Sunday, February 15, 2009

March to the Closet

We've begun a new form of punishment for Preston. I feel like we've tried everything. I don't believe in spanking so that idea was out for us. Not that it would have worked anyways. Brad attempted to spank Preston a handful of times only to be met with Preston's giggles and attempt to hit back. Which only reinforced one of my arguements to Brad about why I don't believe in spanking. How do you teach a child not to hit if when they make you angry enough you hit them? But enough about that, everyone has their own ideas.

We then tried timeouts. These started in his crib. But we were forced to change that when Preston began to cry at bedtime. He'd started to associate his crib with timeouts and therefore thought that he was getting in trouble at bedtime. And he wasn't.

I wanted to stick with timeouts so I bought a timeout chair. The idea was that when he was naughty I would stick him in his chair and he would just sit there. That didn't work. If he was being naughty I don't know why I thought he'd listen and sit in the chair if he was being put in the chair for not listening.

But I was determined to stick with timeouts. If I gave up on those then what?! I was quickly running out of ideas. A friend sugguested that when he tried to get up from his timeout chair I sternly stick him back in it and tell him he was in timeout and would remain there. Unfortunately every time I stuck him back in his chair I was met with giggles. He had turned his one minute timeout into a game! A timeout isn't supposed to be fun or funny, so I threw that idea out.

How many changes can I make to the timeout? One more! I stuck with the idea of the timeout chair and this time started holding him in it for his one minute timeout. This infuriated him! Preston was furious that I refused to let him up from his seat for a full minute and that in order to enforce that I was willing to sit behind his chair and wrap my arms around his waist to make sure that he couldn't move his little butt up from that chair until I said so.

Unfortunately holding him in place aggravated me too. Wasn't a timeout about punishing Preston for being naughty, not punishing me at the same time? YES! At least that's how I felt.

I was out of ideas. I knew that I had to have some form of punishment for Preston when he was in fact being naughty. Especially after having a week with teenagers. I feel that if I don't teach Preston that if he is naughty he will be punished now then I'll be in a whole world of trouble when he's older.

Enter the bedroom timeout. I was whining about my troubles to a friend. How do I change the timeout so that it isn't something that I will dread more than Preston does? I feel like a timeout should not only be a learning experience for Preston but also a moment for me to calm down after him being naughty. Not only that but I wanted Preston to not have my attention during his timeouts and that's exactly what he was getting. My completely undivided attention all because he was naughty! That's when Courtney sugguested putting him in timeout in his bedroom.

At first I wasn't so sure that this would work. I mean he has toys in his bedroom. I didn't want him to enjoy his timeouts. I wanted him to think - well think as hard as he could at 18 months - about what he'd done wrong. But I was at the end of my rope with the timeout chair, so I was willing to give it a try.

Enter Preston pulling all of the garbage out of the garbage repeatedly after being told not to. I asked him to stop twice and he laughed and continued what he was doing. So I walked over, picked him up, and told him it was time for a timeout. Then I walked him over to our closet, set him inside, and closed the door. I was improvising.

I swear it's not as bad as it sounds. Our closet is huge. Half the size of an average bedroom huge. And no I'm not exaggerating. The owners before us converted the two back bedrooms into one large master bedroom and then turned half of one of the bedrooms into a closet. So there was more than enough room for our clothes and Preston's timeout. And the best part, in my eyes, was that our closet has no toys so Preston would be left to think about what he did wrong instead of left to play.

I talked to him through the door, telling him that he was naughty and we don't pull garbage out of the garbage can, I said that when Mommy says no it means no, and then asked him if he was ready to come out. I opened the door and he ran into my arms for a hug. Seriously, he was only in there for a minute. Then came the test. When we walked back into the living room and kitchen, would he leave the garbage can alone? We walked by it and I'm so proud to say that he did! It was looking like this was going to work out.

Fast forward a week. We've been using the closet for timeouts and it really seems to be working. Preston now even holds my hand and walks to the closet with me when I tell him he is going to take a timeout.

But then a miracle happened! Preston was throwing all of our refinancing paperwork all over the living room. And I told him to stop only to be met with laughter. I was frustrated and looked at him and told him to "go to the closet!". Much to my surprise he stopped what he was doing, looked at me, and headed for the closet. I followed him to make sure that he did in fact go to timeout. He did!! I was shocked! Later that same night we tested this once again. I can't remember what Preston had done, but I looked at him and told him to go to the closet. He stopped and headed in that direction. Only this time I didn't follow him. I watched him from where I was sitting to make sure that he did in fact go take a timeout. He did. And he even closed the door. Then I waited 60 seconds and headed back to tell him if he was going to be good he could come out.

I'm always given a hug when I open the door and we're working on getting him to say sorry. He also seems to be learning about cause and effect. If he is told "no" and doesn't listen then he will be put in timeout. And while he is in timeout he is given a minute to think about what he's done wrong and I'm given a minute to gather myself. Hopefully this new trend continues!

Not to mention that now when we move I'll have to demand that our next home have a large walk in closet since that is where timeouts are taken!

1 comment:

Mom said...

I don't think that is bad at all! I think it is fantastic. You guys have totally found what works for you! I think the bedroom will work when he is older and understands that he needs to sit on his bed without playing. My little brother has been doing that since he was like 4. Anyways, keep up the good work! Too bad we don't have any closets in our house! Well, we have one, but it's not big!

If you ever have more timeout issues... we used to use a timeout rug in the toddler room at the preschool. There was a bath rug in the corner and when they were in trouble, they sat on it. Someone stood there with their back to them to keep them in place! It worked pretty well!