15 answers

3 Year Old Won't Nap at School

My mostly delightful but incredibly stubborn three year old won't nap at her pre school. The individuals who run the school use the principles of Love and Logic - and for the most part, this seems to work with them and at home. When we first started having issues with naps, she was offered a less desirable option (e.g., cleaning the steps) and after 2-3 days she decided napping was the better option and started to regularly lie down. This was several months ago and I've not heard much about it since except the occassional comment that she didn't nap. I learned today that she hasn't been napping the last two weeks even thOugh they spend focused time trying to get her comfortable (patting her back, etc). They eventually strap her into a high chair where she proceeds to cry/scream - sometimes up to an hour. Shoe goes to bed every night without issue and naps for 1-2 hours when at home in the weekend. She is still in a crib at home but since she's not tried to climb out we haven't been in rush to move her to a toddler bed. We did take a special blanket for her today but that didn't seem to help.

Here are my questions:
- is it common to use a high chair as a restraint like this?
- what suggestions do you have as an alternative to the high chair?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your input. This is the first time I have ever posted a comment/question and I can see myself doing it again. Here are answers to a few of your questions and a bit more context.

- my daughter attends a licensed in home pre school. As such, there's usually just the owner and one other teacher for 8-12 children.
- love and logic is based in the concept that given children choices (and consequences) today helps make them better teens/adults. I like the premise but I am also a strong believer in the idea that everyone is unique so there's not a one size fits all approach.
- while I understand the comments about potential abuse (which is why I posted too) I think that everything else about the school is fantastic - great balance if learning and fun, I get texted pix throughout the day of activities and how they are benefiting my child, small class, etc.
- the teacher has cited safety as the reason for the high chair. And once I challenged them on this yesterday they asked me to help identify alternatives. My biggest issue is that this has gone on so long without communication.
- at the risk if sounding like most proud moms, my daughter is advanced in language and cognitive capabilities she also happens go be tall for her age - and we often have to remind ourselves that she just turned three this month. Smetimes I think we expect more from her than she is developmentally ready to give
- my husband is off today so he is going to spend time at the school and work with them specifically at nap time
- at the same time, I will be visiting other schools and exploring the option of a nanny

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

That's horrible! They cannot strap her in a high chair like that!

My daughter stoppped taking naps completly about age 3. She just needs some quite time to look at books and maybe color for 45min - 1 hr by herself.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Hi C.,

I am appalled to hear that your care provider is handling your daughter's not napping in this way. Something is terribly wrong here.

I'm not extremely familiar with Love and Logic-- is this a stated principle, to force children to clean stairs, or strap them into a high chair? In my 19 years of working with kids and reading loads of books, I've never come across these solutions.

Why is she being punitively coerced into napping. Cleaning the steps? This just breaks my heart. How about sitting on the bed and looking at a book?

When I was a toddler teacher at an NAEYC-accredited daycare, we sometimes had children who just had a hard time napping at school. One of the primary beliefs of good caregivers is to know that we cannot force biological functions. We cannot make children eat, sleep or use the bathroom, all we can do is to provide the best possible environment and support for those things. When children in my group had a hard time settling down, I spent extra time with them. When it was apparent that they weren't going to be able to sleep, we always found something quiet for them to do: playdough, table work with markers, reading books. We never forced them into sleeping, and wouldn't have dreamed of restraining a child in this way.

The alternative to the high chair is for your caregivers to be using developmentally appropriate practices (outlined by the National Association for the Education for Young Children) and providing other quiet activities with respect to the abilities of self-regulation of a three year old. Asking an awake three year old to stay on a cot for a long period of time isn't respectful of the child's level of ability.

Add to this that the crying and screaming in the high chair is likely to wake the other children up.

If it were me, personally, I'd be looking for caregivers who understand the needs of the young child and who have some understanding (and tolerance) of accomodating the changing needs of preschoolers. My son dropped his nap before he was three. Many children do.

And if someone used a high chair restraint like this for my son, I'd never return and would register a complaint with the child care resource and referral. Totally inappropriate.


8 moms found this helpful

I have been a home daycare provider for 14 years. I would never use a high chair as a restraint for an unhappy child, especially for an hour. That seems really excessive. An hour to a small child is a very long time. I completely understand that they need a safe place for your child, but I would never be okay with extended time in the high chair. I'm not sure what alternative to suggest though. I have never had a problem getting a child to at least lay quietly in the room with me. Some children refuse to stay quiet or laying down if I leave the room.

