Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time outs versus time ins - What the hell do I know about discipline?

We were routinely spanked growing up. Both Ben and I were spanked by our parents and we turned out just fine. Neither one of us is violent, we don't hit other people (*ahem - sushi bar incidents not included). We didn't grow up to be serial killers or abusers.


Early on, we had the discussion about discipline and I was of the firm belief that we would never, ever hit or spank our child. I was raised on the more abusive end of the discipline spectrum where verbal insults and a heavy hand were employed on a weekly basis. I know that I have a tendency to fly off the handle and go overboard in my emotions. I don't want to start with physical punishment because I am afraid of the temper that I have. I know this about myself so I know that physical punishment is not an option for me as a parent.

Of course now that I have a child, can look at his adorable face, I can't imagine ever even wanting to spank him. I can really only recall in the past 10 months one or two times that he has seriously pushed me near my limit. Not to the limit or over the limit but damn, was that limit within my eyesight. I ended up just putting my shrieking child in his crib and walking away, letting him shriek, until I was calm enough to be a loving, nurturing mama again.

Recently, Little Babes has been swiping at me and the dogs and occasionally at Ben. He does this when he's annoyed or frustrated or we have done something he does not like (like take away the remote control). Generally we say, "Don't hit. Mama doesn't hit and dada doesn't hit so you don't hit." We show him "Nice and soft." We show him on the dogs, "Pat soft." (Here I must say that spanking when a child hits has always boggled my mind. "You hit so and so, now I will spank you to show you that hitting is wrong." What kind of f-ed up logic is that?)

I know we're entering the dreaded hitting/biting phase of parenting and I am so not welcoming it or ready for it. We had our first Time In yesterday and as soon as he cried and said, "Mama!" I picked him up. Such a pushover.

I'm not a fan of Time Outs for our son because I don't think that removing him from all activity and the family is a good idea. For a little person who has already had so much taken away from him, I just don't think a Time Out sends the right message to him. "You're bad so we don't want to see you or hear you for one full minute." That just doesn't make sense to me at all.

So, blog readers (all 3 of you), any thoughts on Time Ins versus Time Outs? Anything that you've used to address hitting?


Semi-feral Mama said...

For PJ's first two years I thought - who could hit a child. In the past 14 months with two of them pushing, pushing, pushing full time, I have reached my limit more than once. I believe hitting/spanking any kind of physical punishment is wrong. I just spent 8 days with my parents being told by my father I needed to be hitting my kids.
This is so on my mind. Today I actually "spanked" Little Dude. It was done spontaneously and in anger. Stupid, stupid, stupid me.
So far my experience tells me the no spanking thing (depending on your kid and yourself) gets tougher and tougher but is absolutely the right way to go.
As for time outs versus time ins - I don't really know the actual definition.
My rule of thumb is that anything that really frightens your child is a bad idea. Especially if your child is at risk for attachment issues.
Something that upsets your child - fine. Something that feels threatening to your child - not fine.
On the other hand... my children are really poorly behaved (just ask my Dad). So clearly I am NOT the right person to give advice.

jessica said...

We do time outs. I was hesistant at first, but once we felt attachment was strong we went for it. In the beginning, one of us would sit quietly next to Mamush during the time out (or maybe this was a time in?). Sometimes we still sit with him. We never leave him in a separate room.

For us, time outs have been lifesavers at times - literally.

You may find these helpful:


Good luck!

David Leventhal said...

We have a toolbox of discipline techniques that we employ for our five kiddos - which one we use is generally determined by which kid it is, what development stage they are in & the severity of the offense. The toolbox includes both time 'outs' & time 'ins'. As a general rule, we do not use time outs for our adopted kiddos - precisely for the reasons you have mentioned. They spent enough of their lives in isolation & didn't receive what we would call optimal care early on.

Experience has taught us that our discipline framework need to be flexible & needs to be able to be changed & modified - because our kids change & modify. What works today may be totally ineffective next week - so we adapt. They are free to choose their behavior but they are not free to choose the consequences.

