Thursday, September 8, 2011

Time Out

I've never been one to fully agree with the Time Out system. But maybe just because it was never used on me. I remember one instance when I was maybe 3 when I yelled shut up at my mom and was dragged to my room had the door shut. I don't remember how long or how it started or how it was resolved. I also don't remember it happening again.
I do remember going to my room myself when I was in disagreement with what was happening. I don't know how that started either.
But we never had a time out chair or mat or a time out corner.
And so I never had a plan in my head for dealing with Toby Tantrums.

The tantrums themselves are manageable. And by 'manageable' I mean that I've learned what to expect and know they're last half an hour, and cant really do much but just let him vent. Twice he's been put in his room while I hold the doors closed if he's hit me or something, but it's not often. Just usually a lot of tears and being contradictory.

But the one thing I can't tolerate is the fact that he kicks the cats.

I think it started simply because he'd see us nudge them out of a doorway with our foot, or sometimes give them tummy rubs with our toes.
He does the same, but with gusto.
And then finds it hilarious when the cats run away.

For the first while I issued gentle reminders that the cats might like it better if we scratch them on the head instead of kicking. I demonstrated and he followed and it was fine.
After a few weeks of that he'd scratch them on the head, and then kick them.

My methods turned to 'HEY! We do NOT kick the cats. leave them alone now please!'
To which he'd either cry or laugh and then repeat the scenario in a few minutes.
I started making him go apologize to the cats and make sure they were ok. He'd dawdle about it, but then eventually mumble a: 'I'msorryFredforkickingyouIwon'tdoitagain'

It was becoming apparent that this was a game. He was somehow taking out frustrations on the only thing around here that's smaller than he is. But it didn't just happen when he was angry, he'd go outside and the first thing he'd do is run over to a cat and squeal with delight as it ran from him at full speed.

"Hey Toby, you're running over there to pet the kitty right? I"m sure you are!"
He pauses and thinks and stops running. He knows I'm on to him. He stands beside the cat for a few seconds before very slowly reaching out his foot to step on a twitchy tail.
"Ok, inside." I say with a shrug.
"Yeah well, you know better than that and if we can't be out with the cats then I guess we have to go back in"
"I don't either, but we can't really be out here can we?"
Toby proceeds to shriek and demand that I stay outside with him.
"Ok fine but we're having a two minute time out on the step. Have a seat."
I don't say anything but I sit down on the front step and start playing with a piece of grass. Toby starts to wander away.
"Nope, Toby we're going to sit here until the cat comes over and we can tell him you're sorry. Two minutes, k?"
Toby stops. He eventually comes to sit beside me.
"Where did Fred go mom?"
"Dunno. might be hiding. We'll have a time out while we wait for him to come talk to us"
We actually sat in silence for a while, which was very surprising because Toby usually needs to commentate everything. I think if I had gotten up and tried to leave him alone in time out it wouldn't have worked. So I sat with him and said as little as possible.
Eventually I asked quietly: "Do you know why we're sitting here Toby?"
He shies away and doesn't want answer. I ask again.
"Cause I kicked a cat" he mumbles.
"Yeah, and I that they don't like it very much, nobody runs up and kicks you right? So maybe we should say sorry to Fred and ask if he is ok."
Eventually Fred comes over and I have to calmly keep reminding Toby to stay sitting until the cat come right over in front of us.
Toby gives him a hug and says sorry and says he hopes he's ok.

That happened twice yesterday within a couple hours with different cats.

Today he rushed up to George and then crouched down and pet him on the head before running back to me saying "MOM, I petted George!!!"

He chased Fred a bit but didn't do much.

I  think if I implement Time Outs for everything they'll loose their effectiveness, so for now I'm just going to keep them for violent acts, like tantrum hitting or kicking the cats.
Things like yelling and acting out I think is something that toddlers need help with to understand their new emotions and the acceptable actions to take. Yes, removing them from the situation when in public or with guests over is ideal, but staying with them until they calm down shows them that you are in control and that you are there to help. Shoving them in a room or a corner just to get rid of them doesn't give them any security, and if they're anything like my kids, it just escalated the screaming match instead of serving as a calming technique.

Hopefully the thing with the cats gets better. Hopefully these tantrums slow down.
Hopefully I can stay one step ahead of the game.

1 comment:

  1. yep I agree 100%. I too just remove them from the situation without removing them completely. When they are fighting over a toy I make them both sit on the couch until they work it out. Usually they sit there for 1 second and it's worked out. I also make them sit on the stairs if need be. The bedroom is only when I am about to lose it and it is for their protection because I don't believe in spanking but at that point I am really wanting to dole out a smack lol.