Be reasonable: Make specific, reachable goals that your children can achieve. If you’ve got into a bad habit with your child, give them the goal of only waking up once in a night to earn a visit from the Sleep Fairy. The key is to make the story fit your family and what you want to happen.
Give clear instructions: Tell your child exactly what they have to do to get a visit. “When I say goodnight, you must stay in your bed and not call out.”
Start by rewarding every night: You need your child’s behaviour to change if you’re ever going to sleep again so reward them every night for up to 30-days to change your child’s pattern. Then gently move to lots of praise or a sticker chart making it harder to get rewards for sleeping, but by then the new habit will have been established.
Move to a more intermittent or random reward system once you see the behaviour established, tell your children the Sleep Fairy must help other children who have sleep problems. The Sleep Fairy will still visit once in awhile (randomly). Or if your child likes patterns and routines then tell them the Sleep Fairy will visit them every Friday night from time to time.
Finally, let this system come to an end once the behaviour you want to see is established. Once you get your regular hours of sleep. It’s time for the Sleep Fairy to focus on other children in need. Help your kids to write a letter saying thank you for visiting and helping them and to say goodbye. Let your kids know that the Sleep Fairy must go and help other children who need her now.
Children go through stages, don’t they?
Some stages and upsets bring back old sleep habits and before you know it you’ve moved backwards again. So take this opportunity to call the Sleep Fairy back. Then start every night for a week, going to intermittent for a week and then say goodbye again.
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About the author
Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.
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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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