How many times have we discussed the wily and inappropriate behavior of the toddler set already here on KT? Probably not enough. Or maybe I just haven’t gotten enough words of wisdom from those of you who have been there, done that, but in the daily struggle to show who’s the boss chez moi, the only thing I know for certain on any given day is that, well, it’s not my darling husband. Whether it’s me or DD, just depends on the day.
I always wondered when I would know my child was ready for time-outs. How would I know she’s old enough to understand? How would I know when the behavior was egregious enough to warrant a time out, I worried?
Fret not, is the answer, when the time comes, it is abundantly clear. A few weeks ago, my DD spontaneously landed in time-out. I certainly didn’t wake up that day knowing that it was the day, and I certainly didn’t come home from work, anticipating this would be the outcome, but well, it was. A word of caution – if you haven’t yet instituted a time-out in your house – you might plan ahead and know WHERE the time-out chair is before you cast your child off to a time-out.
Otherwise you’ll be like me – all brooding and serious and Ms. Disciplinarian, secretly thinking “Shit, where the hell am I going to put her?”
Though a split second decision, the bottom stair in our hallway seemed just as good a place as any to me. I’ve seen enough Super Nanny episodes to know the time-outs can’t take place in an interesting spot. So really, what’s interesting about a boring empty hallway?
A few weeks have passed and DD has only landed in time-out a handful of times. I don’t believe in abusing this disciplinarian tactic. I figured, less is more and she’ll come to realize that when she’s there, it’s for a very real and serious reason.
Frankly, what she quickly surmised is that to cry and say in her sweetest voice “I’m sorry mommy” as she hugs me, is one way to get off the bottom stair pretty quickly.
All is not lost, though, because until Saturday night, the time-outs were abruptly stopping the offensive behavior. After one time in time-out, that particular behavior – hasn’t resurfaced since. Of course, variations of it have taken shape and well, for the enterprising young toddler, there’s always some other trouble rounding the corner, so it’s not like my work here is any where near done. A toddler is to trouble what Angie Jolie is to babies….apparently there is never enough…..
What I didn’t expect was how quickly, after just a few times using this technique, my daughter would mock it. Recall – she’s just 2.5 years old in a month.
Saturday night she found herself in time-out before her bath. I’d been going back and forth in my mind over handling the bad behavior right around bath time. I know she’s acting out because she’s tired and just wants to go to bed, so I’d been trying to manage it as best I could without letting the situation escalate to a time-out. By Saturday night, I concluded that swift action, no matter how tired said child might be, was the only way to nip the pre-bath tantrums.
So off to our time-out spot on the bottom stair we went.
And you know what happened?
She gave me a long, cold, hard stare, walked up two more stairs, and put her back to me, then turned around and smirked at me – like “You put me in time-out? Is that really the best you can do? Because I raise you one time-out with two stairs and mocking you!”
Again. She’s barely 2.5 years old.
What in the world is coming my way in the future?
So kind of like that spontaneous moment a few weeks ago when I declared time-out for the first time and then wondered where in the hell I was going to put her, this time I found myself wondering – well what the hell am I going to do now that she’s mocking her punishment? Clearly this one isn’t working.
The outcome was this – no stories and music before bed time – just bed time. It felt awful to end the day with her like that, crying her eyes out in her crib, apologizing, but what is a gal to do? It seems that we’ve reached the point where taking away something that she enjoys is the real way to punish her. Though now I have a greater appreciation that our parents might actually have meant it when they used to tell us that the punishment hurt them more than us.
I did assure her that I love her and if she’s good the next night during bath time, then we will read stories together again.
For those of you at the edge of your seat, she was good last night and we revitalized story time.
The question is – what’s next? Is it too early in parenthood for me to be running out of tricks and being outwitted by my child? I think so….