Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My timeout conundrum

Timeout is tricky business in my home. My son really does not like to be put in timeout. When told to go and sit on the timeout step he will yell “No!” and take off, running laps around the house. It is not until he completly understands that I mean business will sit in timeout.

Going to his room for timeout is another battle. It is when he has been really naughty that the “Go to your room” card gets played. And then I feel like it is a battle to get him up to his room. Oh the joys of timeout…

Once timeout has been established he is perfectly content to sit quietly and patiently for the one-to-two minute timeout. Once his time is up he will ask if he is all done and he will apologize for whatever behavior got him put in timeout to begin with. Good, right?

No – not good. The timeout has become a band-aide for misbehaving. For that matter, so has “I’m sorry.” My son knows when he has done something wrong. He knows when he is going to be in trouble for doing something, and yet he still does it. I know that he is testing his boundaries and seeing how far he can push the limits. I know that this is typical three year-old behavior- especially for boys, but come on! This has got to get better!

When he is not running away from time-out he is placing himself in timeout – hoping that this will be a sufficient punishment for whatever he has done wrong. For example, we went to the park and William shoved Steven on the playground and Steven started to cry. William walked to the park bench and sat down. He informed me that he was in timeout for two minutes, and that it would be all better. Seriously… what kid puts himself in timeout?

When asked why he was in timeout he was able to tell me exactly what he did. When asked if that was a good decision, he knew that it was not. I kick myself for not following this up with the question about WHEN he knew it was a bad decision. In retrospect {because hindsight is 20/20} I should have asked my son if he knew before or after that shoving his baby brother was not the right decision.

So I let him have his timeout. When it was over he went up to his brother and told him he was sorry and gave him a kiss to make him better. Then we went back to playing. He did not shove his brother again while at the park and we had a nice day playing outdoors. No temper tantrum, no melt down.

What I struggle with is that I am not sure if he really thinks about his decisions before he makes them and is timeout really the best solution? What do you think?

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