Most children under the age of 1 take two naps a day; usually one in the morning and another in the afternoon. By 18 months, most have given up the morning nap but still need an afternoon snooze to make it through dinner without a meltdown. Even when you're not sleeping, your toddler's likely to continue needing her afternoon nap for quite some time. At age 4, more than 50 percent of children are still taking naps. And even though the majority of children (about 70 percent) stop napping at 5 years, 3 in 10 still need a nap at this age. That said, every child is different. Much depends on how many hours your toddler sleeps at night. Toddlers need approximately 12 to 14 hours of sleep in each 24-hour period. So if, for example, your child goes to bed at 8 p.m. and doesn't get up until 8 a.m, she may get her full quota of rest all at once, giving her no reason to need a nap. But if she doesn't get 12 hours at night, then ideally she should get some sleep during the day. Total sleep isn't the only factor affecting naps, though. Younger children tend to have a stronger "sleep drive." This means they have a stronger urge to break up their waking hours with some sleep — in other words, they can't stay awake for long stretches as easily as older children and adults. Now that your toddler's growing older, you'll most likely have a tougher time getting her down for a nap. Toddlers are so intent on discovering the world around them that they hate to miss out on anything, even if they're exhausted. Here are some tips for hanging on to that blessed afternoon nap for as long as you can:
Toddler’s behavioural problems and solutions (part 1) The discipline tool kit: successful strategies for toddlers Parenting can feel like a tightrope act sometimes. When should you discipline your toddler and when should you be laid back? To help your child grow up to be caring and considerate towards others, it's best to aim for a comfortable middle ground. Parenting ground rules: Here are some basics to guide you on your parenting journey especially as a single mum or dad 1. We're all in this together. Right from the start, teach your children that your family is a support system where everyone pitches in. Even a baby can learn to "help" you lift him by stretching out his arms. 2. Listen to and respect each other. Set a good example early on. A child learns by example and from the models he sees around him. When your child tries to tell you something, stop what you're doing, focus your attention, and listen. Expect the same from him in return. 3. Consistency is key. Hold firm to the rules and boundaries you set. Being calm, firm, and consistent teaches your child that you care enough about him to expect responsible behaviour. Toddlers feel more secure if you stick to the limits you set, even if they complain at the time. 4. Life's not always fair. It's natural to worry about disappointing or upsetting our children. But if a child never feels frustrated, sad, or disappointed, they won't develop the psychological skills they need to cope with everyday life. If your child's upset because a younger sibling was punished differently, for example, it's OK to say, "I know this seems unfair to you, and I guess it makes you angry. Let's talk about it." Parenting tactics These tactics aren't guaranteed to work every time, and not all of them will be right for every parent and child. However, they may give you some options. Tactic: lavish love By giving your child as much love and attention as possible now, you're helping him to become well-adjusted and well-behaved. It's important that your child learns to trust you, and he does that by knowing that you're there to meet his needs. That trust means that, in the long run, your child will feel more secure and less anxious. He'll have confidence in you when it's time to set boundaries and lay down rules, and he'll understand that you love him even when you correct him. Real-life example: Your 12-month-old toddler will love to play with you, but may get upset or angry when the toys have to be put to one side when it's time to go out. Letting your toddler see that you can remain calm, even when he is upset, is important. As well as managing your own feelings, you are helping contain his disappointment. He will learn to trust you, and learn that the world is safe, even when he is distressed. And, of course, that there will be plenty more opportunities for games later on. Tactic: Remove and substitute Like the rest of us, young children learn by doing. That said, you don't have to stand by while your child does something you don't like. And you definitely don't want to stand by if your little one's reaching for something dangerous. Take the object away or physically move your toddler from it. Then give him a safe alternative. Make sure you explain what you're doing to your child, even if he's too young to really understand. You're teaching him an important lesson: that certain behaviour isn't acceptable. Real-life example: Your 12-month-old has found your bead necklace and is playing with it. He loves it because it's colourful and he's seen you wearing it. Instead of letting him keep it, take the necklace away from him, explaining that your jewellery is not a toy. Then give your toddler some big, chunky beads that you and he can string together and say, "These are fine to play with." Tactic: put wrong things right together At some point your child starts to understand what he's not supposed to, often around his first birthday. So, there's a difference between dropping peas on the floor because he's exploring his food, and deliberately throwing them on the floor to make work for Mum or Dad. When he looks at you with that glint in his eye ab hnd then drops his food, you know it's time to do something. That something is to start teaching him about taking responsibility for his actions. Real-life example: Your