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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Evolution of the Time-Out

12 months old:

WAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Yup...I heard that a lot.  The Crazies couldn't talk and Hailey was a biter.  She would go after Matt with a vengeance and she didn't mess around.  That poor kid had marks all over his back.  I can only say that I kind of understood where she was coming from.  He was vicious in taking toys away from her and it's all she had...her razor sharp baby teeth.

The time-outs were 60 seconds, on my lap, faced away from the "action."  After 60 seconds, we'd turn the Crazy around, tell them why they had been punished, kisses, hugs, and back to playing.

They'd get an immediate time-out for a physical attack.  If it was minor behaviors (i.e. not listening, continuing a behavior after being told to stop), they'd get a warning and then a time-out if behavior continued.

18 months old:

MOMMY!!!!  Matt...blah...blah...blah...Hailey...blah...blah...blah.

I couldn't really understand what they were saying about the incident.  They mumbled their way through most of their sentence/accusations at this point in their lives.  I wouldn't put a child into time-out unless there was visual evidence (i.e. I witnessed the action) or physical evidence (i.e. hand mark on a cheek or bite marks).

The time-outs graduated to 90 seconds and we started sitting them in a designated spot while they "served their time."  Would they try to escape?  A few times, but in general, they stayed put.  My in-laws were in awe of this.  They couldn't believe that they'd just stay there...truth be told, neither could I.

2 years old:

Mom...Hailey hit me.
Mom...Matt push me.
Mom...
Mom...
Mom...

Welcome to the age of tattling...ain't it grand???

NOPE!

Time-outs graduated to 2 minutes and they started becoming a little more challenging.  The Crazies would refuse to go to time-out.  They would escape and run away.  They were really testing my patience and it drove me nuts.  

I persevered though...I stuck with it.  I would calmly put them back in time-out (however many times it took), restart the timer, and ignore them as much as possible until those 2 minutes were done.  There were time-outs in stores, in the middle of meals, in parking lots, and everywhere else you could think of.  I had to continue to let them know who was the boss in our relationships.

2 and a half:

When am I NOT hearing someone's wrongdoing?  They're constantly giving me little "updates" on the other's behavior...whether I care or not.  I still pretty much stick to not giving a time-out unless there's evidence (oh, sue me...maybe I watch too much SVU...or maybe I think my children are apt to exaggeration...gasp...the horror).

Between 2 and 2.5, I read 1-2-3 Magic.  It changed things and gave me a little more structure to my time-out routine.  We still pretty much stick to the warning, time-out, explanation, apologies, hugs/kisses, but it's much more calm now.

There's a lot more drama with the time-outs lately.  A lot of foot stomping, crying, screaming, pouty lips, sad faces, tears, and histrionics.  It's quite humorous, actually.  

We've had a tad bit of wanting to stay in time-out too.  I'll ask Matt to come talk to me when the timer goes off and he'll refuse.  I'll tell him that if he won't come and talk, then I'd reset the timer and he can do another time-out.  He refuses.  I reset the timer.  He sits for another 2.5 minutes.  The timer will go off AGAIN.  I'll tell him to come "have a chat."  He'll refuse AGAIN.  I'll set the timer AGAIN!  The longest he's gone is 3 time-outs in a row.

The thing is, they "get it" more now.  Since I've been consistent with the consequence, they know what's expected of them.  They know what to expect and aren't surprised when it happens.
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People often say "time-outs just don't work" and I disagree.  I think that people try to use time-outs to stop a behavior, but some behaviors aren't going to stop.

My kids aren't going to stop physically assaulting each other if one takes a toy...that's an innate behavior in my opinion.  Yes, they need to be taught right from wrong, but that will come through conversation at an appropriate time...not when they're yanking each others' hair out!

My kids are going to understand that their behaviors have consequences and that I am going to follow through every single time.  I think that's where some people fall apart.  It's freaking exhausting to keep up with this stuff, but kids have to know there are consequences for their actions...they have to know and if their parents let up just a few times, they're going to turn that inch into a mile really quickly...does last sentence make sense?

Anyway, that's my two cents...I should call this Two Cent Tuesday...wouldn't that be so cute?  Nah?  Okay...I won't.