It is important to consider the child's age when developing a strategy, as the focus will be different at each stage of development. For example, teenagers have more social concerns and are likely worried about what their friends will think. A realistic discussion about the costs and benefits of CPAP may be helpful. On the other hand, younger children often have difficulty keeping the mask on. No matter what your child's age, CPAP can feel strange at first, so a gradual approach is best.
Allow your child to investigate his/her CPAP machine with you present. Reassure him/her that although it makes noise, it is still safe. Focus on the benefits that your child may notice, such as having more energy at school or being able to get up earlier to play on weekends.
Once your child has adjusted to the idea, it's time to actually use the machine. This can be a little tricky and may take a few days, depending on your child's comfort level and age. First you may want to have the child put the mask on for a few minutes, then a little bit longer without the pressure turned on. Then you may want to put the mask on your child with the air on just for a few seconds, then a minute, then a few minutes, etc. It is crucial to reinforce each of these steps with praise and even with a small treat. The best reinforcements are things that can be given immediately and that the child likes. For example, 10 minutes of computer time or playing a game with a parent.
Find a sleep professional who specializes in pediatric sleep is ideal, but they are not everywhere. Look for a doctor who is board certified in sleep medicine at the minimum. If you suspect your child has a behavioral sleep problem such as difficulty falling asleep or frequent night wakings, look for a psychologist who specializes in sleep or in cognitive