You don’t know what program I’m talking about? Why it’s the standard ABA “time-out” program, of course. I’m hoping this manner of discipline will break the battle of wills that has come up recently. Specifically? My son knows it is inappropriate to yell inside the house or car. He does it anyway.
It’s not like there is this long, high-pitched wailing going on (although, at times, it can happen). It’s more like I’m lulled into this sense of kind of a low level of stress. I let my guard down. You know the feeling. You have been working, at home or in the outside world, for a minimum of 8-9 hours. You finally decide to give yourself a break. You sit down. Maybe try to get in a little reading or, feeling really luxurious, plucking your eyebrows. Out of nowhere, there is an “AHHHHHH!!!” Nerves frayed, heart racing, ears bleeding.
My natural reaction is – uh – not the flight choice. My first, untrained, freaking out response is to yell back, “KNOCK IT OFF!” or better yet, “QUIT YELLING!” while yelling. You know. Do as I say, not as I do. I have done this with no improvement in the outcome of my efforts! Can you believe it?
So, I decided to put the old, tried-and-true “time out” into full operation. Don’t feel sorry for him. He got more than one warning. He knows the drill.
There is minimal set up time and expense so I really have no excuse for not implementing the plan. I take one of his little kid chairs from his little kid table. I carry it to our time out spot. This is in a little hallway outside a bathroom. No TV to hear. No windows. No toys or distractions. Nothing interesting. I open the “clock” app on my phone, set it for five minutes and direct him to the chair.
You think that’s that? Oh no. It’s just beginning. First, he tries to talk to me. “Mommy’s putting you in a ….” and he wants me to complete the sentence. Ignore. He twists and turns in the chair, trying to perform the Chinese Acrobat Act to make time out “fun.” Without making eye contact, I put his butt back on the seat. Ignore.
Next, he starts mumbling to himself. “When it’s dark outside, it’s night time…You could play Smart Cycle. I wanna be the blue one. Yellow. Green!”
This is the hard part for me. I have to ignore and try not to laugh while he mumbles these things under his breath to himself, enunciating each syllable, and making quite the animated faces, while looking off in the distance with his trademark head tilt. I usually keep my back to him so I don’t waver and make eye contact.
Five minutes seems like an eternity. Let me tell you. When he’s in time out, so am I. If I walk away for even 20 seconds, he will get out of the chair and bolt to play with the first thing he can get to…
At least twice, on average, during the time out, he will try to suck me in to some conversation. While I wait for the timer to go off, I will scroll through my email or Facebook to help pass the time. He can see my hand movements on the phone and says, “Mommy is playing …….” hoping I will tell him the name of some game on the iPhone or just engage in conversation, like a prisoner and a guard. Ignore.
When that timer finally rings (I have it set to harp music) that kid bolts out of that chair like it was on fire. He doesn’t wait to hear, “Time out is all over. Why were you in time out?” He’s gone three doors down back to the item that caused him to get the time out in the first place.
The current source of my nervous breakdown is all manner of electronic devices. It could be as simple as a TV program. It could be his DS, Wii, Smart Cycle (a bike he rides that has a video game component to it) or the iPad. Lately, the two characters that seem to have prompted my most recent bout of premature aging are these guys:
Now, I’m not in favor of removing them from the menu. Rather, I’m in favor of forcing the screaming from the menu. So far, he has received five time outs in a period of about three hours- the last one being for a scream he did after he was in bed. We’ll see how this method plays itself out. Keep your fingers crossed.