Wednesday, February 14

Works for Me: 22nd Time Out

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?

For more tips, tricks, and techniques, visit Rocks in my Dryer.


  1. Yay for you for being consistant! Even though she didn't make it to the top of the piano, she still disobeyed. And I think I like the 20 second time out. For a very small child, 20 seconds can still seem like a very long time. Long enough to get the point across.

    By the way, my youngest two are also piano climbers. Baby boy is about to be 15 months, and I've already caught him standing up on top like the king of the mountain.

  2. Queen of the Mountain. Yup. That's her. :)

  3. <.. big grin ..> You did great in the consistancy! And it's a good tip, too. Sometimes thinking on the fly is the BEST kind of thinging.

  4. Well, at this point of time we don't have a piano for Snuggle Bug to climb on, but if we did I'm sure he'd be on the top! :) I'm with you, why is it that my child does things were I can see and panic over his safety? I just to do my jumping from one garage roof-top to another when my mom wasn't around! :)

    I think your 20-second time out idea is a good one! Thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for taking the time to comment on my WFMW 10 Reasons Why Parents Should Not Spank post.

  5. Started on my blog...popped over to Overwhelmed to post a return comment and then linked here from her no spanking article. And, just got back from assisting at a non-violent parenting spinning, too much to say here, but I'd like to post some thoughts(maybe tomorrow) on this subject - I'll start on my blog since I tend to go on...I'll link back...maybe the 3 of us can tag team some posts.


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