Charlie’s First Time Out

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. 

 I started the timer for 1.5 minutes. “Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm.”

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.


Morning Coffee

This morning I finally made it to “Morning Coffee” at Charlotte’s preschool. Morning Coffee is an hour chat hosted by the preschool for (mostly) mommies and (maybe one) daddy to discuss parenting challenges, successes, etc.

Today, the administrator’s “mentor” / school advisor was there. She’s this adorably quirky lady with some sort of foreign accent. At first I thought French. Then I thought Israelli. Guys, don’t ask me… I’m from Wisconsin. She’s not local, how about that?

Anyway, she was wearing this Mary Poppins(ish) outfit with a more modern spin. Black dress with a crisp white collar under a black cardigan and black tights. Immediately I equated her to the Supernanny.

Everyone went around and introduced themselves (to me, as it was my first time attending) and then a couple of women brought up some issues they’ve been having. The gist of the discussion was disciplining. Surprise, surprise!

One woman was dealing with her typically sweet two year old acting out by beating up/tackling his older sister and randomly kicking her (she’s pregnant). Another woman had just lost her live-in nanny who left mainly because she said her son was “too difficult.” One other woman talked about her child throwing a mega tempertantrum in public and how she dealt with it.

First, let me say how much I loved the Supernanny. Her advice and suggestions were SO “Love and Logic,” which is a parenting technique that has really resonated with Mark and I.

Second, here were some takeaways…

  • Child Kicking Mom: Supernanny says, “The best way to address this is to calmly and sternly say, “No, stop that now.” This is unnacceptable behavior and we must create a framework immediately that this is not okay.” So the very interesting part is that she said not to threaten, “if you don’t stop, then… ” whatever the consequence of the moment might be (you’ll lose this privilege or that). She said we just sternly tell them to stop and hold their legs or whatever until they do. We don’t have to explain that it hurts. Nothing. Just draw the line at unacceptable behavior. As she was talking, I drew this conclusion that by saying “if you don’t stop kicking, then blah blah” you’re almost giving your child a choice. You’re saying you can kick me but you won’t have XYZ or you can stop kicking and have XYZ. Versus what Supernanny advised, which is simply drawing the line. Interesting, right?
  • Tempertantrum in Public: In this instance, the mom carried the kid out kicking and screaming. Once in the car, mom told the kid that he has now lost his tv privilege for the day. Later in the day, she gave him an opportunity to earn the privilege back. It’s unclear if he did or not. Supernanny’s response: no, no. “What relevance does the tv have to the tempertantrum? The consequence is leaving. There does not need to be further punishment.” This is interesting, too. I feel like the tantrums stay with a parent longer than with the kid. We’re still fuming well after the tantrum ends. Maybe that’s why we feel the need to further punish past the natural consequence.
  • Kid Beating Up His Sister: “Actions are the venue for our children’s questions.” This is a fancy way of saying that little dude is picking on his sister to express something else that’s going on. She said in this case, it was most likely that the little boy (younger sibling) is trying to gain some dominance. His role as “little brother” was obvious when he was a baby, but now as a 2.5 year old, he’s looking to be more of a leader. Supernanny suggested addressing both children at one time. Making sure to treat them as equals. Discuss how it’s clear that the way that they play together is different and ask them to talk about that a little. Ask questions to promote conversation. What I really liked about this discussion was the stress on talking to the children at one time. When you address your children individually, you’re playing into the tattling. You’re rewarding the behavior by picking a side.

All in all, it was a very interesting and thought-provoking discussion. I’m definitely looking forward to attending more. I love hearing all of the issues, which will likely soon become my own. I think knowing potential solutions prior to experiencing the problem will be very beneficial.

Oh! One more interesting comment… it kind of relates to the last one… make sure you are addressing the problem, not the symptom. Dig for the why behind the action.

What are your thoughts?