No More Sleeping Problems For Your Child

No More Sleeping Problems For Your Child
All parents, at some point, have suffered the effects of sleep deprivation caused by their children not sleeping well.

The feelings of being disorientated, confused and low from lack of sleep don't go away on their own, but a return to a good night's sleep does wonders. That's where the sleep fairy comes in.

Parenting expert and author Sue Atkins came up with the idea of the Sleep Fairy to help her own children and now uses the technique to help the parents who come to her for advice. She says: 'I used to love the Tooth Fairy and other magical things when I was a child and after a spell of sleepless nights with my two children I thought of the Sleep Fairy. The Sleep Fairy pops into a child's bedroom at night sprinkling her fairy dust and waving her magic wand full of deep sleep and magical dreams,'

Children are intrigued and curious to find out more so Sue advises parents to develop the concept further. 'The Sleep Fairy helps little children to sleep all the way through the night. When the child sleeps ALL night without calling out, fussing, or climbing into Mummy's bed during the night, they receive a special treat from her under their pillow in the morning - just like when the Tooth Fairy visits.'

Sue suggests reading your child a calming story, tucking them in, and saying: 'Unless you have hurt yourself then you don't need me. It's time for falling asleep.' She says that it is a good idea to maybe put on their favourite quiet music or story CD then kiss them good night. Sue used to leave small, inexpensive, treats for her children, such as a little toy or coloured pencils. On the mornings when her little ones did not make it through the night, the Sleep Fairy didn't come.

These are Sue's six simple steps to successful sleep.

1. 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.

2. 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."

3. Start by rewarding every night - You need your child's behaviour to change if you're going to have a good night's sleep again so reward them every time for up to 30-days to change their 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.

4. 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 a while (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.

5. Finally, let this system come to an end - once you get your regular hours of sleep help your child to write a letter saying thank you for visiting and helping them, and to say goodbye. Let your child know that the Sleep Fairy must go and help others.

6. 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, bring the Sleep Fairy back. Then move back to every night for a week, going to intermittent for a week and then say goodbye again.

Sue Atkins
October 2009

Sue Atkins is a parent coach and her company is Positive Parents Confident Kids. She is a former Deputy Head with 22 years teaching experience and is an NLP Master Practitioner and Trainer. As well as being a parent coach, Sue is a parent of two teenagers and the author of numerous books, her latest being 'Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the famous black and yellow series. Chapter 13 covers helping your child cope with bigger issues, such as death and dying.

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