1,2,3 Magic

Apparently I talk too much during time outs.

I should clarify that these aren’t my time outs (though lord knows I could probably use one or two). They are Cameron’s. You see, even though Cameron is the sweetest, smartest, most affectionate boy ever – sometimes he has a nasty temper. So, he gets a time out.

Have you ever read 1,2,3 Magic? It’s a childcare manual that my mom told me about. The whole magic is that when your child is bad, you give him 3 chances to straighten up and act right. On 3, if the kid continues with the bad behavior, they get a time out. The book’s author, Dr. Thomas Phelan, says that throughout this, you should be as calm and even-tempered as you can. That means no grabbing the kid and tossing him in the time out chair, no empty threats, and very little talking while the kid is in time out. No emotions from you. You are the adult.

I’m so bad at keeping my emotions out of it.

I was raised by parents who under no circumstances would have tolerated stuff like talking back or open defiance. In fact, I wouldn’t be here writing this if I’d have tried half the stuff Cam tries with me. So I get angry when he is angry and disrespectful with me. However, i know I have to get better at these situations. I was talking to a childcare expert Monday and she re-emphasized what I already know. I need to count to three, and if it turns out that he goes to time out, it needs to happen with as little fuss or drama as possible. I need to calmly let him know that his only option is to serve his time out. There shouldn’t be any bargaining or even explaining why at that point. If he is in time out screaming and carrying on, I’ll say stuff to him like “you aren’t getting up until you calm down.” But that’s a no-no.Talking happens later, when he is calmer and more receptive.

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Time out

I think people can sense when you aren’t too steady with your own power. Especially kids. Kids depend on their instincts to learn. They are still figuring out how to maneuver through the world. They don’t have a bunch of experience to draw from, but they have the sense they were born with. So, If you aren’t secure in the role of mommy, they are the first to sniff that insecurity out. Then run wild over you. Kids can be pretty ruthless.

I’d much rather be nice. I actually shrink away from any kind of conflict. Even with adults, I over-think. I worry I’m being too harsh or hurting feelings.

So when it’s time to administer a time-out, I’m just as stressed out as my kids are. I hate hearing them cry and scream. It makes everything inside me bunch up and stand on end. I just want us to hug and have awesome times! Why’d you have to harsh our buzz by hitting your brother, Grace?!

But I know I have to soldier through it so that they learn what is and isn’t acceptable. I do it now so that hopefully I won’t have to deal with worse behavior when they are bigger.

So, no, Cam and Grace won’t like me all the time. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that they will be pissed at me at some point during each and every day. And that’s fine. We’ll be friends when they are 30. They’ll be able to drink by then anyway.


Discipline

I’ve been working to get better at disciplining the kids. Before I had kids, everyone told me they saw me as being a “nice” mom — too nice to be mean when I had to be. I always argued against that. I hate seeing ill-mannered kids! I would not take any crap! I would be fearsome!

Yeah – no. Cameron and Grace aren’t…bad. But I know that I need to be more firm with them. I need to establish good habits so that they know how to speak to me, how to speak to other adults and…um…not act  a damn fool and embarrass me in public. Ahem.

I think that I am, by nature a gentle person, so it’s hard to be firm. I also have hippie tendencies, so I don’t wanna harsh anyone’s buzz or squish my precious little angels’ dreams. I want them to be happy – but within normal boundaries.

My kids are incredibly bright and incredibly stubborn. Whatever they want, I want them to have because I love them. Also, they sometimes convince me that they need it, so powerful is their whining and crying. It feels unnatural for me to assert myself with them. But I have to. They need to understand that I’m not Lisa, the lady who they debate with. I’m the mommy. What I say goes. I run this.

I’d love to say that I have come up with a solution. That I now know the perfect way to discipline my kids without being too overbearing or too gentle. Nope. I’m still working at it honestly. I’ve been using a timer for time outs which helps me stay focused. With two kids running around, it’s easy to get distracted so that the prisoner takes advantage of the opportunity to escape. I also have to bark a little bit, which honestly feels weird. But it works. My mother, who was an elementary school teacher told me a saying among other teachers, “you don’t smile until November.” I’m not going that hard, but I am trying (oh how much of a wimp do I feel like for even typing that) to not seem so “nice.”

And now? I’m tired. It wears me out stepping outside of myself, but I know I have to do it.