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Candle in the Night

Friday, July 15, 2011

Time-Out Success!

Discipline is not something I looked forward to doing with my children.  I don't think anyone does.  There are relatively few things that H can do right now that even require discipline.  Getting into the dog's food and water is one of them.  Directly disobeying something she's been told not to do is another.  We've experienced both.  The first thing we tried (for getting into the dog food) was a little slap on the hand.  We figured an immediate response to the action might be the trick.  You touch the food, your hand hurts.  Well, I don't think this worked.  There may have been a few reasons.  Firstly, I don't know that I was slapping her hand hard enough to hurt.  It's hard to tell and I didn't want to try any harder.  Secondly, I just don't think she got it.  When I slapped her hand, she'd look at me, look at her hand, and slap it with her other hand.  I think she thought I was teaching her something fun to do.

Then I read somewhere that time-outs become appropriate at around age one.  Brian and I decided we would try that.  We would give her one or two warnings (depending on if we thought she understood) and then sit her on the time-out mat for one minute.  We quickly discovered that we would be sitting there with her, re-positioning her frequently as she tried to get up.  At the end of the minute, we would give her a hug and say something like, "Okay, Mommy loves you, now let's go play with your toys!"  We also decided that it's best to get her up when she's sitting, not when she's in the middle of an attempted escape.  So even if it's a few seconds over a minute, that's okay.

The first time-out was for getting into the dog food.  Brian ran that one and she did NOT like it.  The next day, I did two with her.  The first was for playing in the dog's water.  She basically sat there looking around.  By the second one, she decided she didn't want to be sitting there.  About 30 seconds in, she looked up at me and signed "All done".  I said, "We're not all done." and continued sitting.  She wasn't happy.

We went a few days without a time-out and I kind of felt like we'd been successful.  She'd go toward the dog's food or water and we'd say "H" in that warning voice.  Or we'd say a firm "no" and she'd leave it alone.  I wasn't sure if this meant the time-outs were doing anything or not though.

Then, yesterday evening, we were playing with blocks.  She's been really good about playing with them nicely and stacking them.  She's never tried throwing them before.  Well, she decided stacking was boring and she threw one.  I calmly said, "H, we don't throw blocks, we stack them."  She threw another one.  This time, I was more firm.  "No, H.  Do not throw blocks."  She picked up another one to throw.  Brian and I both knew that if she threw this one, it would be time for a time-out.  I held her hand and helped her put the block on the tower we were building while saying, "We build with blocks.  We do not throw them."  When I let go of her, she picked up the block, looked at me and threw it.

I picked her up, carried her to the mat and did a one minute time out.  When it was over, I said, "I love you, H, now let's go play nice with the blocks!"  And she did!!  We built a tower and then picked them up when she was done!  Success!!



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