Time out – no thanks!

 - by Sarah Lipoff


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

It’s been pouring here the last couple of days and I’m a bit tired of it. When it rains like this, the only things I want to do are cook, eat, and watch movies. So, that’s all that has been happening at my house.

Really, not that exciting.

But, today, while we were all out grabbing a few things to get us through the weekend, the hubs kept the babe in the car so I could rush in and out of the grocery store to pick up the oh-so-important cheese for the wee tot. And, while cruising through the store, I heard that wonderful wail coming from an adjacent aisle. You know that wail. The one that makes every parent twitch and all non-parents crane their necks to see what in the heck is going on over there.

It was that wail.

I’ve been there. I’ve been that mommy pushing the shopping cart full of a screaming tot angry at being confined and walked up and down the aisles filled with overwhelming and overstimulating stuff she isn’t allowed to pick up, touch, or eat. So, I understand that mommy’s frustration. What I didn’t understand was what came out of that mama’s mouth, which I would rather not repeat, in such a high-pitched, shrill, and loud voice, that it made that kid cry even louder and harder, and just about everyone in ear shot to seriously cringe.

She followed it up with the classic, “do you want a time out?”

I quickly made my way to pay and got out of there.

We don’t do time out at my house. Whatever you do at yours that works is great with me. I understand that parents get stretched thin and sometimes short out. I’ve been there. I usually slink off to a quiet place to take a time out myself, because I think that’s what’s really going on. It’s not my child that is misbehaving; it is ME becoming frustrated with her behavior.

Kids throw stuff to see how it feels, they bite because they don’t have the verbal skills to express themselves properly, they cry because they aren’t sure how to use words to share… Sometimes it is hard to understand as a parent. I don’t feel having my child sit quietly for a moment in time out makes any difference. It just confuses her.

So, what do I do when my child does something she shouldn’t when she is fully aware that she is misbehaving? I ignore her for about a minute, which drives her batty. She usually follows me around crying her head off, mad that I’m not paying attention to her bad doings. Then I get down to her level, calmly explain what I don’t like about what she was doing, offer a hug, and hope some small part of her brain understands what is going on.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

But, that’s parenting, right?


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