Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Treat Your Kids Like Dogs

Well, not really.  If you are a psychopath, don't read that heading literally.

For all of you relatively healthy breeders out there, though, this is kind of true, isn't it?  If you've been to my house, you know I'm a big fan of sticker charts and signs and suggestions for my kids (and for me, especially seeing as Nolie can't read yet).  Sometimes these schemes work, and sometimes they don't.  We started a sticker chart for Nolie to try to get her to try new foods:  no dice.  The make-it-yourself-nights work much better (last night:  make-your-own-Japanese noodles).  She's actually eating some vegetables now.

But sometimes the charts do work.  I don't want to jinx anything, but I don't think it's too premature to say that we may have solved our sleeping problem with Nolie.  Remember how she was getting up at night, several times a night?  And how we were having trouble getting her to fall asleep?  Well, we are now up to about an 80% success rate on both items, and I will stop badgering all of you for advice.  Here's how we did it:

1)  We got the fine folks at Nolie's preschool to stop letting her nap at school.  The girl won't nap for anything when she's home, usually, but apparently at school, come naptime, she collapses like a sack of bricks and can't be roused.  We've asked them to wake her after a half-hour, and this seems to help with the night-time going to bed.

2)  Uh, I may have been reading the girls Harry Potter aloud before bed for a while there.  What was I thinking?  Nolie is four, for God's sake.  Addie loved it, but it was just too scary for Nolie.  So we're still reading a chapter book together before bed, but then Addie goes off to her room to read Harry Potter and Nolie and I listen to a few songs.

3)  Most of all, though, most of all, is this:

That's right.  It's one of those over-priced dry-erase calendars you can buy from Office Depot (and yes, it would have been pretty easy to make one at home, but sometimes a gal only has so many hours in the day, and anyway, it ended up being the best $20 we've spent in a long time).

See the N/A markings on there?  No, it doesn't mean "not applicable."  They are initials for Addie and Nolie.  Whenever one or the other sleeps through the night without coming out of her room, she gets an initial on the calendar the following morning.  Once she has built up five initials, she gets this:

A ticket to watch a tv show (or, on the reverse, to play on the computer).  Just a half-hour, and they can watch it when they wish, other than in the morning before school or right before bed.  We put this up last week, and each has already earned a ticket, plus has two initials going.  That was an immediate, noticeable, and sustained change, people.  And it means we are much happier because we also our sleeping through the night.  Except for when our pea-sized bladders wake us.  But that's for another post.

I should also note that neither kid has spent her ticket yet, which amazes me.  I thought they'd blow them right away.  But, nope.  They're used to not watching tv after school now, and so I imagine they will spend them this weekend.  

This may not work with your kid--their motivations are so different depending on their personalities.  But I'm so relieved and happy this worked for us.  

Ima go take a nap.

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