5 moms found this helpful

Have they thought that maybe she doesn't need a nap. My daughter stopped naps when she was 2 1/2 as they were affecting her night sleep and from your post it sounds like your little one goes down fine at night for you. All kids are different. My nephew was still napping when he was 4. I would speak to the school and suggest another activity for her. (sitting quietly reading for example with one of the teachers.) Maybe the staff treat nap time as their break time from the kids?? Well too bad as they are getting paid whether the kids are sleeping or not plus I would go crazy about the high chair situation, that sounds like she is being punished for not sleeping. :-(

3 moms found this helpful

I agree with the other posts; this is inappropriate and I'd pull her from that daycare. The fact that your husband is going to teach them how to manage something basic like a toddler who is transitioning out of napping is an indicator. What else are they missing that you're unaware of?
I too have a tall and verbally advanced 3 year old who sleeps in her crib and rarely naps at school, occasionally at home. We too have to remind ourselves she's only 3 even though she seems much older.
We and the daycare do quiet time; she doesn't have to nap but she does go down at naptime like the other kids. If she's not able to stay in her cot at school, she does quiet play or helps teachers clean-up.
I know they are great in other ways, but I suspect they are not so great in ways you are unaware of and lots of other daycares/schools are great and out there.
I just question the common sense of someone who straps a 3 year old into a highchair for an hour of screaming and doesn't tell a parent. I think as a childcare professional, you should know there is so much wrong with that and not do it.
Good luck to you.

3 moms found this helpful

I think it's terrible that they strap her to a high chair. The child doesn't feel understood. It is very important that your child feels loved and understood. I suggest a home daycare with a spare room for napping to create a home away from home setting with their own bedding and trying to help the child understand at their level how to communicate why they are resisting the nap. I am a daycare provider and a certified teacher and a mom that strongly believes and practices understanding of children in order to overcome any obstacles.

Hope this helps and good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

That's horrible! They cannot strap her in a high chair like that!

My daughter stoppped taking naps completly about age 3. She just needs some quite time to look at books and maybe color for 45min - 1 hr by herself.

2 moms found this helpful

My almost 3 year old hasn't napped in a year. If her preschool forced her to nap when she didn't want to, and then used physical restraint!?!?!? I would soooo pull her out of there.

2 moms found this helpful

My son, who is 3yrs 2months, is done with napping too. I think some kids just grow out of it. It's much easier for him and for us if he isn't forced into it. He goes to sleep easier at night, stays asleep all night, etc.

I have never heard of strapping a child down during nap times. I would say it's never appropriate to strap a child down, for any reason. I would not allow that to happen to my child. I would think the center should have a better method to deal with situations like this, rather than use physical restraints.

I would get her out of this situation immediately.

2 moms found this helpful

yeah i would be considering changing schools. using a high chair on a three year old to restrain them is...questionable? to say the least. secondly, the fact that she won't nap for them, but she will for you, puts this issue firmly in their laps. obviously they aren't blaming you or accusing you, since you just found out after two weeks of her still not taking them, but still - it's their job. i don't know any reason a 3 year old who is perfectly reasonable (as reasonable as a 3 year old gets anyway!) at home should be being so difficult. i say change schools and see if that helps. i would be super suspicious. and if it was my kid involved, that suspicion would be plenty to get my mama bear riled up.

ps - not for nothing, if they are leaving her strapped to a high chair for up to an hour screaming - i wouldn't feel comfortable going to sleep there, either. think about it.

2 moms found this helpful

she should be allowed to lay down and look at books.They can remind her to be quiet and not sing or talk.

2 moms found this helpful

I totally agree that strapping a 3 year old into a high chair because she won't nap is highly inappropriate. I also follow Love and Logic and they say that what they recommend does not supercede specific individual circumstances or common sense.

1 mom found this helpful

I have exact similar situation for my son when he started off at preschool when he was a little over 2 years old. It was big mistake for us to make for him. He would nap at home but, never at school. And, he was so distracted by surrounding. At some pt of time, I paid extra money to the school to have someone just stay with him during the nap time. Imagine a 2-3 year old kid got so bored for the nap with nothing to do. Now, your case is they will strap her on the highchair which is a cruel to the child. Also, due to no nap, and it was totally stressed him out, then, other bad behavior came out, like tantrumun and hitting.

After like few months, we knew that it is just our son not the type to nap at school but, he is generally happier child. ANd, the sleep was the main issue for all other bad behavior, so we pull him out and let him join half day of school. My husband and I both work full time, we have to run to school and pick him up at the lunch hour and take him back home with baby sitter. It's crazy doing it everyday for the week. But, it is the best for him.

1 mom found this helpful

Since everyone answered your question below, which are good answers, I would like to add that she's really getting too old for a crib now. It's time to change her over, usually age 2 is the best time.

1 mom found this helpful

I remember thinking it was odd that the other children at kindergarden took
naps . I was just four at the time. My mother told me I gave up naps at
around 18 months.

Some people just don;t nap. Now I do....
About the high chair. I would never take a child back it such a thing
happened to any of my kids.

1 mom found this helpful

I believe this action (i.e., strapping in her in a chair) is actually against the law, and as a licensed professional they could lose their license over this. This would be considered a violation of your daughter's personal rights - you cannot force a child to nap or in the alternative keep them awake when they wish to nap.

I would seriously reconsider having your daughter in this environment. Would you like it if your employer physically strapped you to a chair because they didn't like your production?

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