I think I’ve mentioned this, but Mark and I have been taking a Love & Logic parenting class for the past four weeks (we have two more classes left). Each class is 2 hours and they’re literally amazing. We both totally love them. Once we’re done, I’ll do a complete post on the course, but for now, let’s talk time outs.
Last week, we learned about “bedroom time” and how this can be a very effective way of discipline. I spent the whole week contemplating how sweet little Charlie could possibly be ready for a time out. Would she understand? Would she be traumatized? Could I be strong enough to outlast her cries and resistance?
Needless to say, I avoided the whole concept. That is, until last night.
Charlotte woke up from her afternoon nap pretty early. She was a bit on edge all afternoon and by the time we got home from the office, she was downright sassy. Lots of whining and fake crying as I was trying to make dinner.
In an attempt to really push my buttons (aka get my attention), the little one went after our sweet kitty. With two hands, she latched onto that poor kitty’s tail and pulled with all her weight.
I jumped up and fumbled out some half instinct, half love and logic phrase as I picked her up and carried her to her room… something like, “OH NO! (said in an awkward panicked voice that was crossed with a tone that attempted to sound calm and in control) Looks like somebody needs a little bedtime… I mean, bedroom time.”
Now, let me interject here by saying that this little time out really threw me off. I had no intentions of being the first to handout a time out, but the kitty tail was too far. She knows that’s a BIG no-no. Needless to say, I was a little ill-prepared for my new parenting technique and it wasn’t a totally smooth process.
Me: “Charlotte, would you like to take your bedroom time with the door open or closed?”
Charlotte: Without saying a word, C begins closing the door with both of us standing outside of her room.
Me: “It looks like you’ve chosen to have the door closed.”
Charlotte: Throws body face down on the floor while letting out a big whiney cry.
Me: “That’s okay. Mommy will move you and close the door,” I said as I set her down away from the door. “Mommy will start the timer once you are calm. And then, you may come out.” And then I shut the door, retreated to the kitchen and stalked the video monitor praying for the child to stop crying so I could start the timer.
She cried. Over the monitor, I said one more time, “Once you are calm, mommy will start the timer and then you may come out.”
Within 30 seconds to a minute, she settled down. I looked at the clock and started my rough timing. Within a few seconds, Charlotte managed to open the door (for the very first time ever). DAMN.
Me: (As I scoop up Charlie and bring her back into her room) Oh no. That’s so sad… Now we have to start the timer over.
I shut the door again and went back to the monitor.
Charlotte cried for a few seconds. Nothing too crazy. And then, she was calm. I set the timer for 1.5 minutes and just watched her, silently praying, “please stay calm, please stay calm.”
BEEP! BEEP! The timer went off.
I ran to her room, opened the door.
Me: “Looks like you’re calm and ready to come out. Want to give mommy a hug?”
Then we hugged it out and carried on with our food prep (she helped me this time).
Well, within 10 minutes, I heard the cat scream again. I looked over and sure as shit, Charlotte is yanking that poor kitty’s tail… AGAIN!
I grabbed Charlotte and this time in a much more Love & Logic tone said, “Uh oh. Looks like you need a little bedroom time. Would you like the door open or closed?”
She again tried to close the door with her body positioned in the hallway. “Okay, sounds like you’ve chosen to have the door closed.”
I closed the door and ran back to the monitor. This time was different. First of all, I’m about 90% sure that Charlotte pulled the poor kitty’s tail to confirm the cause/effect situation. Just one final confirmation that she had in fact ended up in a timeout due to her cat tail pulling shenanigans.
Second, she really did not throw much of a fuss. After maybe 15 seconds of mild crying, Charlotte sat down in front of the door and calmly just stared at it.
With about 20 seconds left, I decided to reset the timer for an additional full minute, as we had talked about 2 minutes being a good amount of time in class. Why half ass it at this point, right?
So I reset the timer and watched my silly girl. She didn’t play at all. Towards the end, she stood up and sort of paced, all while keeping her eyes on the door. I hate to laugh at her expense, but it was actually a bit silly to watch her. If nothing else, it was distracting…
I opened the door. “It sounds like you’re calm and ready to come out. Would you like to give mommy a hug?”
We hugged it out and all was well.
My takeaway? I would say it was a HUGE success. Now, who knows what will happen next time, when she is less thrown off by mommy’s new trick. But the first time worked really well.
Until the next time out, I’ll ignore the fact that Charlotte’s spent a large amount of time last night and today working on opening up her bedroom door on her own.