The Effectiveness of Time Out

For what seems to be like the 100th night in a row (but in reality is only night four), ‘lil Miss A has been getting herself into some trouble. One night it is pretending to hit ‘lil Man. Another it is running away from her dinner and letting Rowdy get to it. Another is just flat out not listening (then back talking).

‘lil Miss A is three. THREE!

Ok, Mama Burgher. ‘lil Miss A is only three.

But she gets it. And she has since she was a tiny toddler. She understood Mama and Daddy would be disappointed in her if she did something we said, “No!” to. She cried when she saw us unhappy, sat a minute (or two or three) then came to tell us she loved us.

Lately? It’s been a whole different child. It’s been “how far can I push them ’til they break” every. single. night. this. week.

Part of me blames myself. I was never great at being tough on my students (although the good Lord did test me the year I was pregnant), but I was not afraid to use “the look” or the principal or a call home. I didn’t let the kids run over me, but I probably let them get away with some behaviors that I shouldn’tve (only because I REALLY needed to focus my energy on the positive). So, I learned to center on the positive, give rewards. This isn’t working for A as much lately as it has.

Part of me blames her smarts. She’s so darn smart, and really wants to be grown (as I type this, she says she’s making cotton candy–what three year old says that?). She knows Mr. Burgher and I have our limits, and she knows right about where they are. She’s smart enough to know that even when I threaten that Pappy won’t come spend the night with her on Saturday, that he still will.

Part of me blames society. We do focus on the positive, rewarding good behavior and ignoring the bad. We model good behavior, reward even borderline good because at least they have the will to do good. But when it comes to bad, what do we as parents do? There is no principal to call, no threat to call home. We are home. We have to teach them disappointment and disrespect and how that hurts Mom and Dad. We send them to timeout for a few minutes then let them get up to go back to what they are doing.

She’s learning, and I totally give her that. We’ve been lucky. She’s been a good kid, she’s just testing us this week (and will for the next 15 or more years of her life). She’s worrying about not eating beans, but won’t eat the chicken and pickles she asked for. Her troubles are few, her mind is advanced. It’s a tough place to be, and it is giving this Mama grief.

Time out is no longer working–she even puts herself on it–so aside from removing her from situations and letting her cry, I am at a loss. I guess those are the right things to do, but it’s just tough parenting such an amazing kiddo.

What have you found effective in parenting and discipline? We’re not anywhere close to needing Nanny 911, but is there a tried and true method? Should we set up a “super kid” store and let her earn rewards with points? Give us some tips!

2 thoughts on “The Effectiveness of Time Out”

  1. I’m afraid I don’t have any answers for you (yet) as I’m currently pregnant with my first child. But I read your post with interest as I am curious to know how you and others are managing discipline in the household. My only experience with this is with my cat, who has some nasty habits (e.g., biting). I tried to use various punishment techniques, and none worked, and recently I went to the vet who forbade to use any kind of punishment and just “walk away” when the cat misbehaves. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with the cat, and it probably wouldn’t with a child either….so, I apologize for this completely useless comment, but I enjoyed reading your blog!

  2. Y’know, we’re not quite there, but I can certainly see how this would become an issue in our house very quickly… we’ll be there soon enough, but I have the perspective of two at the same time… I think there will be two types of trouble: one where one of the girls will do something wrong and the other will react by getting into trouble with them … and one where one will get into trouble and be chastised by the other… they will both happen I’m sure, but I’m hoping they will keep each other straight more often than double teaming us with double trouble… Hey, I can hope, right?

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