Though my daughter, M, may be three years old, she needs a lengthy daily nap. Until recently she was sleeping for a solid 3-4 hours in the afternoon and needing every minute.
Recently we noticed that she doesn't seem to need quite as much sleep, which is fine (and normal). We're putting her down for her nap a bit later. Sometimes she still tells us she isn't tired (and she is). Here is where my magic timer comes in handy.
M is already familiar with how timers are used in the kitchen. However, they become MOM'S BEST FRIEND, and quite magical, for nap time!
When M tells me she wants to come downstairs or isn't tired, I explain to her that I will come and get her when the timer rings. This also works if she wakes up two hours early (or never really went to sleep). I was amazed at how quickly she understood this concept...and she does not complain one bit! This has been effective right at the beginning of nap time (after the fight getting her to the bedroom) and mid-nap.
This also works when it is 6 a.m. and not time for me to be out of bed yet, but my little girl is wide awake.
Now I don't actually set a timer, but every day Derek or I go to her room to wake her up at 5 o'clock. If she happens to wake up a few minutes before, we do get her up, but most days she sleeps until right about five. Am I deceiving my daughter? A bit. She thinks I go down to the kitchen and turn on the timer. But is there a timer? Yes, but it is just a clock on the wall. So it is a bit magical. Derek and I are okay with that.
Just the other day, Derek reminded M that it wasn't time yet. He was amazed at how she immediately put her head on her pillow (and not because she is the ever-obedient child, trust me).
How do you use timers with your children? I'd love to hear!
Edited: Please be sure to read the comments below, especially Sharon's. She speaks about children needing to obey the parent, not the timer. I hadn't thought of it before, but by choosing your words carefully, they will be obeying you.