Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nap time, part 1 (the pre-nap)

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret” -2 Cor. 7:10

As most moms appreciate, naps are a big part of the life of kids. Babies might take two naps a day and older kids one. So much is growing so fast in kids that they need the extra rest time. However, the “pre-game” preparation for the naps can be a daunting exercise.

Jeanie and I just returned from another wonderful trip to Amarillo and spent great time with Elizabeth, Mark and our granddaughter. Reese is 10 months old and such a sweetheart. Elizabeth and Mark are great parents and, of course, we’re totally convinced that she is the smartest and most beautiful grandchild in the history of…grandchildren. But, like most kids, she’s not quite as sweet when it’s naptime.

Like most kids, she resists the idea of a nap. Though she’s tired, rubs her eyes and yawns, she wiggles and squirms and tries to keep herself awake. But the appropriate resolve of mom and dad is to stay the course and within a few crying minutes, Reese is sound asleep and at peace. The momentary tears and crying are worth it because the nap is necessary for the health of Reese, whether she understands it or not. The same is true of our teenagers. It’s important for parents to stay the course if we know the outcome is for their good.

By the way, research supports the need for resilience in naptime preparation. I remember learning in Graduate School that our brains are constantly producing electrical brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Our brains crave Beta wave activity and when we tire, we regress to Alpha and Theta waves (when we sleep, we are in Delta sleep). So, when we tire, we try to physiologically stir up more Beta waves. It’s why babies seemingly have more energy before they fall asleep and why kids are hyper when they tire. It’s why pre-nap time can be difficult. It’s also why we give stimulants (Ritalin, Cylert) to hyperactive kids. It’s called “paradoxical medication.” It truly is a paradox. The stimulant raises brain wave activity and settles down the child.

OK, enough scientific talk. The point is, it’s tough getting kids to relax and submit to what they need. And it can be tough to get teens to do the same. The amount of resistance we experience from our kids usually does not correlate to what they need. It’s as simple as trying to wipe the nose of a baby- they don't like it. But they need it.

Therein lies the catch. Much of what we do as parents is not popular with our kids and we like to be popular. We have to remember as parents that we’re not trying to get our kids to like us as much as we need them to respect us. Sure, we’re their buddies, but we’re mostly their coach. There is a difference.

Buddies have fun, make pancakes and play catch. And parents need to do fun things with their kids. But a coach isn't trying to be liked. A coach is teaching. A coach is thinking farther down the road to game time and preparing his players to be ready.

A coaching parent stays the course with his crying child because he knows that the nap is needed. A coaching parent lays down discipline towards the disobedient child because he knows life will be easier for his kids if they obey authority.

So the next time your kids resist your instructions, resolve that the course is the right one, stay the course, and lay them in the crib, whether they like it or not.

And pray they sleep well.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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