Yesterday was the first day I have ever used a time-out for my daughter! That’s how frustrated I was. I always knew the day would come but I thought it wouldn’t happen yet. Although I know some parents who have been using time-outs for a while now (since their children were around 1 year old), most of the parents who I know don’t really use any kind of structured discipline with their toddlers. Needless to say, I never really put any real thought into a “discipline plan” for our household. Not to say that I have never said, “no” to my daughter or asked her to stop doing something. I have…many times! Usually, she stops or I can distract her with something else. But not this day!
Let me backtrack a bit to give you some background info on my little one. For a while now she has been excited about using sign language. We’ve introduced her to sign language through books and videos. (Yes, we do let our daughter watch TV. That’s a whole post topic in itself!) She really enjoys “Signing Time” with Rachael Coleman and Baby Einstein. Since watching the Baby Einstein “Baby Wordsworth” video, she has learned the sign for computer. She’s always thought the computer was fun especially banging on the keyboards. But now…she constantly wants to get to the computer and she insists that she sit at it (like an adult) and bang on the keys. Of course, she also insists that the screen be on (in the past it didn’t really matter if it was on or off). Her recent growth spurt as allowed her to climb on the office chair by herself and swivel around to face the computer.
Well yesterday morning she woke up full of energy but a little fussy due to interrupted sleep the night before ( a couple of bouts of crying). She refused to eat her breakfast after I made it. She insisted that she did not want to leave the family room to go to the kitchen. So I decided to give her a little time to herself and go check my email in the other room. Not long after I hear the “pitter-patter” of toddler feet heading my way! So I quickly turn off the screen trying to fool her into thinking that the computer was off. No such luck! I guess she is smarter than I think. She excitedly climbs on the chair and starts banging on the keyboard. I quickly tell her, “The computer is off. Let’s go eat breakfast!” Then she starts, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” Next comes the whining and banging on the computer screen! I attempt to carry her off the chair and she wiggles out of my hands and back up to the chair with “Wait! Wait! Wait!” over and over again. Yikes! Yes, I know…I shouldn’t have even entered this room and attempt to use the computer in the first place. So I quickly picked her up and carried her reluctant body straight to her crib and put her in. There she stayed with the light on and the door open crying and whining. In the meantime, I sat in the kitchen listening to her wailing cry on the baby monitor thinking, “Hmmm, how long should I leave her…2 minutes for her age? Or until she stops crying?” Not knowing the correct method I decided to let her stay for 2 minutes. When I took her out she was still whimpering a little but was anxious to get out of the crib. I gave her a hug and told her that she needs to listen to mommy. Whew, that was stressful for ME! Probably more so than for her. I have to admit I felt a little guilty about the whole incident. Yes, I know I know…I’m spoiling my daughter! You can’t blame me since I’m a middleaged mom who has waited many years to have a child! (Again, a whole other story!)
That evening I headed straight to the bookstore for a book that was recommended to me. It’s called 1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. (Don’t you like the word magic…if only it was that easy.) Let’s face it I was in desperate need of a plan of action before my daughter became the sole dictator of my home. As soon as I got home, I dived right into the book to get some quick tips. Of course I knew that it wouldn’t really be quick but I needed something to make me feel like I was doing the parent thing correctly.
At this point, I’m half way through the book. I did learn a few things so far. First, there is a distinction between “Stop” and “Start” behaviors. Second, do not talk or show emotion when using the techniques. Third, these children are not “little adults” in disguise.
Believe me I can’t wait to get to the end and get started with my daughter. It’s for my own sanity as much as it is for her growth. I’ll be sure to tell you more when I’m done reading this book. If anyone out there has read it and can share some insights, I’d love to hear from you!