I’m just going to say it. I think I’m doing time-outs wrong.
You probably didn’t know it was possible to fail time-outs, but there are ways. Oh, there are ways alright. Let’s start with the facts. I copy my time-out style from Supernanny, which means we do the following: use your serious voice, put them on the naughty spot, use a timer, intervals match the age of the child (i.e. Thumper is 1 ½ years old, therefore gets a 1 ½ minute time-out), don’t talk to them while on the naughty spot, and when it’s over make sure to tell them why they got a time out, have them apologize and then hug and kiss and say I love you. Now this all seems straightforward I know, but when your child gets not only back-to-back time-outs, but back-to-back-to-back-to-back-time-outs, well, someone is screwing something up and you better figure it out before one or both of you spontaneously combust for getting/giving too many time-outs.
When we’re at home by ourselves, Thumper gets a time out here and there, but it’s usually not consecutive. Apparently she reserves her repeat offences for an audience, aka, during play dates. This tells me that one of two things is happening. Either I am not following through on discipline when we’re alone or the mere presence of other kids really pisses Thumper off. I’ve only just come to the realization that things are getting a tad out of hand, so today was Day One of Operation Stop Sucking at Time-Outs. I made sure to follow through on every warning I gave, but since we didn’t have any play dates today, it was hard to tell if it made a difference or if that was even the problem. There’s also this one other thing.
From what I gather, the part about your kid looking you in the eye while you explain why she got a time-out is really important. Um. Yeah. If there was a way to fail even more, than we are doing that. Because what we are not doing is making eye contact. I try hard, I swear I try so hard to make Thumper look me in the eye but I am fairly certain it’s impossible. Because even when I try to hold her face in front of mine she still has full control over where her eyes go, and they sure as hell are not going to look at mine, no matter how much I get up in her grill.
As for the reasons for the repeat offences during play dates, I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes because you think maybe I don’t know about the golden rules of play dates (which, by the way, are don’t have too many children over at once and don’t schedule them for longer than two hours because that is the absolute maximum amount of time in which children are willing to share toys). Look, I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. I follow the rules. But so far, I can’t see the pattern in Thumper’s madness. For example, last week we had Simba over and Thumper was great with him. She even willingly gave him toys to play with. But the next day, both Simba and Prince were over and Thumper split her time between stealing things away from people and sitting in the naughty spot. It may seem like having two other children around is too much for Thumper to handle. However, we were recently on another one-on-one play date and Thumper slapped my friend’s daughter across the face. (Side note: I was so embarrassed I just about ran from the room and let Thumper fend for herself.) Sometimes the other kids aren’t even paying attention to her and she freaks out on them. Other than the regular triggers that all kids have, being hungry or tired, I just can’t understand why my child can sometimes be the picture of a perfect social butterfly and other times be the pesky fly buzzing around everyone’s heads and slapping everyone’s kids.
I don’t expect her to behave all the time. I also don’t expect her to want to share or to really remember how. I’m fully aware that I’ll be showing her how to share and take turns for the next several years. But when she’s been in the naughty spot eleven times and it’s not even 10 a.m., there must be some sort of explanation for it. Is it because I can’t get her to look me in eye? Does she just hate other kids? Well, even if it kills me, I am going to figure out why we’re failing and then we are going to pass this stupid test like some sort of super awesome time-out ninjas. Also, your suggestions are welcome because this whole my-kid-is-the-instigator thing is really embarrassing and I think we’re starting to get a reputation. I watch Supernanny for tips on how to avoid one day being on Supernanny. The last thing I need is for someone to send in a letter for me stating how desperately I need her help and would she kindly please hurry so that Thumper will stop assaulting every child we know.
I guess stay tuned for an update at some point and in the meantime, please don’t take bets on who Thumper will abuse next.