We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Do your strong-willed children rest well? (Do pigs fly?)
“Please take a nap.” I whispered to my little girl, rubbing her back. She stubbornly crossed her arms while sitting up in bed. Stuffed animals lined the wall, and her brow was furrowed. The special mermaid blanket and purple pillow cocooned her. The sounds of waves from the sound machine played softly.
Nap time started the previous hour, the younger two snoring loudly in the next room.
I trudged upstairs, tucking the willful child back into bed four times. I knew she was tired – her eyes drooping, her behavior extremely weepy and overly dramatic. The night before she was up super late.
“One more book!” she pleaded.
“No,” I replied.
“One more song!” she begged.
“No, it is nap time.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she screamed, “I don’t want to take a nap!”
When your child won’t rest
Do your kids get so tired they can’t handle themselves? When mine have a bad night’s sleep, I’m not the only one needing coffee in the morning – only six-year-old’s can’t drink coffee. Instead, she dramatically falls into the floor when every single thing doesn’t go her way. She can’t wear the Belle dress to the park. Or her brother is standing in front of the T.V. Goodness forbid she have to help me with a small chore like cleaning her room or picking up toys.
How can we help strong-willed children rest?
Did I mention she absolutely 100% refuses to take naps? I can’t tell you how many different tactics I’ve tried to get her to close her sleepy eyes in the afternoon. We’ve sang songs, read books, eaten special snacks, tried a different bed, and been bribed with candy.
Both of us end up frustrated and in tears, so I’ve stopped trying to get her to nap. We attempt “rest time” but let’s be honest. No one is resting when she is asking me for a snack, a drink, and something to do every five minutes for two hours of “quiet time.”
Over the past weeks, I’ve learned a few little tips and tricks for how to help my sweet little strong-willed child rest during the day and get more rest at night.
Three tips to help strong-willed children rest
1. Ordinary Routine
She does much better both at nap time and bedtime if we have an ordinary routine. I’m sure you don’t need me to explain a routine. You probably have one. The worst thing I can do is create chaos. Keeping things ordinary and dependable helps her tremendously.
2. One-on-One Contact
If our routine includes at least 5-10 minutes of one-on-one time, my little sleep boy-cotter will actually feel super comfortable leaving me alone for an hour. Homeschooling helps with this, but even when we don’t have school, reading a book, playing a game, or anything we do one-on-one helps fill her love tank and gives her rest during quiet time.
3. Peaceful resolution
My goal for nap time is not sleep. It is peace. These past few months, I’ve realized rest isn’t about sleeping as much as it is about having peace in our hearts. Sometimes I opt for giving her the snacks, the T.V. show, and letting her curl up on my bed by herself – if it gives her peace.
Fighting with her doesn’t make her lay down and rest. And threatening and arguing about it only leaves us both exhausted. Firmly and authoritatively, I’ve set the guidelines for what I expect (mostly to leave me alone). She then has the expectations and thrives under the umbrella of my control but also the freedom to not have to do something she literally can’t do (like sleep).
The secret sauce to help strong-willed children rest
On the really hard days, we just go to be early. Yes. I’ve sent her (and other children of mine) to bed at 6:30 PM if they showed signs of exhaustion. The next day usually goes much better. My go-to-verse to help strong-willed children rest (no matter their age) is the one I use when I can’t go to sleep.
Psalm 4:8 says “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (ESV)
I explain to my kids that God is the only one who can give us peace so we can rest. God keeps us safe. God is with us and helps us rest our minds and bodies. I usually end up praying for them before they sleep as well. The words of God are powerful (not magical). I can honestly say when I end the time together before sleep with a scripture or a prayer (instead of a threat) my children respond so much better.
How do you help strong-willed children rest during the day? Or at night? PLEASE help a fellow momma out and leave a comment with your thoughts! I can’t wait to read them.
BIO: Sarah writes in a brick house at the end of a road with her husband, five kids, and two cats. Motherhood fills her days with sweetness, but her passion is to inspire focus and encourage deep-rooted Bible study for the busy mom. She is the author of three Bible studies. Life is full of seasons, but every season can be made more joyful when time is spent in God’s word. Join Sarah on instagram at @sarah_e_frazer and her website, sarahefrazer.com. Download Sarah’s FREE prayer challenge here: sarahefrazer.com/prayer.
More from Sarah E Frazer: 7 Days to Peace Prayer Challenge
Less stress & more peace
Seven days of scripture
Seven devotionals to draw you closer to God
BONUS: lock screens and memory cards