Problems getting your child to sleep on their own?
If there is one consistent complaint among all parents, it has to be around their child’s sleep. There are many variations of the problem; child won’t sleep in their own bed, child won’t sleep through the night, child won’t go to bed. Whatever the reason, it is problematic enough that there is a book called ‘Go the f*** to sleep’.
Strap on your boots everyone, because I am going to be honest here… I am a BCBA and I let my child sleep in my bed… for WAY too long.
It started so innocently. I had this screaming, colicky baby who wouldn’t sleep and it was so easy to just put him beside me. I blinked and then he was 3 years old, and he was still beside me and didn’t want to leave. To top it all off, I had to lay beside him until he was asleep. I didn’t watch TV for years!
I tried everything I knew. I made a visual schedule to establish a bedtime routine, I put up a sticker chart to reinforce going to sleep by himself and one for staying in his own bed all night long. We went to the store and bought a bin of reinforcers. Nothing worked, because sleeping with Mom was more reinforcing than any of the toys from the store.
There is surprisingly limited behavioral content on this subject matter. When I did a search in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, I found 187 articles. For such a widespread problem, this is not a lot.
Finally, I took a deep breath and put my behavior analyst hat on. There were some key things that I was missing:
- Determine the function
- Implement an intervention
- Be consistent
As always, we need to determine the function of the behavior before beginning an intervention. You can read more about determining the function of the behavior before beginning an intervention in this white paper, Assessing and Treating Challenging Behavior During Bedtime Routine by Charlene Gervais, M.ADS, BCBA, Clinical Director with The Portia Learning Centre. Read the completed white paper here.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide any type of professional advice. Portia does not guaranty the accuracy or reliability of any information contained in this blog from third party sources. You should consult a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or other qualified professional for specific advice. Portia International assumes no responsibility for any reliance made on or misuse or omissions of the information contained in this blog.