As our kids grow older their propensity to act in hurtful ways matures. For example, when they were 2 years old & hit someone for taking "their" toy it's because they didn’t have the capacity to properly express their sadness/frustration – so they did what they knew how to do – hit. So….at that age we work with behavior modification. However, when my 6 or 8 year old throws a fit for something similar it’s more often than not tied to a heart issue (the root issue) & so we try and focus on the heart behind the behavior (it could also be because they are exhausted/hungry/overwhelmed, etc… & we’re getting more proficient at figuring out which is which). We don’t do this perfectly or consistently – but it’s the goal.

Missy & I have repeatedly affirmed that our goal for our kids is NOT to be well-behaved & always obedient…because all that can all be achieved through fear. Obedience does not equal a heart that is compassionate / giving / sacrificial / etc… What we want is for our kids to recognize that they are not the center of the universe & that they need to not merely look out for their own interests but also for the interests of others.

Here is a really helpful website that is run by Karyn Purvis. Dr. Purvis is the director of the TCU Institute of Child Development. She has spent a lot of her time & energy developing research-based interventions for at-risk children. http://empoweredtoconnect.org/content-types/video/ We really like what she has to say – it’s real practical.

Smiths said...

This is a good one. There is a time in parenting where you realize that your kid is doing things that you need to find appropriate reactions for because there is such thing as right and wrong. At Tariku's age it's innocent. He's just wanting to tell you how he feels, not hurt anyone and I don't think any kid is capable of understanding right or wrong until they are a lot older. We never did any real disciplining until after the kids turn 2. At least. Before that it's a lot of consistancy with "no no" and explaination of why not and showing the kid what is acceptable. I'm a big believer in giving the kid the good option than just saying No all the time. So once they are old enough to know what is right and wrong I give them warnings and explain and try to get them involved in the good option and if they still do the no no I tell them they will get a time out. If they still do the no no (which they will sometimes do with that look in their eye where you know they want to see if you will really put them in time out) I will put them in time out and explain why, what time out is and that they need to sit calmly where we put them to get out. Then after they are calm and quiet in the spot we talk to them about why they are in time out and smother them with love. And make sure they know it was a bad choice, not a bad kid. It's tricky, but it's sooooo obvious which parents teach their kids right and wrong and follow through with consiquences and who doesn't. Not fun, but of vital imprortance in my book. I'll add, this is just my approach and I am not saying this will guarantee my kids will turn out well down the road, but I don't see a lot of the crazy fits and behavior probs a lot of my friends do. Good luck. It's a long, bumpy road. Try and remember to enjoy it. Oh, and I really think the kids find security in knowing there are limits to behaviors and consistancy in concequences. So important.

TraceyLeigh said...

Well I too was raised in a house where I got my butt beat on more than one occassion and I think I turned out fine. The thing with discipline is this.. you have to find what works with your kid. With Kaitlin when she was younger I spanked her and I am not ashamed to say it. WHen I felt she needed it I did. Most of my friends and family also spank or have in the past. That being said it never really worked with Kaitlin. I found early on that spanking her was not productive. The thing that worked the most for her was making her sit on the couch and watch everyone else doing things. It got her attention and she would correct whatever behavior got her in trouble. It is hard because you want to love them and never hurt them in any way. However it is your JOB as a parent to discipline them in some way. If you don't you are failing them by not preparing them for the real world. I have a friend that never disciplined her child NEVER.. if he got in trouble at school it was someone else's fault. He is now in jail for drugs.. You have to teach them that there are consequences for their actions, how you do it is something you will have to figure out for yourself. Just know that even discipline has love in it. When you become a parent you understand what your parents (at least mine) meant when they said this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.. Good luck and I wish I could tell you that this will be the hardest thing you have to decide on as a parent.. It only gets harder! But it's all worth it!