Oh yes, it’s all about the sticker charts and rewards in our home at the moment. Eden is the one it was all set up for, of course. We never had the need in the past with Joshua. He just did what he was told and never thought that there was a disobedient option. Yes, we were the smug bright-eyed parents whose baby slept through the night from 6 weeks old and we never looked back. And his general good behaviour and obedience continued from there. Aren’t we just brilliant parents? The answer is no. Well, maybe we are but this isn’t the evidence. Since Eden came along I’ve learnt it’s the child that’s brilliant, not the parents. With Eden, the same ingredients went in, but we got an entirely different result! We thought that if we just applied all the same methods that clearly worked for Joshua, it would be plain sailing with Eden too. Wrong. Over 3 years later, we are the bleary-eyed parents who could count the number of nights Eden ‘slept through’ on one hand. What does sleeping through mean anyway? Until 7am? 6am? Well, when I decided even 5am would do, I knew things had to change.
We were literally on the verge of contacting a sleep counsellor when I decided that after we returned from London last summer and the jet-lag was over we would try one more thing – a reward chart. She was now old enough to understand the concept. I hoped.
Night one – before she went to bed, Dan and I sat her down together and showed her the new reward chart. We showed her the stickers she could choose every morning if she would just stay in her bed until it is light and not come into our room for any reason during the course of the night. If she wanted some water we would now put her cup next to her bed where she could reach it so she didn’t need to call us for help. We told her she can put it back on her own too so didn’t need to call us for that either. The only acceptable reason for waking us up would be if she needed help to go to the toilet, but we didn’t tell her that! She seemed to understand all that which was fine at 6.30pm but would she remember it in the middle of the night when she woke up and defaulted to calling us or just coming in? Turns out she wouldn’t! Not for the first night anyway but the first sticker was awarded by night 2. We were on our way! She’s done exceptionally well, not perfect, but at least we’re getting more and more undisturbed nights sleep. She loves choosing her sticker and counting how many she has and how many more she needs for the next reward. If I knew that all I needed to do was stock up on reward stickers and chocolate lollies I’d have started this much sooner! She even manages to go the loo on her own in the night without disturbing us. She knows not to flush the chain so as to not wake anyone up. What she can’t do is then put on her pull-up and pyjama bottoms again so she tends to then come into my room, dump them on me and wake me up at that stage! It’s hard to get cross with that though.
Of course, Joshua then wanted in on the reward chart system too. So we invented his motivations together. These were mainly homework related. One sticker if he does his homework willingly when I ask him to without generally collapsing to the floor in protest. One sticker for doing his homework with no corrections needed. And one sticker for not bringing his muslin out of his room all day (yes, my 8 year old is still a baby!). He’s also done fantastically. The muslin sticker is almost 100%, the ‘no corrections’ sticker could do with some work but his whole attitude to homework has hugely improved so even though I didn’t think he needed a reward system, turns out we can always find a reason!
And what are Joshua’s rewards? That’s a whole separate blog…….!