I Need a Time-out…
Dad’s Gonna Lose It!
Ahh, time-out. That staple of parenting. The motor that drives the discipline for so many families around the world. The idea is simple enough. Kids love stimulation. If you take that away, in the frame of punishment, and give them a moment to calm down, they will listen better afterward. We have implemented this particular behavior control in my home as well.
In our house there is a short hallway leading to the playroom and my child’s bedroom. There is nothing in the hall to act as a stimulant, even to a young mind with it’s imagination racing. I can also see this hallway from the chair I usually sit in. I use a three-step method to my time-outs. The first one will see my son sitting and facing the wall for one minute. If he repeats the behavior he will go for two minutes, and three if he does so again. We rarely get to three minutes. Until yesterday.
Normally if I tell my son to go to time out he will walk quietly to the hallway, sit and pout. Then, when I say his time is up, he will return to play much calmer than before. But yesterday, the world turned upside down. I don’t know if he has been sneaking screenings of prison movies behind my back, or reading about overcoming oppression without me knowing, but he has decided to embrace his institutionalization. To carry the analogy further, rather than being the prisoner that breaks in isolation, he demands to be sent there and spits at the guard to lengthen the stay.
Yesterday, as he jumped on the couch, I called to him to get his attention and told him to sit. Rather than doing so he leapt from the cushion like an up-and-coming super hero and stood at attention, challenging me. Looking me squarely in the eye, he declared, “I need to go to time-out!”. After his statement of fact, he marched himself to the hallway and sat down facing the wall, and leaving me confused with my mouth hanging open.
Since this incident, time-out has become considerably less effective. After he took control of the situation, it almost seemed like he enjoyed being sent to time-out. He used his new found control to great effect, reveling in the fact that it left his mother and me stumped as to how to proceed.
There is some distant part of my mind telling me that this is a great development and I love seeing his own his responsibility as such thinking will help him greatly later in life. But right now, his stubborn independence and outspoken behavior are not traits of a future leader. Right now, they are the traits of a current asshole. And I know its bad to say my 3 year old son is behaving like an asshole, but sometimes I wonder if he is not some super-intelligent being put here to test my resolve in the most infuriating way.
Either way, this is the impasse where we find ourselves. He has declared all out war on the institution of time-out by way of silent protest. His mother is confused and full of self-doubt. And I just want to know how to make this child stop jumping on the couch!
Want more stories of my misadventures in parenting? Read Dad’s Gonna Lose It!
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