Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm counting to three....

Guess what is an incredibly fun activity for you and your youngster to enjoy together? It's called TIME OUT.

Well, at least it is an activity even if "incredibly fun" is misleading.

We, being so fresh and new to parenting, thought all we read and heard instilled in us a good line on how to implement and execute Time Out. The good news is we were primarily on the right course. And with a few tweaks, I thought we would have total cooperation. Again, only a fresh and new parent of a toddler would think such foolish things.

We started doing Time Out about six months ago.

While our son quickly absorbed the concept, he decided he didn't actually want to participate. As in, no thanks, I would rather not sit on the stair. Short of holding him down, which produces a joyful noise you can imagine, I wasn't sure what to do. I have assisted him by the arm, and his face looked quite similar to the face of this cub.

Oh yes, I know the imperative role of consistency. I could have simply opted to escort him back to the stair....100 times if necessary. But I wanted an easier and smoother route to his understanding. Oh, and that joyful noise I mentioned? Just wrap your arms around a wild, injured animal next time you are in the woods. Go ahead. Get in close and cuddle. That sound is one you can "block out" only after you hear it for ten straight minutes.

As you can guess, this seemed inefficient for everyone involved.

I was talking to another Doctor at work, and she recommended a book called 1-2-3 Magic. We tried it and Booo Ya. Success. The book gave us some great tips, and as any parent knows, your child will either be an instant conformist, OR the opposite.

Our little man has always been an Angel Baby. He was scheduled from about week one (scheduled within the confines of normalcy and not neurosis that is). And he was an adapter. He was sleeping through the night at nine weeks. Yes, its true. Even then, he was easy breezy.

Toddler time has proven to be the same interesting time for us that it is for anyone else who has ever had a two or three year old expert now living in their house who loves to tell you "I WILL DO IT MYSELF". The pursuit of independence and liberty? I know it well.

But Time Outs are necessary for us. We utilize one of our staircases, and our son has to sit on the bottom step. Initially, he played along very nicely with the theories of 1-2-3 Magic. Testing the boundaries was sporadic. We were at some friends and JohnnyMac dropped the counting on our little man. When he got to three our son looked at him and said, "Where's the stairs Daddy? No time out if there's no stairs!" Wrong. But I respect your rationale.

And so he played a trick on me. He was an instant conformist and now quite frequently, he is in staunch (and vocal) opposition.

One day, it was like baby wrestling. Me, encouraging him to stay in time out (with no emotion. And no talking. Per the book). And he was trying to go pound for pound with me. Umm, kiddo, you won't succeed there. Then he screamed NO MOMMY about thirty times. This tactic failed. He changed course and said, "I JUST WANT TO HOLD YOU!!!!!!!!" You are clever, little bird.

And one day, I was reflecting on where we got off the path of "WOW. WHAT LUCK!! Time outs work beautifully!" and I saw a women we know who has a son a six months older than ours and also a brand new baby. I asked her how things were going and she said if she knew what their older child was going to be like at this age, she would never had another baby. Except, now she has one she likes (said with a tired grin) when she realizes how much the other one drives her crazy. Oh, it takes a lot to be an honest Mom. And I appreciated it. And it made me realize, we are no where near that stage with our son. I can be more patient. Hence he turns into a toddler we want to leave at Grammy's house all summer.

And while he still might not want to do it (and likely never will), we have also achieved the "magical" plateau where simply getting to "2" often helps him modify his behavior.

However, let's be candid. On the occasions in which he declines the invitation to stop whatever it is we want him to stop doing, he might also occasionally opt to treat Time Out like a battle of wills. (I am groomed and bred on this game, just you wait little one. ) Once on the step if he is disinclined to sit their on his own accord, we simply sit him on our laps. This gets very fun, very fast.

And when he has had enough, he shouts at the top of his tiny lungs NO MOMMY NO MOMMY NO MOMMY NO MOMMY. It is ever so pleasant. The art of 1-2-3 Magic is that the parent refrains from the nonstop chatter that goes hand in hand with discipline. And, you are encouraged to be completely emotionless when your child is in Time Out. No back rubbing, no scolding, no talking period. This is a skosh easier when your child is not screaming, and then trying to buck away from you like a wild donkey. Let's hope those instances are few and far between. (Older, wiser parents feel free to laugh now.)

