Discipline 101

We have had an interesting weekend when it comes to curbing some of the Munchkin’s behavior. Friday, I had a long chat with my Mom about introducing to the Munchkin the concept of time-out. I was beginning to see that some of the measures we were using simply weren’t working. And then I talked with Friend (who likes cheese) for her view. She gave me an interesting idea that she has used with the Brain (Head is still too young for this).

In order to successfully accomplish a time-out, the parent sits down with the child in their lap, and holds them still for the duration of the time-out. No talking or eye contact with the child is allowed. This has the unfortunate side-effect of putting the enforcing parent on time-out as well, but no young toddler can be expected to sit still unless they are strapped into a highchair or a car seat. Time is related to age, with one minute for each year – the Munchkin is 18 months old, so she gets 90 second time-outs.

Ohh, she hates it. She is on a “three-strikes” policy, where if we have to tell her to not do something three times, a time-out is earned. This is, of course, suspended for the truly dangerous things she might do – like running away in a parking lot (which she has done in the past). That kind of behavior earns a spanking, because a more immediate punishment is needed. And a spanking on a diapered bottom is more of a shock than an actual hurt – at least, that is the intention. But the time-outs seem to bother her even more, because she knows that she is being punished, her movement is temporarily restricted, and she doesn’t like it one bit. She cries and yells and fusses, but after it is all over, we give her a hug and a kiss and tell her that we love her, but she is not allowed to hit/touch certain things (like fan control buttons)/push or shove other kids/etc.

We had to start this now. When Munchkin #2 arrives, I forsee with my amazing Jedi powers (ha ha) that there will be plenty of opportunities for the Munchkin to misbehave. We can already see a sampling of that with Little Cousin. She has never done anything directly malicious to Little Cousin, but she doesn’t live with her, either. So, if I instituted a brand-new punishment just when her baby brother shows up… this could be bad.

Now, the Munchkin is not a bad child. But whoever believes that people are inherently good – have never lived with a toddler. I don’t have to teach her how to behave badly – I have to teach her how to behave properly. If she was inherently good, I wouldn’t have to worry about training her “in the way (she) should go, and when (she) is old (she) will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

So, for now it is time-outs on my lap or her Daddy’s. Someday it will be in a chair, facing a corner or a wall. And someday, we get to do this all again with Munchkin #2. Good thing there are more positives than negatives to parenting, otherwise we’d go insane.

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