3Yo Whining and Throwing Small Tantrums

Updated on April 29, 2011
A.B. asks from Auburn, CA
6 answers

Hi-- My son is almost 3 1/2, and recently (for about 2mos) started losing his afternoon nap. Most days he won't sleep at all, but some days if he does fall asleep, it is really hard to wake him. Since he's been losing his nap, he has become increasingly whiny and constantly battles things-- diapering, eating, doing anything he doesn't want to do. We've been 'counting' him, but some days I feel that is all I do.. and he ends up in the naughty chair a lot. We've put him to bed earlier, but then he wakes earlier... sometimes at 5 or 530am and yells at his door. And the days that he takes a nap, it takes him forever to go to sleep at night, which means he makes a complete mess in his room with his books/stuffed animals. I know that this is most likely directly related to his sleep, but we don't know how to help. It doesn't seem like he will take a 'catnap' in the afternoon.... which seems like it would work best!
Any advice?

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answers from Houston on

I have to make mine lay down when he gets in trouble he usually crashes. If he gets up I hollar lay down and he complies. Some times I have to do it 4 times before he crashes. Make him take naps again and it will remedy himself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids are all teenagers now, but I remember this stage SOOO clearly! They were ready to give up naps even though they still needed more sleep.

It's basically about a year of transition that can occasionally feel like torture for both kids and parents alike. What worked for us was having some "quiet" time in the middle of the day, trying to get more sleep at night (not always easy), and having LOTS of patience.

I'll tell you that it is just a stage - a period of transition - and it WILL pass.

Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

My 3 y/o daughter started to lose the nap before her third birthday but really needed it as afternoons, dinner and bedtime routine were more fussy.
We still did/do quiet time and dont expect sleep but she does have to lie in bed for an hour or so. We started to move dinner and bedtime earlier if she didn't sleep and occasionally do bath before dinner vs after when she's just too fragile. Also we modified our expectations of her and reduced opportunities for power struggles and tantrums.
She will nap occasionally and usually that makes bedtime later, but overall as she's gotten older, it's easier. The first few months were rough because she was dropping the nap but still needed it (as evidenced by her afternoon and evening behavior) but now 6-8 months later, she's evened out a lot.



answers from Sacramento on

We do daycare in our home. Currently we have a 3 1/2 and a 4 y.o. who both want to give up naps, but often need them. What we do is to put out thier cots in the family room/playroom and put on a video that is not too active (currently we've been watching videos of the old Walton's Mountain TV series and the boys love them). We tell them they must lie quietly, but don't have to sleep during the video. Sometimes they fall asleep, but even if they don't, they are getting in some rest time.

I also think part of the whining and battles are age related. It isn't easy growing up and at his age your son is moving from the 'baby' stage to the 'big boy' stage. There is a battle raging within and sometimes he wants to be a baby, but most of the time he wants to be big, so he has to let out those frustrations. Be patient, but firm in not letting him be destructive during this time. "Counting" on him may be helpful in a lot of situations, but sometimes what is required is a simply "we don't act like that at our house, and you need to sit quietly until you can get control of yourself". Don't make it a 'punishment' but let him know you are giving him a chance to gain self-control. We don't ever put time limits on time outs. Rather, we let the boys know that they need to sit until they are calm and ready to go back to playing nicely. Sometimes an apology is required, but always they need to let us know they have regained control and are ready to resume playing.


answers from Dallas on

I don't have advice but you are not alone! Maybe it's an age thing. My son turned 3 last month and he has stopped napping! I still have him lay in his bed and I watch him on the monitor as he plays and sneaks toys into bed with him. He also spends a good amount of time in his time out chair. Hopefully it's just the age and it will pass quickly!! Good luck to you!



answers from Honolulu on

He's still tired.

Just have quiet time for him.
When I do this with my kids, I tell them that it is quiet time for MOMMY too. ALL of us.
And then we do it. All of us.
Low key things.
The rule being, no 'horse-play' and nothing noisy.
Sometimes, even my daughter will just pass out and fall asleep on the sofa, and she is 8.
My son is 4.5, but he still naps about 98% of the time. Still goes to bed just fine even if he naps and still wakes up at his normal time of 6:30am the next day.

Maybe for your son, make everything real BORING in the afternoon & quiet, so that maybe he will lull himself to sleep/nap.
Since he is, obviously tired.

My son gets whiny/fussy and so stubborn, when he is tired.

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