toddler has made a mess under his highchair. When he's finished eating, lift him up, put him on the floor, and ask him to help you pick up the peas. Talk to him about what you're doing, "Look, the floor is messy because we dropped the peas, so we have to clean it up." Tactic: focus on the positive Tell your child when you like the way he's behaving, rather than speaking up only when he's doing something wrong. You may have to work at getting in the habit of rewarding good behaviour rather than punishing bad, but it's well worth it. If we ignore children when they are behaving well and only respond when they misbehave, we teach them that this is how they get our attention. Remember the phrase, "Catch them being good!" Real-life example: It's naptime, a potential battle-zone with your toddler. Head it off by praising even small steps, "It's great that you stopped playing with your toys when I asked you to. That means we've got time for a story. If you lie down straight away, we'll have time for two stories." Keep praising each improvement he makes in his naptime routine, and make it worth his while with rewards like stories or songs. Tactic: ask for your child's help Your child's behaviour is shaped by the attention you give it. If you reinforce the times when your child is helpful and co-operative, he is more likely to want to repeat that behaviour. As soon as he's old enough, involve your child in daily tasks around the house so he learns that everybody works together. Whether it's washing vegetables or sorting washing, mucking in will teach your child to be helpful. Real-life example: At the supermarket, when your child wriggles to get out of the trolley, you can hold up a box of cereal or loaf of bread and say, "I need to get food for us to eat and I need you to help me." Then hand him the box or loaf and let him drop it behind him into the trolley. You can also ask him to be your look-out and help you to spot favourite foods on the shelves. Give him lots of praise and attention for helping you in this way. This means that on future shopping trips, he will be more likely to want to help you again. Tactic: manage anger Tantrums are really about anger management. They happen when toddlers don't get their own way and this makes them feel angry and frustrated. The first step is to find out why the tantrum is happening. Your child may be tired or hungry, or frustrated or jealous, perhaps of another child. He may need your time, attention, and love, even if he's not being very lovable. The next step is to let your child calm down in whichever way works best for him. If he'll let you hold him, hug and rock him until he's quiet. If touching him only sets him off again, give him space to calm down by himself. This approach usually works when your child is more upset than angry and when you also need time to calm down. Children sometimes need quite a while to fully calm down. Don't always expect a cheerful and compliant child 20 minutes after a big tantrum. You may have to wait for as long as an hour or two. Once he is calm, he will be in a much better state to fix any mistakes that were made and accept any consequences. When he is ready, replay the tape and return to the scene of the crime. It's time to fix whatever mistakes were made. Real-life example: Your toddler didn't want to get dressed and threw a tantrum, hurling toys around the room. Once he's recovered, take him back to the toys and calmly but firmly tell him it's time to pick them up. If the task seems too daunting, split it up. Point to one pile of toys and say: "You pick up these toys and I'll pick up those ones over there." Stay there until your toddler has finished his part of the job. If he refuses and has another tantrum, the cycle repeats itself. But wait longer for him to settle down this time, and try to keep calm and stay consistent with your approach. Then back to the toys you go. Tactic: speak your toddler's language Keep communication really simple. Use short phrases with lots of repetition, plus gestures and facial expressions to show your child that you understand what's going on in his head. Saying to your child, "I can see that you're angry," not only shows him that you are trying to understand, but also expands his emotional vocabulary. Real-life example: Your toddler yanks a toy truck out of his friend's hands. Instead of giving him a time-out or trying to explain why it was wrong, give the toy back to the other child. Try to echo what your toddler seems to be thinking and feeling back to him: "I know you want the truck." Validating your child's feelings will help him to settle down, and once he's calm enough to listen, you can deliver your message. Again, give him the simple version: "No grab, no grab, it's Max's turn." This may feel silly at first, but it will work! Tactic: listen to "no" "No" is one of the first words many toddlers learn to say, and it almost immediately becomes the one they say most often. As parents know, the constant refusals can get tiresome. To help you cope, try to pick your battles. Strange as it may sound, one way to prevent these endless "nos" is to sometimes take "no" seriously when your child says it. After all, we all tend to repeat ourselves when we don't think anyone is listening. Of course some things are non-negotiable, such as being in the buggy near busy roads, or having a dirty nappy changed. In these cases, your toddlers "nos" won't carry weight. But try to limit the demands you make of your child to the essentials. Real-life example: You have given your toddler lunch, but he hasn't eaten the banana you have chopped up for him. Check whether he wanted to eat it, and if he says no, take the banana away. You can always try offering it to him later. By occasionally listening to your toddler's refusal, he will learn that the word "no" can carry some weight. This may stop him from saying it automatically.