Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The 'Joy' of Time Out!

Time out has been a regular part of our disciplining arsenal for quite some time. When we first started it with the boys, they were still a little too young to get 'it.' So, we abandoned it for a little while. Then, we started to use it again when they were a little bit older (approximately 21 months). I have watched Super Nanny so I know the process well. Establish a time for the time out and if the child gets up, calmly return them to the time out area and start the time over. Continue the process until they have served their sentence. When it is over, give them a hug, tell them you love them and review the offense. In addition, have them issue appropriate apologies.

Alright, I am prepared with the knowledge to do this. When the boys would do a 'Time Out' offense, mainly hitting, we would escort them to our identified spot. In the beginning it would take 10-15 minutes to complete 1 full minute of a time out. However, the boys would eventually complete their, oh so long minute! After several focused time out efforts, the boys started to get 'it.' They now understand what time out is, where it takes place and that they have to stay their until Mommy or Daddy tell them they can get up. They also know they get a hug when it is over and that they have to pass out a sorry.

As we were starting to think that this time out thing is working, it got even better and even easier. Could that be possible? Yes, it is possible. For the boys 2nd birthday, Grandma gave them the My Tot Clock (http://www.mytotclock.com/). It's primary use is for sleep training but also has a function to provide visual cues for time out. We can set the time for the duration of time out. When a time out starts, we push the red button and the face turns red for the duration. At the end, the face turns back to yellow and the clock beeps. A few weeks after the boys birthday, we realized the minute sentence was very easy so we would mark our second year by adding a minute. Now, the duration of time out is 2 minutes. We were ready for some trouble again but hopefully the Tot Clock would help. Here is a photo of the clock from the My Tot Clock web page....
It shows a very calm child quietly serving his timeout while the face of the clock is red. Well, we were pleasantly surprised and the boys responded well to the increased time. They would watch the clock and would sit during the entire 'red face' time. Time out almost became too easy. However, it was still working! Until.......

Time out became the most fun game we have ever played... EVER!!! Andrew was this evening's offender. The offense, hitting Wesley, of course. Immediately after the blow was administered, I decide to be the Judge and Time Out warden. I verbally issue the judgement "Time Out" and begin to escort the accused to his punishment area. He responds with an innocent question "Time out?" As if he does not agree the sentence is just.

I bring the clock to the kitchen counter and anticipate spending the next 2 minutes hovering over the accused. Well, he had other plans. He stares back at me, giggles, then gets up and high tales it towards the back door. It was time to channel my inner Super Nanny and bring him calmly back to the spot and start the time over. I follow him, grab his hand and escort him back to the spot. He again sits for a few seconds, giggles and takes off!

This repeats itself several times. After one return, he make a move as if he is heading for the door so I make a move. HA HA... he faked me out and laid down. He knew he had tricked me and he found this quite amusing. I am trying to remain calm but inside I am laughing hysterically because he was so funny.

During this continuous exchange, Daddy, Wesley and Jared were also in the same room. Daddy decided the best way he could support this activity was to grab the camera. Huh? Ok, I am confident that I would have done the same thing. Here is Andrew on escape attempt number.... oh.... 25.....
And escape attempt number .... oh.... 30....
Ok Super Nanny, I am trying to stay strong! At this point, I am committed... I will win! Andrew was laughing like a wild child during this entire exchange. Jared saw how much fun Andrew and I were having playing the "Time Out Game" that he decided he wanted to join in on the fun. I am sure his little wheels were spinning trying to figure out how he could get placed into Time out and start playing with Mommy. What was his conclusion? Why hit Andrew of course!!! So, on one of Andrew's return to his starting spot, Jared pops him in the head and then immediately sits down and smiles back at me. Ohhhh you little stinker!! I can only handle one of you at a time.

I finally realize I need to change my approach. I decide that he can no longer serve his sentence in general population and needs a little solitary confinement. I take Andrew back into the guest room and place him on the floor against the wall. I turned on the clock timer, I opened the closet door and stood behind it. Yes, I am sure he knew I was still in the room but I did not want to have any interaction with me... .this was SOLITARY!!! He finished his time out in one attempt. Exhale....

As Andrew and I emerge from the guest room, he is able to reenter general population and to complete his sentence, he has to delivery his "I'm Sorry" to Wesley. Daddy, with camera still in hand, was able to catch their warm embrace. I am standing behind with clock in hand... and out of breath!
Jared did not receive any sentence for his offense. He was only trying to get into the mix of this, oh so fun, timeout! Who could blame him? I am sure from the bleacher seats, this looked like a blast.

In case you are keeping score, I think I get the point for one I may have resulted to modifying my approach but by the end (approx 30 minutes later), he served a full two minute time out!!

Take care,


  1. Awesome "I'm sorry" picture!!! And good for you to sticking with the never ending time-out. I'm sure the time you put in it will be well worth it!!!

  2. I love love love your heading picture and I am going to buy the tot clock..great story thanks


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