We’re having a tough time at bedtime with our girls sharing a room. We have started a 3 part behavior modification program that consists of us giving warnings three times. If they make it through without three warnings they get a reward in the morning. If they receive all three warnings they get a time out in the laundry room. This then spirals down into long stretches of lots of crying and frustration for everyone. It’s been difficult finding an effective method to handle the two girls fighting bedtime.
You need to simplify. I love the behavior modification idea as well as time-out for different situations (I have used and continue to use both), but not for bedtime. You would be better off if you make the discipline measure shorter. Your girls are playing you both because they can count on getting at least 3-4 visits out of you per night. To children your girls’ ages being disciplined is worth a longer bedtime routine and more mommy or daddy time. I would leave out the discipline part and just allow them to cry, especially after you have told them before bedtime that you will not be coming in for crying and screaming.
When our twins were born, our two oldest shared a room and the oldest went through a crazy bedtime phase. Every night was a knock down drag out of screaming and crying and I was exhausted. I was sure she just wanted time with me and she figured this was how she was going to get it. We went through a period of time where I had to sit outside her door every night holding the door closed while she screamed, yelled and kicked the door for an extended period of time each night. Many of those nights she fell asleep at the door with her hand sticking out from under the door. We tried different steps of discipline and finally came to the conclusion that the best thing for our particular situation was to make it short and sweet. We put her to bed with the regular routine, then turned off the light, closed the door and then if she opened the door or came out she would be put back to bed. Then we held the door closed until she fell asleep. We did not go back in there and there was no more discipline…just the discipline of us not going in there and her not being able to come out. I disliked the whole situation, but we decided to stick to our guns and after about a week to 10 days the fits lessened and then stopped all together.
Our second child was in the room and a few times he would start crying as the drama played out, but usually he would just lay in his bed–probably wondering what on earth his sister was doing! We did find that when we didn’t go in, he would fall asleep even though the screaming and crying was going on. It’s really amazing what they are able to sleep through, once you give them the chance to do it. I’d say you don’t need to be too concerned for the one that is not crying, sleep should come anyway even if it takes a few minutes.