Thursday, October 22, 2009
Time Out and attachment
When Charlie and I first met, she seemed to attach immediately, after a few hours. I couldn't put her down and no one else could hold her. If I left the room, she shrieked in terror.
All understandable for someone who, at 15 days, lost her biological mother. Everything must seem very insecure/impermanent once that happens.
I remember posting about her shrieking and how to discipline her, if say, she was pulling the table cloth off the table, or sticking her finger in the socket (a battle I didn't have the choice to "pick" or "not pick".)
I got lots of great advice and suggestions: distraction, holding, go to her every time she cries, etc. I tried different things. At 9 months, she was too young for the typical time outs, nor were they really needed as her disobedience was easily distracted and not born of willfulness or stubbornness but rather curiosity.
As she has aged (she is now almost 14 months) and gotten way more mobile (she can run and kick a ball at the same time!) some of her naughtiness has definitely taken a more mischievous tone. Now, don't get me wrong, 95% of the time she is an absolute angel, happy, follows direction, communicates well with pointing and some sign language, etc. And many times I allow her to do things that I'm not thrilled about (taking everything out of the cabinets and strewing the pots around the house, many times each day, etc). I do pick my battles because I hate having to say "no" all the time, or take things away from her when she's just trying to explore her world. But there are certain things she likes to do, over and over, which I would REALLY rather she didn't. For her own health. Like put her hands in the toilet bowl and splash and drink the water. I have told her, no joke, 50 to 70 times not to do that.
She still does, only now she tries to sneak in there when I'm busy. I always have my eye on her though, and catch her. I tried a stern voice, removing her, distracting her, closing the bathroom door so she can't get in, etc.
I decided it was time for time out. Let's try and see what happens, I thought.
I've watched my share of Supernanny and so thought I had a good handle on the steps of timeout: warn child that if they don't stop time out is coming, remove child and tell them to sit/stand in the timeout area; set timer; go back to child after timer goes off, kneel to their level and explain again why they are in timeout, ask for an apology, hug.
Well, she did all of it except say "sorry"! (because she can't talk yet). She was awesome! It worked GREAT. I couldn't believe she stayed in time out. She really understands a lot more English than I give her credit for. And that hug at the end was sooo sweet.
I liked this discipline procedure a lot because it kept me calm and even tempered, I don't have to repeat myself more than the first warning, and after the hug we can get on to doing fun things again. It's like the slate is wiped clean.
I don't know what age is usually appropriate to start using time out as a discipline tool, but I guess 14 months is not too young. I also think it helps with attachment, because, contrary to what one might first think, I believe discipline and attachment are closely related. After that hug, we are closer... I have set a limit; she has agreed (at least for the time being) that I'm the limit setter and she is the settee (shows respect); we have done this is a loving, non-angry way; we have hugged; and going to play afterward reinforces that she can be naughty and I will still love her and that forgiveness is alive at our house.
What are your discipline tools and which ones work best for your family?