Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version

November 2000


Published in Child & Family Behavior Therapy, Vol. 22(1) 2000. Copyright 2000 by The Haworth Press, Inc. Used by permission.


Child bedtime problems are commonly reported by parents. A number of behavioral techniques, including extinction of tantrum behaviors, reinforcement of compliant bedtime, and implementation of consistent bedtime routines have been successful in improving bedtime compliance. The present study examined the effects of the "Mystery Motivator" (MM), a behavioral contract designed to remediate bedtime problems by delivering random reinforcement. Emphasis was placed on the optimal use of clinical intervention by enlisting parents as primary change agents in the home setting. Three adults and their four children, aged 3-5 years, participated. Three of the four children showed substantial changes in both time out of bed and bedtime noncompliance between baseline and treatment phases. A fourth child showed less improvement. Parent participants demonstrated understanding of the materials and successfully implemented the home program. Both parent and child participants rated the Mystery Motivator reinforcement system as an acceptable intervention.