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I have often talked about our preschooler’s sleep issues. In fact, I’ve been talking about them for over a year. I know this because it was one year ago that he had a sleep study because we were so concerned about him. It was a horrible experience – particularly since he has Sensory Processing Disorder. It did eventually lead to a diagnosis of enlarged adenoids MONTHS later. He had his adenoids removed, which has definitely improved the health problems associated with his sleep (the snoring and blocked airways).
There was still one problem, though – he was now in such a horrible sleep pattern. If any little thing would wake him up he would still come right in our room and get in our bed. Although the waking occurrences were less due to his no longer having breathing problems during his sleep, it was still a habit we needed to break.
I was really excited to try SleepBuddy. SleepBuddy is a complete sleep system that helps kids get into better sleep habits by helping them learn when they should stay in bed and when it is OK to get up. It does this in a fun and rewarding way! Plus it is a concept that is easy to understand. It can be used with children as young as age 1 1/2.
When the SleepBuddy arrives, it arrives in gift wrapping with a bow. This helps build up excitement and go along with the story that is included in the package.
The story in the package talks all about how the SleepBuddy works from a young child’s perspective. It’s an extra bedtime story treat because it’s a nice bedtime story that also helps to simply explain how the SleepBuddy works and builds excitement over the fact that they now have one, too. Chaz wanted nothing to do with SleepBuddy at first. I mentioned the word “sleep,” and he instantly yelled “no!” I was afraid we’d be in for an exhausting battle. Although he was a little reluctant to hear the story at first, he did sit down with us because our older two kids sat down to listen to help encourage him. After the story was over he asked if that was his SleepBuddy. He actually WANTED his SleepBuddy! I have to admit, I didn’t expect this, so I was pleasantly surprised!
Also with the SleepBuddy is a Reward Chart with Smiley Face stickers. The SleepBuddy is a simple to use reward based system. It is a light that is set on a timer. The concept is easy – when the light is blue that means it is not time to get out of bed, but when it is off it is OK to get out of bed. Of course, with anything, it is a process. If they stay in bed until the light is off they receive a sticker on their chart. The only snag we had is Chaz doesn’t like rewards – at all. I know it’s kind of bizarre, but he just doesn’t. It did NOT mean we couldn’t effectively use the SleepBuddy system, though.
We have been using the SleepBuddy now for about 7 weeks. The first 2-3 weeks were the “adjustment period.” I knew it would take some time because he had developed such poor sleep habits. I discovered the SleepBuddy could be more effective than just helping him know it’s time to stay in bed – it also helps to tell him when it’s time to GO to bed. He tends to play even after his siblings have fallen asleep. So we set the SleepBuddy to turn on at a specific time to remind him it’s no longer time to play but time to go to sleep. This has been a very helpful feature!
The SleepBuddy is also programmed to work during naps, but since Chaz no longer takes naps I simply turn it off during the day to prevent confusion. One day I did forget, and the kids ran to me asking why it was on! haha Oops!
After the initial adjustment period, Chaz really started getting into a better sleep rhythm. He was going to bed when his SleepBuddy turned on, and he was staying in his bed until it was off. He still has a couple of nights here and there, but that is SO much better than almost every night! Of course, with our recent move we really needed something consistent that we could rely on to help keep him (and even our older children) on a schedule. It’s even more important because he and our oldest son will now be sharing a room. Our oldest son has a wonderful sleep schedule, and he definitely isn’t too happy about the idea of sharing a room, so the SleepBuddy has also helped to make the transition easier. We still haven’t found all the parts to put his bed together, and that can really cause a child to be off kilter with their sleep, so I’m grateful I thought to keep the SleepBuddy with us instead of having them pack it so we would always have it ready! What a help it has been?
So How Do you Reward a Child that Doesn’t Like Rewards?
It may be a hard concept to understand, but due to his special needs he doesn’t like the kind of attention that rewards bring, and he particularly doesn’t like stickers for some reason. He is very attentive to details, though. Doing what he knows he is supposed to do IS his reward. I ask him if he stayed in his bed until his SleepBuddy was off, and he is so proud to say yes! I do say “Awesome!” or something to that effect in a not too enthusiastic tone, and then I personally kept track of the days that he stayed in his bed using the provided chart. For every 7 days he stayed in his bed, I would tell him I noticed he stayed in his bed that many days and asked him if he would like something special. He usually chooses a special treat like ice cream. 🙂
I think SleepBuddy is such a wonderful concept, and it continues to help our preschooler (and us!) sleep better. I only wish I had known about it sooner!