Management of Sleep Problems in Preschoolers
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
There is minimal research into behavioural interventions for typically developing preschoolers (2-5 years of age) with sleep problems. Often these children are not considered as a distinct developmental group and are incorporated into sleep intervention studies for infants or school-aged children. Yet preschoolers do differ in their language, social and cognitive abilities. The present study examines an intervention tailored to the developmental abilities of four preschool children with sleep problems. It utilised positive reinforcement in order to create a less restrictive intervention than those based on extinction alone. This was combined with a range of other behavioural strategies such as parental presence, standard and graduated extinction to reduce a variety of sleep problems. Problems targeted included bedtime refusal, co-sleeping, night waking and a possible diagnosis of sleep terrors. Behavioural interventions effectively reduced sleep problems in all four participants. Parental report demonstrated acceptance of strategies implemented and satisfaction in intervention outcomes.