Naptime dilemma at school

I have a four-year-old son who is bright, funny, and usually a real joy be around. About three weeks ago, we started having problems at daycare. During naptime he is required to lay down quietly. My son has become very disruptive, talking loudly and running around the room. Can you help us?

Question:

I think there is a fairly easy solution to your dilemma. It is perfectly clear that your son hates rest time. This is not at all uncommon for active children who have outgrown their naps. In some states rest time is required by law until children are in kindergarten. But there are many high energy kids who don't need it. The problem is that many children still do need the rest time. The challenge for teachers is to keep the restless ones on their mats long enough for the others to get some sleep!

This situation, common to daycare centers and preschools everywhere, is not being handled well with your son. His oppositional behavior stems directly from being forced to do something he really can't do. He isn't the one at fault here! It is the grown-ups in charge who have allowed your son's actions to get out of control. It is time to stop the cycle of bad behavior before it gets any worse, and begins to seep into other areas.

First, have a talk with the director. Explain that your son's behavior is directly related to being forced to lie down when he is constitutionally unable to do so. Explain that because the situation has become so emotionally charged, you would like it stopped immediately.

Request that your son be taken out of the room during rest time. Perhaps he can hang out in another class, being a helper for younger kids. Or he can look at books in the director's office. However, it is no use trying to force him to rest. The situation has evolved into a power struggle, and your son's behavior shows how angry he is about it. Certainly, the fact that he behaves well at the preschool proves that this is the problem.

This is not a crisis of your son's making, but of the teacher's. This child should have been asked to rest for five minutes, then told to sit at a table and quietly look at a book. He should have been placed in a corner away from the other children and allowed to play with a puzzle, or anything that doesn't make noise. The ability to lie still and rest can be taught as the child matures and is able to keep his impulses under control.

Next, have a talk with your son. Tell him you understand that he does not like to rest. Explain to him that not everyone needs to rest in the middle of the day, and he will be able to do something else for a while.

If he listens and plays well at other times, then you should give your child a break. Stick up for your child. Let's hope that you, the teachers and the director can work together to make your son's life -- and the life of the classroom -- easier.

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