Friday, 18 May 2012

Figuring out Naps and Runaway Toddlers!

I'm sitting at my computer listening to hear if my son will come out of his bedroom again.  He's already lost his television time tomorrow, but his inability to sleep tonight that we need to re-think his afternoon nap again.

We thought he was ready to give up his afternoon nap, but after a few days without, it became apparent that he still needed it.  Actually, what he probably needs is a twenty minute power nap each day, but once he goes to sleep, he sleeps for ninety minutes to two hours.  Trying to wake him earlier than that is such a bad idea I wince to think about it. 

Waking is a big, near impossible transition for my son.  He's better these days than he used to be, but waking him before he's ready is a surefire recipe for a physical throw-down tantrum, the only time he has one.  I have resorted to googling this before now, trying to figure out the why of it, but all I've found are a few other mothers reporting similar issues and saying that their child outgrew it.

Anyway, to avoid the tantrum situation, we don't wake him if we can help it.  Instead, we're trying to figure out how often a week he needs a nap.  If he doesn't get enough sleep, his behaviour deteriorates.  If he gets too much, he can't sleep at night.  So far, we've established that twice a week is too little, every other day, too much.  Onto every three days then?  Obviously, the stimulation he receives during the day makes a difference too, but I think we're just going to be making this up as we go along for a few months until he's genuinely able to give up his nap.

One plus: I followed Confessions of a Montessori Mom's advice and started getting him dressed as soon as he got up in the morning, which has helped mitigate some of the behavioural issues as well as encouraging him to get control of himself when he first wakes up.  It took a few days, but now he is accustomed to it, and it's saved us a bunch of time in the morning (as opposed to getting him dressed right before he goes to school).

Meanwhile, my daughter's behaviour has improved markedly since she started walking.  She's too busy exploring her new horizons to misbehave.  With one notable exception: running away.  My son was never much of a runaway.  He did a bit of it, but mostly he was happy to stick close to me, and considering how clingy my daughter has been all her life, I fondly imagined that she would be the same way.

Yeah, not so much.  One of her favourite games now is to wait until I say: "This way!"  She then proceeds to give me a big beaming smile and run (well, toddle as fast as she can) in another direction.  The best part is apparently when I sprint after her and scoop her up, earning a delighted chuckle.

For now, it's not a problem, because she's still pretty easy to catch, but that won't always be the case, so I'm trying to nip this in the bud now.  Ignoring her is obviously not an issue, so I'm switching back to the consequences without anger style of discipline.  I restrict her movements, but I don't give her a big reaction.

One of the best places for doing this is actually the supermarket.  I've most often heard that shopping is best done without the kids on foot, but I have the luxury of being able to go, just me and my daughter, at midmorning when it's fairly quiet.  In a busy store, with me supervising both children, this isn't really feasible.

But this morning, I took my daughter grocery shopping letting her walk.  Every time she ignored my instructions, I said "No", and put her in the trolley.  After a minute or so, I let her out and we would try again.  One thing I did learn was that she was happier when she could carry something, like a jar of peanut butter, although eventually she'd lose interest and drop it.  I also learned that while I could remain impassive as I bore her back to the trolley, other shoppers would undermine my efforts by cooing over her.  Ah, well.  I can't really blame them when she is clearly the most adorable baby ever.

Anyway, a work in progress, but I'd hate to have to get reins for her.  One thing I am going to have to work on is being closer to her when I can tell she's going to make a break for it, so it doesn't turn into the chase that she loves so much.  I am also trying to dial the tolerance down to zero.  I want to give her the chance to comply, but this kind of thing is too big a risk to let her think she can push the limits.

This evening, I grabbed her as she made a dash for the road, and that got me physically turning her face towards mine and talking seriously to her.  That is giving her a reaction, but I think it might be better to do so for that.  Instilling road safety is another difficult issue...  I've just got to find the balance.


  1. I just realized I haven't been to your blog in a while, but I so much enjoy it when I do! I love your slice of life blog posts and it always inspires me to blog more about our trials and tribulations (sp?) at home. And thanks for mentioning my blog post about getting dressed in the bathroom upon waking! It rocks!

    Running off, darting, and bolting is SO COMMON with Down syndrome children! OMG! Seriously! Every mom goes through this with our special kids! My son included! Talk about mini heart attacks! I had to bribe my son a few times to hold my hand in a parking lot on the way to the doctor! That is so NOT MONTESSORI! But typically I'd have a talk with him the night before, then the morning of, then in the car... then out of the car. That helped. That and not chasing him, ever (at home or in the yard that is). And I agree with you on not reacting, unless they dart in the street like you experienced.

    So now that my son is in public school, we walk. Yeah. Lucky me! NOT! It wasn't so much darting and bolting, I pretty much took care of that, it was stuff like dog poo, or garbage, or other dogs! Yikes! But I'm glad I can help and teach him while he is young what is safe and what is not.

    Now? He picks up rocks, sticks, leaves, and smells all the plants on the way to school (lots of roses and rosemary in our 'hood). And he's learning how to safely pet dogs and ask first (we have patient dog owners around us to be sure!). OK, enough, I've talked your ear off! (And written my next blog post for go check it out!). Love your blog and I will make a point to come back more often as it seems to get me to write a lot (and that's great if you are a writer!).

    P.S. You just have to live through the transition from napping to no napping. Can't get around it. (I remember talking to almost every parent at our school about this because their child decided not to nap at school any more and the poor parents were beside themselves with cranky difficult children!) It won't last long and takes about three months to work itself out! My son!? TOOK FOREVER! OMG! Bye!

    1. I think napping transitions can take two days and still feel like they're taking forever!

      Thanks for the reminder of your other blog... I've been meaning to follow that one too. I'm always surprised by how many of your skills with your DS son are also relevant to parenting the 'average' (is there an average?) child. It reminds me of how Maria Montessori developed her concepts by working with special needs children--and the more challenging children I worked with as a teacher, because I always learned more from dealing with them than I did with the children who responded well to the standard methods. Children's difficulties inspire us to think more carefully about our own approach, and that's the kind of thing that is very good for me as a parent/teacher!

  2. Hmmm...this napping situation you describe is so unlike the simple picture we read about. It's all supposed to flow so smoothly, so (as often when I read your posts) I'm grateful to be forewarned, and will be back when I'm there. And with the walking,'s so unfortunate that children LOVE being chased!

    1. Nothing ever seems to flow smoothly when it comes to napping! I just hope my forewarning is not too depressing. There is good stuff coming too, I promise!