Posted by: mamaamy | October 15, 2008

Peaceful Naptime and Quiet Crying!

Here are a couple of big questions that I have been wanting to try and address:

Question 1: What do I do about nap time for my son? He’s 16 months old now and since I weaned him nap time has been a nightmare! I had to wean rather abruptly and felt kinda bad about it, so we rocked him to sleep every nap and at bedtime and every two hours at night! We had to stand up and dance around or he would scream terribly. He was 13 months old at the time…
Okay, long story short, he’s used to being strolled to sleep in the stroller twice a day for his nap. It was fine for a while because we need exercise and it only took 10-15 minutes. Then he’d sleep in the stroller–but never for more than an hour. Now it takes 30 + minutes and with homeschooling i can’t do an hour to hour-and-a-half each day strolling!
How do we teach him to fall asleep?
We’re using a mattress on the floor for him, in our room. We have a crib, though, we’ve just never used it. I would love to be able to lay him down, rub his back for a minute then walk away. I’ve tried holding him during story time, hoping he’d fall asleep, but he’s SO active he just runs and runs until he’s wildly sleepy but can’t calm down. Would you advise switching him to teach him to lay still and stay in his bed? Would he understand that? or should things be more gradual? what steps should I take to get there? Should i abandon the first nap so he’d be really tired by 2pm and fall asleep easier? (I remember my other 2 children gave up the morning nap around 18 months old.) What do you think of the “cry it out in the crib” method? I’ve always hated that idea, but he’s “crying it out in my arms” anyway, so what’s the difference at this point?
One note, his personality is VERY active and physical, things that worked with my other children don’t work with him.
Anyway, thanks for reading.

Question 2:  When and how do you train a little one to “cry quietly” or “be still” for diaper changing, etc.? At 14 months old, I don’t know if my son can understand “cry quietly” or “sit still” as spoken commands. With “don’t touch” we switch and move his hand, pretty clear. With “come to mama” we have another adult gently guide him over to me until he understands the idea… what do you do to communicate what “cry quietly” means? or sit still?

Here are some of my thoughts:

I would love to address your question of the nap. Let’s start with a bit of testimony. My # three child sounds a bit like yours. Sam was a little destroyer. He was/is incredibly active, he was/is incredibly strong, he was/is extremely determined. All of these traits at age say…15months to 4years…is very trying for the mom. When Sam was that age, I would regularly call Mitch and just cry, “I feel like I am constantly training him and it doesn’t seem to do any good.” He would reassure me that I was doing a good job, to keep at it, and “win.” Then he would come home and take over the training sessions. We set up the candles on the table and then other things that would seem like interesting things for him to touch (but wouldn’t be dangerous or valuable if he broke them.) We would spend time around that coffee table and every time Sam went to touch the “no-no” we would say those words calmly and if he touched it, then we would thump his hand. We would work with him again and again. These training sessions would last 30 minutes or more. It didn’t take long to see that the thumping wasn’t getting the desired result, so we had to increase the intensity. (I hadn’t had to be that intense with the previous two boys: Josh would be so repentant with just a word of correction, Matthan was what I would call a “normal learner”, but Sam was/is “strong willed.” ) He was determined, so I had to be more determined. He was resolute to exert his will in everything. (His soul wanted to rule—he wanted his own mind, his own will, to justify his own emotions rather than submit to me.) He didn’t want to go to sleep, because he didn’t want to miss any activity, but we had to train him to do it. He didn’t want to sit still, so we had to train him to do it. It all took/takes training.

A beginning step is defining the standard for your family and then secondly requiring the standard to be upheld. If the standard is 2 hours of quiet time every day (where they have to lie down quietly and hopefully sleep), then you can train that. If the standard is 8:00 pm bedtime, then you can train that as well. If the standard is mealtime where everyone stays in their seat and sits quietly until they are asked to join in the conversation, then that also can be trained. Once you and your hubby determine what the standard is going to be, then you must dedicate time and energy to that training. If you want your son to take a nap at a certain time, (and with Sam, he moved into the “one nap a day schedule” earlier than the others) then you must decide what that time will be (for the most part) set the child’s expectations, and then be sure that you consistently require obedience. Say, “Son, you are going to take a nap right after lunch everyday. Mama will lie down with you and read you one story, and then I expect you to lie there and be quiet and still. You don’t have to sleep, but you have to obey my word. “Please use your self-discipline and obey my word or I will discipline you.”

