I have some real posts brewing, I promise. Meanwhile...
Yes, it's really the 20-second time out, like in basketball. I know. I just like to amuse myself.
Let me begin by saying, before I was a parent myself, I thought time outs were, well, unimaginative. I was a big believer in "let the punishment fit the crime" and figured all the parents out there who relied on such things were not putting forth their effort wisely and were denying their children creative discipline.
Okay, you can stop laughing now. I'm learning my lesson. I never counted on the fact that young children #1: need immediate consequences and #2: get into some very challenging messes. What precisely would fit the "crime" of climbing atop of the piano, crawling across to the other side, and flinging down dvds her daddy and I had unthinkingly left up there? I mean, really?
Thus, time outs have made their way into our regular discipline repertoire. But, here's the deal. Sometimes I have promised my daughter a time out for whatever errant behavior I can see brewing behind those pretty blue eyes, then she goes and messes with me by doing something good that I want to reward.
Like this morning, she was sitting next to me at the computer, looking longingly at the top of the piano. I told her if she climbed up on the piano again (I've pulled her down twice already today), she would get a time out. She made it up onto the piano, but as soon as I called her name she compliantly climbed back down.
I faced a dilemma. I wanted to encourage her prompt response to my request, but at the same time I wanted to be consistent, honoring my word and giving her a time out for climbing up there in the first place.
Out of the carpetbag (just like Mary Poppins) comes the 20-second time out. Long enough she knows that she did something wrong, but shorter than if she'd refused to come down on her own. I like to think of it as time off for good behavior.
Now, can anybody tell me why God would bless me with a child who thinks it's fun to climb up on top of the piano in the first place? Really. I saved my childhood climbing for in the basement, stacking chairs on top of my wobbly kid-sized kitchen table. My mother never had any idea. Surely I deserve as much consideration from my daughter. Don't I?
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