Saturday, 21 January 2012

A stitch in time (out).....

I am not so sure that this time-out thing works in the way in which it is intended.  I know that, if you apply it properly, it is supposed to cause a change in behaviour.  But for our family, just whose behaviour is open for question.  I have found that recently, it is more often my behaviour that has changed, immediately following a "time out" for one of our three.  Here is why:

The typical scenario opens when one or the other has done something to his/her siblings.  At present, it is usually as a result of the Zorro swords (I did know that would come to haunt me, but it was a difficult decision - skin cancer due to lack of sunhats, or rough behaviour due to emulation of violence-based superhero - I opted for behaviour I could hopefully change).  One committed an unintentional or slightly intentional application of a bit more force than is necessary for healthy play behaviour.  We tend to take a hard line with violence of any kind, and so the miscreant normally gets to take a breather in the bathroom for a few minutes to cool off and think about what he has done.  They usually accept this and go off quite easily to have a cool-down time. The wrongdoer then gets to come out, apologise to the ones he has wronged, and generally kiss and make up.

This on the whole is very effective.  However, one factor I did not bargain for is the emergence of baby-brain into an otherwise smoothly-functioning system.  I have been so tired or out of it that I have actually been forgetting about the one in time-out.  The other night, I had put Sam into the bathroom, and gave him the instruction to think about his behaviour.  He accepted it as usual, and sat down quietly on the floor of the bathroom on the towel we put out for them.  I got busy, and one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was relaxing in front of the TV with the Sweetpea and a glass of wine.  Halfway into the programme, a plaintive voice sounded from the bathroom.  "I have thought about my behaviour enough now," Sam wailed, "I am ready to say sorry."  He had been there for fifteen minutes already, and had had enough!

The Sweetpea and I were horrified!  "Do you realise this puts us firmly into the category of Bad Parents?" put in the Sweetpea.  "You'd better not write it into the blog," were his next words.  "They'll think we are terrible parents."
The logical conclusion is, of course, that we needed to make it up to him.  We smothered him with attention and love, and basically gave him the impression that perhaps being in a time-out is a desirable state given the over-reaction of his mortified parents afterwards.  

(Just by the way, the photos are not of the kids in a cage - although sometimes that does seem like a good idea. The Sweetpea and I would be able to sit in it and have some peace while the kids run riot on the outside.  But no, the pictures are of a recent "picnic" when the weather was bad and we built them a "tent" out of their old cots and a king-size fitted sheet!)

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