Now you must be resolute to train his soul to obey your word. This is critical to the development of his soul. You are training his soul to obey the word of God as it is spoken through His representative authority, namely you. You are training his soul to submit to the Holy Spirit …in you. You are TRAINING his soul to be obedient to the authoritative word of the King. There may be no more important training. Obedience is better than sacrifice.

To be sure, if you do not get one school lesson completed for the remainder of the week, but you spend all of your time and energy training his little soul to obey, then you have accomplished a GREAT work. Once his soul is submissive and willing to obey you will be free to work on many other tasks, including teaching reading and writing and math, but none of these is more important than obedience.

(Of course there will need to be reminders and follow-up training sessions, but they will be less and less, because he will understand that the standard is obedience and that the culture of the home during naptime is quiet stillness.)

This obedience training may/will require minor pain to train his brain that “lie down” means lie down. Depending on his stage of language development, you may have to provide some “comprehensible input” and hold your hand on his back and if he sits up, apply some pressure that keeps him down and say, “lie down” and then give him a switch if he resists. “Please obey my word because obedience brings joy.” This may go on a while, but if you dedicate yourself to the task, it will bring the result you desire. Then when he does do what he is told, you encourage him and tell him what a good job he did resting quietly. “See, obedience does bring joy.”

Just to complete my testimony about Samuel, I will say that all of the trials of training Sam have thoroughly paid off. He is still strong, active and determined, but it is directed toward his mountain-biking, juggling, rollerblading, dirt jumping, uni-cycling, homework completion, cooking, cleaning, etc. If he wants to do something, he doesn’t quit until he has mastered it. As far as obedience is concerned he is as determined to be obedient as anything else. He is compliant and incredibly thoughtful. He is sensitive and very happy-go-lucky. He is jovial and fun. In other words, all that training didn’t “break his spirit” –it trained his soul. Now he can control himself–he is self-disciplined. What a joy he is. Obedience does bring joy!

This leads me to say a bit about “crying quietly.” First, I think it is important to note that crying can be limited significantly by anticipating the needs of the child beginning when he is a baby. This really trains him to know that he is protected and provided for. This is a basic component to child training. If one looks at the child training pyramid that Mitch made (, it shows that the base and foundation of child training is relationship and showing the child that the parent will provide for and protect him. I personally do not believe that a baby (0-6months) can be “spoiled” by anticipating and fulfilling his needs. I believe when we anticipate his needs, we are training his soul to trust the intentions of the Father/father & mother which is the foundation of his son-ship…the welcome benefit is reduced crying.

When a baby is born he doesn’t have the ability to produce meaningful language. He can express himself, though. One way is through crying. As he grows older and begins to express his needs through gestures and bits of language, the crying should diminish. If the parent allows the crying to be a main form of communication, it will be. But I truly believe that there are ways to train our young children to use forms of communication other than crying.

Children comprehend language far earlier than they can produce language (remember what it’s like learning a new language…you comprehend well in advance of producing the language.) With this in mind I believe when a child can comprehend language we begin training him to “rule” over his own soul (self-control.) This includes training him to control his emotions by his will.

Currently, I would identify two developmental stages of soul training:

· Pre-language production (limited language comprehension)

· Language production (accompanied by more advanced comprehension)

Pre-language production children can be trained to use self control, including “crying quietly” by implementing the simple training techniques we have discussed so many times. Identify that “crying quietly” is the standard, then

  1. Repeat a simple (1-3 words) command like “cry quietly.”
  2. Consistently require the proper response (child’s attempt to control crying.)
  3. Administer minor pain for non-compliance (no attempt at self-control.)
  4. Repeat as needed.

As a child matures and his language development transitions from pre-production (with limited comprehension) to production (with more advanced comprehension) then a more complex training session is required. These sessions include good teaching strategies like “vocabulary development” and “background building.”

