...because we all have our motley moments!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

So simple...so effective!

So many days I feel like I'm barely treading water in this sea of motherhood, and some days I feel like I'm definitely drowning. But there are days when the stars align, all of the pieces fall into place, and I think, if only for a brief and fleeting moment, wow--maybe I'm getting the hang of this mommy thing after all.

When it comes to discipline and our two-year-old, most days I am hanging out at the bottom of the pool, but this week something changed. We had a new addition to our household: a timer. Not a digital beep...beep...beep...timer, but a ticktickticktickRIIIIIIINNNNNGGGG timer. I've used digital timers for a while now to help me keep track of, well, time, but I felt compelled to grab one of the rotary models while on a trip to Wal-Mart the other day. I believe it was divine intervention.

Time-outs are often laughable around here. I won't go into detail, but imagine those episodes of Super Nanny that involve time-outs, and it's not too far from our reality. There is something about the ticking timer, however, that has revolutionized the time-out in our household. We've used digital timers before, but most of the time we forget what's going on before the cute little beeps begin. Our son wasn't too impressed with it, either. Two days ago, we had a time-out worthy situation, and my son ran to the corner wailing. I wound the dial on our new timer, placed it on the bookshelf, and continued what I had been doing. After two minutes of high-pitched crying, a resounding RIIIIIINNNNNGGGG filled the air. My son abruptly stopped what he was doing and turned to look at me. I gave him the post-time-out talk and went into the other room. He followed me, a confused look on his face. "Mommy, time out?" He said. I responded, "Your time-out is done. The bell means it is done." He had a little conversation about the bells with himself, then seemed content to accept what had happened.

The remarkable thing happened the next day when we found ourselves in the corner again. I set the timer, he did his usual, and when the bell rang, he turned to me quietly, listened to me, and conversed with me about his actions. He then hugged me, apologized, and went off to play. Most importantly, he didn't repeat his time-out worthy behavior for the rest of the day. To quote Pam's friend Jody, "Holy Chicken Cacciatore!" This thing works!

But it doesn't just work for punishment discipline--at one point I needed our son to wait, and that is not something he is fond of doing. I set the timer, it ticked, then the bells rang. He waited. No whining, no taking matters into his own hands...he just waited. This little white plastic box of dials and gears is amazing.

So, I am happy to report that I have a new tool to use in my quest to train our son in the way he should go. Now if I could just figure out how to carry the ticking device around in my purse without attracting too much suspicious attention...

What about you? Do you have any amazing tools? I would love to hear about them!


Bryssy said...

Awesome, Rachel! My best tool for my extremely emotional girly is "the crying couch" (or chair or spot, depending on where we are). She can cry as much and as loud as she wants as long as she is on the crying couch. This as really shortened the time we spend crying over spilled milk, or toys or books. Well, most things.

I also leared early on not to argue about clothes. At all. If it doesn't match, I don't care. If it is a Snow White dress, I don't care. Even if it isn't warm enough (I take something that is) and she has to learn the consequences of her actions. This has worked extremely well - and she gets to assert her independence somewhat.

Then we are most happy, until we have to sit on the crying couch!

Liz said...

I'm also having to learn not to care about clothes with my son. This morning he wore gray sport shorts with green stripes and an orange Thomas shirt to church. It wasn't what I wanted him to wear, but I have to tell myself that it doesn't matter. Because it doesn't.
I like the timer idea. We use the one on the microwave and it has little effect. Maybe we need something ticking as well!

Rachel said...

I like the crying couch idea--we need a cooling off routine. What do you do when you're away from the house? It seems like many of our meltdowns happen in stores! ;)

I really think the ticking is the key. It's as if it reminds him that something is going on, and he is better able to stay focused.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Donna said...

Pretty much the only store I take my kids into is the grocery store. And they have FREE cookies there for children who are well-behaved...Godsend! I don't do much shopping anymore, but that's probably for the best!

Bribery works great in those situations where you don't have time-outs or crying couches available. You just have to keep your expectations reasonable and remind them of what they're earning before you go into the store. Good Luck!

Bryssy said...

I just make a crying spot! I carry a little hand-towel (a Steelers Terrible Towel, actually) and put it on the ground and there is the crying spot. And wherever we are, we just stop and use the crying spot. No need to tote the couch along!

Liz said...

You use a Terrible Towel? That is awesome.

Bryssy said...

Yes. I find it funny. I know it's lost on my kids. :-)

Rachel said...

I don't think that would be allowed in our house (the Terrible Towel is sacred around here). Maybe I could find something else though...;)

Liz said...

My friend Erica will have a stroke when she reads this. She is a huge Steelers fan. I can't wait!

Bryssy said...

Our terrible towel is not sacred. In fact, I find it to be a very unattractive shade of yellow.

I didn't really know what to do with it other than make it a instrument for dicipline. It's not really decorative, is it?

Liz said...

It's decorative when it's not football season. When it is football season, it's meant to be waved about to celebrate "victories." Don't wash it - it'll get yellow lint on EVERYTHING.