Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Tired Tantrums

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Henry Bernstein, M.D.

Q: My five-year-old daughter has been having these uncontrollable fits every time she is overtired. I refuse to give her a nap because she will be up until 10:00 PM. She causes herself to cough excessively, and I cannot seem to calm her down. I have tried placing her in her room, sitting her on the couch. I think she is being a typical five-year-old trying to grow up. Do you have any suggestions on how I can avoid this 6:00 PM every-night occurrence?

A: It is really common for kids to want to rest part of the late afternoon, after what has been to them a long, active day. Kids have so much energy and are usually busy all day. Letting your daughter rest or even sleep for a short period of time, maybe only 30-45 minutes, may in fact be just enough so that she does not act overtired. Although this is not meant to disrupt her normal sleep patterns, this can be particularly problematic because of the time of day--you may be trying to prepare dinner and other family members may be coming home after their day activities.

Not letting a child nap can be a difficult battle to win. The excessive coughing and being unable to calm her down are certain to get at least some of your attention. Time-out technique doesn't work effectively when its purpose is to change a natural behavior. Having her sit quietly--turning pages in a book, playing a low activity game, or watching a movie or TV show--may help. It may be easier to look at the rest of her day, in the earlier hours, and see whether some adjustments there may make the evening hours more tolerable for everyone.

More on: Expert Advice

Henry Bernstein, M.D., is currently the associate chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and director of Primary Care at Children's Hospital, Boston. He also has an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks