Time out – no thanks!


© 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?


6 thoughts on “Time out – no thanks!

  1. Isn’t that like a time out? In a time out…the child sits/stands somewhere while you ignore them for a few minutes. Then give a quick explanation and reassure them that you still love them. Same thing. I do agree with you that a frustrated mother yelling at a child does NOT help a situation when a child is angry or sad. If a child knows the consequences then it should never get that far. Mommy said “no”…the end! If you test me then you know what will come next (not spanking as I do not believe in hitting anyone). Next will be a consequence fir for the situation….and ALWAYS follow through with what you say!

  2. I guess you could say I do a modified time out. Attempting to put my tot in a time out spot would take more time than picking a bushel of cherries. I jump right to redirecting behavior, and if that doesn’t work, then the big cold shoulder is given.


    Yeah, no spanking (ever) in my house.

  3. Ahh, the naivette! If you do come to the point where you need some creative ideas besides T/O for discipline you should definately check out Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel. I have just found this book and wish I’d had it years ago.
    Just remember every child is different-I don’t believe in ‘timeout’ either but it causes my 2yo to calm down and then hop up a new person, so I use it. Please do not judge another mama:)

  4. I do something similar. While we do not call it time out, I do say something along the lines of “it is time for you to go to your room until you are ready to be nice and use your words” Sometimes, it takes 30 minutes or longer. Sometimes the kids are only in their rooms for a few seconds. We then talk it out and things are great.

    So far, we’ve only had ONE melt down in public and my kids are 3 and 5 years old. I. Know! It all boils down to great luck and amazing bribes. Bwahahahah

    Also this line “…..isn’t allowed to pick up, touch, or eat.”

    While we are in ANY store we always give the kids items that can’t be damaged or items that we do plan to purchase that still can’t be completely destroyed….They play, and touch and even used to mouth the stuff. And we always brought yummy snacks like apple slices, carrot sticks, or Cheerio’s.

  5. I love your comment, Rebecca! I am so glad you’ve found a solution that really works for your family – and it sounds like something I’ll definitely be trying out (once my wee tot has a little more understanding of things )!

    And, I’m right on board with the bribes, too! I’ve let the babe bring the most amazing things into the grocery store to keep her occupied. The other day, it was her rain boot!

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