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?


Michelle said...

YAY! I'm so glad you are using this tool. Time outs are awesome and do indeed show love and mutual respect. All children need limits enforced to feel truly cared for, but they need those limits imposed with thought and care and that's what you've done. If you continue on this path you'll be rewarded. Shane was an awesome kid. I took the time to talk with him (respected him) and he responded with respect. Some people will say that you can't reason with kids. That's only because they've only ever been spoken to like they were incapable of reason. Teach her to think and reason now, don't treat her like she has limited mental abilities and she'll rise to the expectation. Go you!

Anonymous said...

Yay Charlie! I thought you couldn't do time outs until they were around 2. I tried them with Zoe when she was younger, and I couldn't get her to stay in the time out zone. dcuz

M and M said...

I'm going to be a lone voice of dissent here, I suppose. I don't like time outs until much much older (if at all). I believe in 'yes' parenting in as many situations as possible, which means things like moving all the 'no' potentials out of reach and making sure doors are closed and cabinets are locked until about 2, 2.5. I depend on a lot of redirection, a lot of divide and conquer (you can't drink water out of the dog bowl, but you can help me put the laundry in the washing machine sort of thing), and I slow down life a whole whole lot to do a lot of inclusive parenting (allowing LeLe to help me do many things that would take 1/5 as much time otherwise). I think encouraging participation and parallel play is critical. I do set limits (he can't crawl into the shower fully dressed in the morning or play in the toilet), but I don't give my son time outs. He's 20 months. I wouldn't even consider a time out as a good way to convey what is important. "No" is enough right now - and is usually accompanied by crying and or demanding to do it anyway. I intervene with encouraging his energy to be put to something else. My two cents. I can admit, too, I've never been a fan of time outs and actually hardly used it at all with my three biggie kids.

Adopting1Soon said...

I actually agree with you, and do the distraction thing every single time she does something unsafe. It's just with the toilet.... I have tried distraction 50 to 70 times at this point, along with all the other suggestions.

I think she just really likes water and can't distinguish between the pot of water I provide her to play with outside, and the toilet.

Don't worry, I'm not throwing her in time out every two seconds :-) I still understand she is very little and mainly exploring her world, which is a great thing. Even if it makes my life "busier". I also let her "help" me, like putting clothes in the dryer (even though most end up on the floor, etc), closing the doors behind us (even though it takes us very long since she likes to open and close them 10 times before closing them fully, etc.

Michelle said...

Ah well, I stand by what I so enthusiastically said. Tiemouts worked really well in conjunction with conversation, with my son. As always, everyone feels they know what's best and what works for one child beautifully won't work for all children.