Since having Kyler, my social life has taken a bit of a nosedive. These days my idea of a party is to Netflix and chill. Justin and I started watching a TV show called "Better Call Saul," a prequel to "Breaking Bad." Now I am watching the original series for the first time. The title got me thinking about breaking bad toddler habits. I first talked about sleep and now am discussing timeouts to curb bad behaviour.
Recently a couple of moms have complimented me on how I discipline my child. I was more flattered that they focused on that instead of my toddler's tantrums! My philosophy with disciple is that it should be a teaching tool. Punishment focuses on retribution whereas discipline focuses on rehabilitation.
I am not an advocate of spanking. I personally believe it’s too easy to overdo it in frustration not to mention it can send a contradicting message. For example, my toddler has smacked his newborn brother a few times. If my response is, “Don’t hit your brother!” [WHACK!], how confusing is that? Any physical response to a behaviour is strictly limited to physical safety such as smacking his hand away from a hot oven. I strive to limit physical force and yelling so that when it’s required, it makes an impact. If I am hollering all the time not only is it ineffective, but it makes for a hostile home.
I also am not an advocate of bribes. In our home, we expect our children to abide by our rules. They don't have to always like them or agree with them, but they have to follow them. We will verbally praise good behaviour as a positive reinforcement and occasionally reward them, but the prize should not be the motivating factor.
I am an advocate for timeout. It removes the child from the situation giving them an opportunity to reflect, decompress and also restricts their freedom for a short period of time. Timeouts should be calming, but not fun. We use the bottom step of our stairs when at home and in public I’ll create a makeshift spot on-the-go.
This is my process of toddler timeouts:
1. VERBAL CORRECTION
Dylan receives correction and I express my expectations. I try not to threaten with a timeout right away as most times the correction is sufficient. I always thank him for his obedience. If he misbehaves again, I proceed to Step #2.
2. A SECOND CORRECTION IS FOLLOWED BY A WARNING
Example: "When you throw the toy at Mommy, then you go to timeout."
Depending on the misbehaviour, a timeout may be coupled with another consequence such as the confiscation of a toy.
If he still misbehaves, Dylan is walked to timeout with an explanation [at eye-level] of why he is there and what I expect of him during his time out. “Stay put until I say you can come out."
Timeout consists of him sitting in his spot without getting up [one minute per age].
If he does stray from timeout initially, the timeout instructions are repeated and the clock resets.
Any subsequent straying results in no words being spoken or eye contact, but simply walking him back to his spot with the clock resetting.
This is important, as sometimes the extra attention can turn into a game. Timeout is designed to create momentary isolation. The message is when you behave, you can rejoin the fun.
4. REPEAT THE LESSON & APOLOGIES
I keep the lesson brief such as "No hitting." With toddlers less is more- keep it concise!
5. CONCLUDE WITH HUGS & KISSES
This is the best part!
The first timeout took a lot of patience and silent walks back to the timeout step. However; by the second or third time he sat there obediently. Last week at playgroup he smacked a kid [ugh!] and I put him in a makeshift timeout in front of the trains no less… and he stayed! Mommy wins!
Afterwards, he was his normal sweet self and I snapped this adorable pic.
Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way they should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it."