Day 287 – Time Out
I was still shaking a good fifteen minutes after my first time out intervention with my niece. I questioned whether I had made the right decision putting her in time out. I wondered if I had given her enough warning. It didn’t feel good doing it, but my gut instinct was that she needed to know I was the boss when momma was away and that this was not the time to wimp out.
She had stomped through the house yelling ‘no’ and then proceeded to smack the baby jumper before turning, looking me in the eye and then flinging the jumper across the room. Quite a tantrum. All brought on by Peter Pan. Movies and three-year-olds really don’t mix!
I put her in time out for two minutes. Then I asked her to apologize for throwing things in the house. She refused so I gave her a choice of apologizing or one more minute in time out. She obviously needed that third minute. After it was up, she immediately turned, wide-eyed and said she was sorry. We hugged and then I suggested we do something fun together. She nodded her head immediately with a huge smile and we started drawing pictures of Prince Eric and Princess Aurora.
What a quick transition from mad to sad to glad. It’s amazing what diversion tactics and a time out chair will do for a kid that a smack on the bum won’t.
Once I got her some juice and I gave her some of Auntie’s special candy (fruit strips), the peace and calm had returned. But it was still difficult for me. It was hard to relax into the shaking adrenaline coursing through my arms and legs. It was difficult to put on a smile and forget what had just happened, unlike my niece who couldn’t remember what she’d done by the time momma came home.
I’ve never really had to discipline kids before. My hats off to those of you that have. It’s a difficult job, but definitely a great lesson in letting go. I had to let go of my own emotions in order to deal with my niece’s. I had to let go of my angry tone once we had made up in order to divert attention towards positive actions and emotions. I had to let go of my need to do my own thing in order to sit with her and draw for the rest of the evening until momma came home.
I could have held on. I could have stayed mad or kept a prim, proper tone while we drew princes and princesses, but what would have been the point? It’s so easy to hold onto the negative instead of finding a way to move into a more positive atmosphere and emotional state. My niece would have suffered more if I hadn’t let go. I would probably have suffered for the rest of the night too.
I don’t claim to be a child rearing guru or the latest super nanny. I’m far from it. However, I do know that it’s not in my best interests to make life more difficult for anyone, including myself. There may need to be a bit of teeth gritting and discipline along the way, but hopefully time outs will give not only my nieces, but also myself a chance to let go of the negative while we figure out how to bring the positive back to life.