So the bad news about using the time-outs is:
- They are total BS and a major PITA.
- What the book describes as a few minutes of quiet time to regroup and learn consequences is actually a 20 minute process of kicking, screaming and general histrionics.
- It never gets any easier despite what the so-called experts say.
- It is nearly impossible to juggle effective time-outs with multiple kids unless you have instituted the protocol long before the introduction of the second/subsequent ones.
- It is a crap-ton of work that is basically just extended punishment of the authority figures involved...a pretty common theme in parenting.
- They do work.
- Time-outs shift the blame from "mean-mommy" to the child in an innocuous way. Instead of wondering why your child is tormenting you, there is an awareness that the child made a choice and now they will deal with the outcome. No blaming or making anyone feel guilty, just a subtle reminder to think twice next time.
- If you can tough it out it only takes a few days to move from each time-out being 45 minutes of temper tantrums to a place where the mere statement that a time-out could occur is enough to quell negative behavior.
- The process does teach a child the concept of choices and accountability for those choices.
- You, as a parent, do walk away feeling empowered to change negative behavior and I, for one, no longer feel like a constant victim of my kids and their drama.
With Cha Cha the first offending behavior gets a warning "we don't (fill in the blank), your choices are stop (fill in the blank) or go in time-out" then if the behavior continues it is straight to time out with the constant mantra of "you (fill in the blank) so now you need to have a time-out." I set the timer for three minutes and if she tries to run away or escape (and she does) then I put her back and reset the clock. Granted certain events mean discipline with no warning cry such as any wailing on her sister and dangerous behaviors that require immediate intervention. It is grueling and seemingly way more trouble than it is worth, but the reward is that we are living in what feels like a new house.
Around here the new party-line is "I don't negotiate with terrorists." Plain and simple your poor behavior will only earn a negative outcome for you. Just you, and no one else. Mom and Dad will not cave because you scream, we will not drop everything to meet your every whim just because you throw a fit. That ship has sailed. Also, Bitz, this goes for you too. Lesson learned about trying to reason with people who have the reasoning skills of kelp.
Hopefully this will help someone out. I know I am glad we did it since Cha Cha was well on her way to full-on Bratdom and well, I just don't want that for my kid. As overwhelming a thought as this is, I am responsible for turning her into a functioning member of society. Discipline is the seedy underbelly of that responsibility, but hey, no one said parenting was all rainbows and tea-parties after all.