Then we had enough. After brainstorming and talking with friends, we came up with a plan that worked like a charm. Tonight was the forth night in a row that each kid went to bed without coming out of her room once.
Since it was so successful, I thought I'd share. Maybe one of you might need it as much as we did.
- Each child is given a heart at bedtime. This heart is her "pass" to come out of her room. Bathroom trips are allowed, as long as they go back to bed quietly. And obviously mid-night nightmares or illness get cuddles from mommy without losing heart.
- Since she only gets one, she is only allowed to come out once.
- The first time she comes out, we collect the heart
- If she comes out a second time, she loses a privilege the next day
- If she comes out a third time, we will actively ignore her (pick her up, carry her to bed without saying a word - and no eye contact - yikes).
- Here's the catch - if she doesn't use the heart, she gets to keep it. When she gets 10 hearts, she gets a prize!
Here's why I think it works:
1. Instead of having to earn something, they start out with it in their hot little hands. It's harder to give something up than to not get something that you haven't had. It also puts the control in her hands. Does that make sense?
2. Since we sat them down and explained details, we were all very clear about the expectations (including me). This gave my husband and I confidence that we were on the same team and we knew what to do. I think they could sense our confidence too.
Note: I reused these cute little hearts that were used last year in our "love garden" (another behavioral enticement that worked well). They are just wooden sticks with wooden hearts, painted and glittered.