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Many children go through phases where they resist sleep, either in the day, at night or both! "How can I get my child to nap?" is one common question parents ask. In a recent Facebook live with Kristen Volk, a mom's child refused to take naps because she could tell it was daytime.

Here are gentle solutions for children who are resisting sleep or sleeping alone.

1. Share your feelings and frustration with a trusted friend or support group

After a few days or nights of trying to tackle sleep issues with a child, parents are most likely tired themselves, and full of feelings about the subject. It's best to offload those first.

Find a listener who will let you let off steam, without judgments. (Our Parent's Support Facebook Group is a great place to find a listener if you are already familiar with Hand in Hand's tools and your children are 12 or under).

"You can get 'mad' at your child," in this space, says Kristen. "You don't want them to hear it. You don't want them to be a part of the listening partnership, but you can say in that listening partnership, 'Go to sleep!' she says.

Use the time to say what you'd like to say, to think about how you feel about sleep, to cry or rant and rave.

"It doesn't reflect who you are as a person, it's more about the feelings you have and the energy behind them," Kristen says. "Those feelings are there when we are with our children, they are behind all the things we say to our children and how we show up, and so when we can work on all those feelings we can show up in a different space, and we can set limits in a different way, we can set limits with support rather than setting limits with anger."

There's a huge difference there in how children experience and how they can move through what's hard for them, she says. "When we show up with frustration and anger or tiredness, they come back with more of that challenging behavior. It's more of a power struggle. When we show up in warmth they can butt up against it, but then they soften."

2. Turn to play 

Once you have made space for your own feelings, you are ready to move onto actively helping your child. A good first move is play.

"Play and laughter are incredibly powerful for loosening up tense feelings, for a child and a parent. We call it playlistening and with this tool you want to create laughter and follow it," Kristen says. Start when things are calm – rather than when you want them to go to sleep.

Get the giggles going by giving a child the more powerful role in play.

Try switching roles

"A simple playlistening idea around naps or sleep could be as easy as you laying on the floor, saying, "I'm just want to go to sleep, I hope nobody wakes me up," Kristen says.

"This prompt, of course, acts as an immediate invitation to a child to wake you up!"

In this role reversal, it's you trying to go to sleep and the child is going to stop you. To keep the laughter going, you try again.

"Try saying, 'Oh! I'm so tired, I hope nobody wakes me up.' The child sits or jumps on you and wakes you up, and you roll around, hugging and laughing.

In the midst of this physical play, you collapse, and snore, and be asleep again, inviting more laughter. Customise games to suit what appeals to your own child's sense of humor and makes them laugh, and let him keep coming and keep waking you up.

Play as long as there is laughter. This play can be great for breaking up the tension that both of you have about naps and falling asleep."

3. Spend some extra special time with your child before sleep 

Sleep is similar to separation anxiety. "If you think about it, sleep is a time when a child is moving into their own space all by themselves even if we are there, even if we are nearby and that can be scary. Especially at night, that's the longest time they are separated from us," Kristen says.

Doing Special Time has a similar effect as it does with separation anxiety—it fills up a child's "connection cup," so that they can have an easier time going from a more aroused state to a more relaxed state.

"Special time can be very useful. Have it on a regular basis. Have it on the calendar, so they know it's coming. Do what you can handle – if it's once a week, that's ok. There's no judgment. Ask what you can reasonably do that makes sense for you and your family, where you can have one on one time with your child," says Kristen.

4. Recognize, validate and support their fears

Lastly, Staylisten. When it comes to sleep, staylisten because you want the child to feel that pain they have about going to sleep at the same time they are getting support from you. (If you are new to Staylistening, read these posts first: The Science Behind the Hand in Hand Parenting Tool of Staylistening and What to Say During Staylistening)

To set it up you would say to a child that it's naptime: "It's time for a nap, sweetheart."

"With a warm voice, tell your child what is going to happen. Expect a child to have a fairly big reaction, because obviously there is resistance there. Stay with the limit," says Kristen.

"A child might say, "No! It's still light out, I'm not, I won't."

"Continue to stay warm. Stay right where you are, in the room you want sleep to happen, and make sure the child stays. Keep your child with you. Be persistent with the limit.

"It's light, but that doesn't matter to the sun. It's still naptime."

"You don't have to engage in a conversation about the sun, or about it being light because that isn't relevant. A child picks something like that as a pretext to stay stuck where they are. Focus on the limit, and stay warm," Kristen says.

"It's a good thing if your child starts to cry. You let them cry about the limit so that they can get your attention and support about the pain they have about sleep. That support helps them heal that fear they have around going to sleep."

Although the limit stays the same whether it is night or day, it might be easier to set during the day, Kristen advises.

By using these tools in tandem, you work on your feelings and you work with your child's feelings in partnership, moving together to work through a resistance to naps.

Originally posted on Hand in Hand Parenting.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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