Like language learners of any age, children become frustrated when their limited vocabulary limits their ability to communicate. This is especially true for subjects as abstract as emotions. If a child doesn’t know the word for a concrete object, like a truck or doll, then they simply point at what they want and we take that opportunity to use the “comprehensible input” and develop vocabulary. (We say, “truck, that is a truck” or “doll, this is a doll.”) However, when they are experiencing an abstract feeling like an emotion they cannot point to it. With this in mind we must equip children with vocabulary that will help them to identify, categorize and deal with their emotions. Vocabulary can only be developed in the presence of “comprehensible input.” Have you ever tried to learn a language by listening to audio tapes? The speakers ramble on while you guess at what they’re talking about. This technique is ineffective because there is no “comprehensible input”–no pictures. More to the point, you can only teach the word “frustration” when they are experiencing that emotion.

When a child experiences emotion like frustration, disappointment, discouragement, anger, jealousy, etc., three things are needed.

  1. Vocabulary development in the presence of “comprehensible input”
  2. Background building
  3. Instruction in the proper response

First, an interpretation of their feelings is needed for comprehensible input. For example, if a child does not get something that he wants, the parent should interpret the emotion he experiences from being denied what he wants by saying, “Right now, son, the emotion that you are feeling is called disappointment….” Second, after providing the interpretation and developing vocabulary the child needs for us to build background –to provide some stories about other times when he was disappointed, or to testify about when we were disappointed. Finally, he needs to be instructed as to how we properly conduct ourselves when we feel like this, “…and the proper response to “disappointment” is to say, ‘Oh well, maybe next time.’”

Once he has been equipped to manage his emotions, through vocabulary development, background building and being instructed in the proper response he may manifest his emotions through the exercise of his will. At this point we can assess what soul training is necessary.

If he is tempted to express his emotion by crying out, fit throwing, or screaming, we recognize this as an opportunity for soul training–specifically training the will (not the emotions.) Their will must be trained in self control. We do not spank a child for being disappointed, but we may for not using self control and for being disobedient. At the point one experiences an emotion one has a choice to exercise the will or let the emotion “high jack” the will. If one doesn’t know the proper response to the emotion he feels and is not trained to exercise his self control over that will, then he will likely cry out, throw fits or do whatever thing he feels like doing.

If we are indeed raising up kings to rule well in the Kingdom, then kings must learn to “rule” their will, beginning with “exercising authority” over their emotions. Before one can be entrusted to rule over others, one must be in control of one’s own soul and be able to submit it to the Spirit.

Until a child has the Holy Spirit and is mature in operating from this “control center,” the child must learn to submit his soul to the Spirit… in us. Our task in training the soul requires use of the body. (The Bible says, “He that suffers in the flesh is done with sin.”) The brain is the interface between the body and the soul. So to train the brain is part of the process of training the soul. It may seem crazy to switch a child and then require him to cry quietly, but what is needed is brain re-wiring. The minor pain is telling the brain that it is painful to indulge our emotions and scream and cry. (After all it is painful to those who are listening.) As we deal with the soul of the child (in this case the emotions of disappointment), the brain becomes re-wired (by the consistent training) and makes the connections necessary for the soul to invoke the will (obedience) and make the body to respond (the evidence of obedience.)

Even though you have asked about specific incidents or “problems”, I wanted to address the topic in a more general way so that you can see that this concept of TRAINING is applicable to myriad issues related to the exertions of the soul by a child.

The key is understanding that:

  • God made us all with a soul (mind, will, and emotions.)
  • His desire is that we would operate like His Son Jesus and submit our soul to the Holy Spirit.
  • If we are not obedient to the Holy Spirit, then God disciplines those he loves and trains our soul to submit to the Holy Spirit.
  • This soul is what must be trained in us, and this is what we are training in our children.

As we continue to train the souls of our children to submit to the Holy Spirit in us through obedience, ideally our children will easily transfer direct obedience to the Holy Spirit when they are of accountable age. Therefore, our efforts in training the souls of our children have eternal impact.



  1. The Holy Spirit has been speaking to me for a long time, for my heart has been seeking God’s will for my family. My husband has tried to set the standards but I’ve spent years being disobedient. Finally this year, after 15 years of marriage I finally practiced full submission. Now I’m hearing my husbands language regarding standards, one being nap time for my 3 year old son. I gave up on nap time several months ago for I thought he had a strong will and was stubborn. Now after implementing standards and being disciplined to stick with it, I’m sitting here writing a note of gratitude and a note to say IT Works!!! My son is napping after two weeks of training him to be obedient to my word. Thank you Amy
    Warm regards, Michelle

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