Posted April 22, 2011 - 8:23am by Jenise Celestin
My two year old is perhaps the sweetest little being I've ever encountered on the planet, but at 3 a.m. when she wakes up from a sound sleep, teeters into our bedroom, and then refuses to go back to sleep, I get a little stressed. First she wants to "sit on couch" or get "two goldfish" (crackers) and when my husband and I do not comply, the full on tantrum begins. In our 3-unit condo at 3 a.m. she is pounding on the walls, kicking the floors, screaming...well you get the idea. Luckily, this doesn't happen every night, but in the four weeks since we've transitioned over to a toddler bed, it's been probably 75% of the time. So, needless to say, I'm looking for answers anywhere I can.
On Tuesday evening, Dr. Katie Hanson joined parents from the local group KickSprout to discuss positive parenting strategies for toddlers and beyond. We met at Zapatista, a nice Mexican restaurant at Clark/Fullerton in Lincoln Park where Emilio's used to be. Selfishly, I couldn't wait to have some time to ask my own question to Dr. Hanson. Guess what? She suggested we try a sticker reward system for Molly. Whenever she sleeps through the night, she is rewarded a sticker. If she wakes up and tantrums, however, a sticker is removed.
IT'S WORKING!! Ok, so it's only been three days, but this is real progress. We talked her through the system and she seems to be getting it. In fact, Wednesday night when she came into the room at 2:30 a.m., I excitedly cautioned her, "No no, hurry and get back in bed so you can get a sticker in the morning." Believe it or not, she rushed back to bed - seemingly for the prize that would await in the morning. Then this morning, she ran over to the sticker poster awaiting her reward (only a tiny sticker today, since she threw a mini-tantrum for Dad last night but restrained herself and went back to sleep pretty quickly). And dare I say she understood why she only got a small sticker - well, only time will tell if she's actually developing a new habit to go to sleep and stay asleep.
Always a new adventure...I hope the other parents learned as much as I did.
You can read more about Dr. Hanson's conversation from the evening in this Well Community article "Positive Parenting Q&A".