Monday, March 9, 2009

Taking back the night (one pony at a time)

Peanut has always been a fantastic sleeper, something for which her father and I are tremendously grateful. If we were the type, we would get down on our knees every night and thank the dear lord that of all the early parenting experiences we could have had, bad sleep has typically not been one of them.

However, we've started noticing a problem in the last little while. Particularly after an illness or some other disruption, Peanut will start waking up in the night, almost purposefully, to get us to come in to her room. The disruption itself never lasts very long, and all we have to do is go in and turn her music box on and put her blanket over her again, and she goes back to sleep, but after years of her being very efficient at putting herself back to sleep (we're talking 30 seconds of crying max before she grabs her bunny and drifts off) we're finding this regression a wee bit trying because we know that the waking up has very little to do with the needing of comfort and everything to do with the habitualness of it. (I should make it clear here that we are not talking a dirty diaper, night terror or other waking that most definitely requires comforting. We're talking the waking up, whingey half-cry that toddlers do just to get you to move. Entirely different than true nighttime neediness.)

So, we've instituted a plan here. If Peanut sleeps throught he night she gets one pony sticker (yes, those ponies.. my daughter is nothing if not a true girly girl... but that's a whole other post) to put on her chart. After three stickers she gets one of these:

(Cheap parent that I am, I picked up a couple of boxes of these on clearance and I totally opened the package so she can earn ONE of these at a time.) She's done really well so far, earning herself the first pony after the first night to get the ball rolling, and subsequently earning herself two more stitckers (although she missed one last night). She actively talks about earning her "poh-ee sticker, POH-EE STICKER!", and couple of times she woke up over the last few nights you could hear her grumbling to herself before settling down again.

Thus far our first foray into the bribery reward system appears to be working swimmingly - indeed, its been even better than we could have anticipated. What about you? Do you use rewards to influence behaviour? Have I succumbed to the dark side of parenting? If so, it seems to be nice and cozy over here - with a lot more sleep.


11 comments:

Alison said...

Just wait until you have to start bri... rewarding her to use the toilet...

We haven't succumbed yet over here, but am sure this is mainly because it wouldn't work. We're not really there, cognitively, just yet.

Mamalooper said...

I've unfortunately gotten used to the "up once a night" for something inconsequential. Must try the reward/motivation as I WOULD love a full night's sleep uninterrupted.

My fave reason from this past week for the middle of the night "Mama" is "my lips are dry". :-)

Bea said...

Bub has never been very motivated by rewards, but we've got a regular routine of rewards for Pie: a mini "May West" (Joe Louis-type chocolate cake treat) after supper when she gets through the day with no accidents, and a Hershey's kiss on the way to day-care if she stays in bed all night.

I think rewards depend on and foster a certain kind of emotional maturity: an ability to think long-term, to weigh the desire of the moment against a later pay-off. I'm always impressed when they actually work.

SciFi Dad said...

Wow... three? We had a similar sticker system, but she had to hit 10, and then 30 before she got anything. We found the reward itself wasn't as effective as the anticipation.

b*babbler said...

Ah, see, we’ve started with three since this is our first attempt at a chart system. Also, she’s just over two, so the memory? It’s not so great yet (think gerbil-like proportions). Right now we’re definitely all about the reward, and the anticipation part of it is just starting to kick in.

Our plan is to up it to 5 stickers after the first successful round, then see if we can go to 10 and so on…

crazymumma said...

I want me a pony sticker. No, more than that I want to sit in someones lap and comb the hair of one of those ponies. They are splendiferous!

What the fuck is sleep anyhow?

Elder come sin at 3, younger at four and the goddamn dog snores.

Mac and Cheese said...

I've spent a sheep-load of money at the Disney store for potty training rewards. I've downgraded to Ikea toys 'cause they are waaaaaaay cheeper. You seem to have a good system there though.

Lisa b said...

Oh yeah. I am full on into the bribes for sleep.
Our success is spotty but I am desperate.
Last week I put up a gate on her door.
I am not sure where the depths of desperation will take me.

WELCOME BACK. I;ve missed you!

No Mother Earth said...

I have been known to use bribes, yes. (Read: often). Especially when Little G was 4 months old and Mr Earth was doing a show. Big C decided he wouldn't go to bed (I had to put both of them to sleep at the same time and breastfeed Little G). Absolutely used bribes.

kgirl said...

Glad it's working. We never have success in those areas, but it could be becaue I always assume that every waking entails a need for comfort, and I can't not give it.

kittenpie said...

We haven't had this problem to solve with rewards, with us it's the bedtime behaviour. We introduced an element od watching 5 minutes of sports with her dad to her bedtime routine specifically so that we could take it away if shw was uncooperative. I didn't want to remove storytime, ever, so.

 

BLITHELY BABBLING © 2008. Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness