It is one of the great mysteries of parenting — how to convince an energetic, rebellious, demanding preschooler to take a nap. This is a daily challenge in our home, as our son prefers to live life on his terms, no matter how exhausted he is.

It's obvious that children around 3 or 4 years of age still benefit from a nap. Just ask any parent who's had to deal with an overtired preschooler around 5 o'clock in the evening. The problem is they aren't confined to a crib, usually have a roomful of toys to play with, and can stay up if they want to instead of getting a restful hour or two of sleep in the middle of the day.

Here are a few tricks to encourage your preschooler to take a nap, even though those napping days may be on the way out.

1. Maintain a Schedule

The best thing that you can do is make nap time or quiet time a priority every day. If the time is built into the day then your child will expect it and come to rely on it as part of her everyday routine. Fill the morning with activities, have lunch around the same time each day, and remind your daughter that nap time follows. If she's in school for part of the day, make sure that when she comes home there is a portion of the day that is expected as quiet time.

2. Build a Routine

Once your daughter is ready for nap time, create a fun but relaxing routine to get her in the mood to sleep. Turn on some soothing music, have her pick out a few books, and get cozy in bed. Read her a few stories, chat about the morning, or anything else that comes up and help her get comfy enough to sleep.

3. Tire Them Out

If your children are home with you, try to tire them out in the morning. A nearly foolproof option is to get them in the pool or take them to a park for an hour or so. If they run around and expend large amounts of energy, the chances increase that your daughter will want to curl up and grab some shut eye during the afternoon.

4. Full Belly

There's a reason why people pass out on the couch after a meal. Make sure that your child is eating a full and healthy lunch prior to nap time. Again, it may not work every time, but it may increase the likelihood that your child will give in and rest.

5. Talk About It

We like to tell our son that a car needs gas to run and that he needs rest to drive his engine, too. There were days where he listened and followed our advice. Many more, though, where he didn't. Examples like that can help a child understand why you are asking her to take a nap or at least lay down in quiet time. Also, this is similar to what they do in preschool or day care so it should be a natural evolution for them. Also, let them know that this is Mommy's quiet time, too, and she deserves it!

6. Reward Chart

Another option is to create a reward chart where your child gets a sticker for every day that they take a nap or at least stay in their rooms for quiet time. Allow them to redeem the stickers for a small toy or fun activity. This also might encourage them to follow your directions and give a nap a chance.