be selfish, but I'm sure everyone here has spent 10 hours straight w/a four year old asking trying questions all day, & may need a tiny bit of alone time from them.)

We made a compromise that instead of nap time he could lay in his bed quietly & look at books for an hour for quiet time.  Everyone seemed fine w/this  new arrangement.  The problem is that, he almost always falls asleep w/in 10 or 15 minutes even though I put a big pile of books in his bed & let him know he's cool to look at them to entertain himself.  I always get him down around 1:15, & I definitely have to wake him up at 3:00 or else his mom is going to say something to me again.  Waking him up at 3:00 is impossible.  He's still super tired.  I know that he's getting around 11 hours of sleep at night, so him needing to nap for two hours doesn't seem completely unreasonable, right?  I can't really put him down earlier than 1:15, because he goes to school a couple of mornings a week & we don't get back until near 1:00.  

I guess being just a nanny & not a mom, I can't full understand why it's so important that he's in bed promptly at 7:30 every night.  If his parents don't see him all day, wouldn't they welcome an extra hour to spend w/him at night?  Being that you're all moms, I'm guessing that you're just going to say that I should do whatever his parents tell me to.  But any advice or opinions you could give me would be great.

Thanks so much. :)

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 03-04-2013 - 12:22pm

Hi again!  I think that given that he is falling asleep pretty quickly, he's definitely tired and needs the nap still.  My 3 1/2 year old still will easily take 3 hour naps even if she gets a solid 10 hours of sleep at night, some kids are just like that.  I do understand from a parent's perspective wanting to get them down at a certain time each night even if they do work all day, but to cut out naps completely especially if he obviously still needs one doesn't make sense to me.  I tend to defer to whoever has them during the day to know what is best for them regarding naps, etc., but I would definitely want them up by 2:30 or 3:00 at the latest.  My youngest is a night owl, and like your little one, she is a bear when she wakes up or is woken up earlier than she is ready to be woken up.  I don't know if there is much of a solution to that other than just picking a time, say 2:45 and waking him up and getting him into the solid habit.

How do you wake him up?  Could you go in say at 2:30 and open the door or gently rub his back and let him wake up a little more slowly, or noises from the house "stir him" into waking up so he's a little less grouchy?  Those are the only things i can think of.