Now, Time Out works on everyone. Daddy did something we are not letting our son do, so Daddy (proving a great point) went to Time Out. Our son felt sad for Daddy so he ran right over. I thought it was great until JohnnyMac gave me the " long do I have to sit here?" Sorry! But it was working and I haven't heard pure silence in the house when we are all home together and awake in, well, over two years. And if I can get that, well, I will volunteer to go to Time Out.

And for any one who has a precocious toddler in the house, you know we can all use a little 1-2-3 Magic.


Buckeroomama said...

We do the 1-2-3 thing, too and it's worked so far with both. It's working so well, that my 4-year old now gives me the 1-2-3 warning, too, when he wants me to do something! *Rolls eyes!*

MJenks said...

You want some real fun? Throw a second one into the mix. Yeah, they'll behave for a while, but then when walking starts, pretty much everything goes down the drain fast to the point where duct tape and chains seems like the only solution.

annechovie said...

Funny! I don't have any kids yet, but I have heard about that book. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Jodee said...

I can completely relate to this post! We use our stairs for our time outs too. We also make time outs very boring and don't talk during them either. We set the timer and that's it!

Jenn @ youknow... that blog? said...

Wait until counting doesn't work anymore... my teen just rolls her eyes and laughs at me now. ;)

My 4 year old has been raised on "the count", and we use it for everything. The terrible threes (even though it wasn't all that bad) trained us all very well. I do NOT get to 5, ever. In fact, if she knows she won't make it by 5, she bursts into tears! I think it's pretty funny, given that most of the time now it's a game, and not an ultimatum. She's a sensitive kid though.

You just have to step back and realize that this stage of the game will pass in the blink of an eye (trust me), and you'll have lots of advice for the next batch of new parents!

Thanks for stopping by my place today Jenny! Hope you can make it next week in time for the next Silly Haiku Wednesday ;)

Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

Oh girl...I totally feel your pain! My girls are 19 months and 3 1/2, and my boys are 9 and 10. THere is never a silent moment in this house. Bedtime is a GOOD time!

I have never tried the 1-2-3 Magic, but I recently just started a new series of books that I think are amazing. Seriously, they work. They are celled Parenting Through Love and Logic by Jim and Charles Fay. My sister told me about them and I laughed at some of the tactics. Then I saw them in action and I was impressed!

Good Luck

Sandy said...

And I thought having a 5 month old was hard. Hahahahahahahahaha! Ok, I'll have to check out those books and theories and read up. Right after I figure out a solution to our sleeping problems.

Leslie said...

You're bringing back memories. Good old time-outs. They worked for my son, but my daughter was a tough nut to crack. (She still is... and she's 25!)

Sweet Serendipity said...

We've had some success with time outs and the 123 tips are great ones, but holding my kids if they refused a time out has never worked out well. I think temperament/personality has a great deal to do with it.
My daughter is pretty easy. While she can be quite a sassy lass (at 4) if you let her know you mean business she complies pretty quickly. My oldest son, on the other hand (now 7), has always been a handful. I remember him laughing at me trying to discipline him as a toddler! He has always been one to challenge everything. He is way too smart for his own good (or mine! LOL). The best solution I have ever found with him is to ignore him completely, no matter what he throws at me (sometimes literally throws). If ignored, he eventually breaks down and calms down. If I engage him at all he escalates and things get ugly quickly. He is very smart and very sensitive...sometimes a quite difficult combination to handle.

Good luck, and remember when you think you can't stand any more, that's about the time they change to a new phase and you have a whole new set of challenges to tackle ;P Parenting is never a dull proposition!

Theresa said...

Boy how I loved that age. Sorta. I had twice the fun when the twins came along. Sorta hard to battle two willful beings.

Now, I would trade the teenaged years for those wonderful 2's and 3's without a second thought.

Lee said...

I am seriously laughing my ass off! I have a 5 year old, and let me just tell you does NOT get any easier! It is amazing to me constantly that he knows more than me according to him and he is always right. When he is sent to his room, doors slam and open and slam and open about 50 times. The with the bouncing on the bed, I am sure he will come through the ceiling. And, when I go up to his room, he crawls under the bed! gotta love them!

MammaDucky said...

We count to 5. I'm fairly certain it takes the first 3 numbers just to be heard. The second two are the ones they hear and act upon. One twin will smack the other and upon the smacker going into time out the smackee runs to her aide and yells "Mommy, don't yell at my sister!" WHAT?!! Now, if little brother does it? Game on. He can LIVE in time out for all they care. Good times.