A toddler’s discipline

Ankle Biter: 05-31-09I know it’s part of the secret pact I signed when I made the choice to be a father.  It’s one of those “it hurts me more than it hurts you” type of deals.  

It’s funny that I write that…my dad used to say that to me before giving me the strap when I was a kid (it was a different time then…I’ve got no ill will or anything).  I never really believed him until now, though.  It’s a HORRIBLE thing to have to discipline your child.  To see the sad face, the tears, the hurt…BAH!  It sucks.

So when both The Ex and the Ankle Biter’s babysitter told me this week that he’s been having tantrums lately, I listened with butterflies in my stomach.  I mean, I can be strict when I want to be but at the heart of it all I’m just a big softie when it comes to my kids.  I give in probably a LOT more than I should.


I got a call from The Ex yesterday asking how Ankle Biter had been doing.  And since picking him up after work on Friday, he and I had been having an awesome weekend (as is normally the case).  She thought that maybe he had been coming down with a cold or something since he had been cranky much of the week.

I thought back to Monday and Wednesday nights when I had him for supper…and he had been great with me.  So I was wondering if maybe I was doing something differently, something better that the others weren’t doing.  Were my parenting superskills truly coming into play?  Maybe I was really JUST THAT AWESOME!?!?!?!

Visiting the grandparents: 05-30-09


I got a first-hand taste of “Tantrum City” this morning.  And if I can be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how to deal with it.

The Ex had told me that he had gotten a few “time outs” over the past couple of weeks.  What I hadn’t asked, though, was HOW, exactly, he was getting those “time outs”.

So I turned to Twitter (yay social media!) and asked the following:

  • At 2 1/2 years old, how long should a “time out” be? Five minutes?  Ten minutes?
  • What, exactly, should the “time out” contain?  Sitting in the corner? Not going outside? No toys? No TV? 

Thankfully, some more knowledgable people responded:

@Momma_Sunshine (swoon) replied first:

momma sunshine

Okay…that makes perfect sense, right?  Then came in a few more tweets on the subject:

jen kts questbad mummy

So there you have it.  It looks like the “minutes = years” rule is what I should be following.

And that’s exactly what I did.  I wasn’t mad…I wasn’t forceful…I even sat close by so he didn’t think I had abandoned him.  But for 2.5 minutes, it was quiet.

I hated every second.

We were originally scheduled to go outside when the tantrum took place.  After a few more minutes of silence as he watched television, he eventually turned to me and smiled.  

I, of course, smiled right back and gave him a big hug.  We went outside and I’m pretty sure that NO lesson was learned (lol)…but at least I did what I needed to do as his father.

A future Jesse James? 05-31-09
Man vs. Wild: toddler edition (05-31-09)
Man vs. Wild: toddler edition (05-31-09)

When we came back in, all had been forgiven.  I didn’t have any more tantrums to worry about…he was on his best behavior.  In fact, the only thing that I had to concern myself with was his newfound ability to MUG for photographs…just like his old man.

My son, the zombie: 05-31-09
My zombie son: 05-31-09
Well...if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em!! 05-31-09
Well...if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em!! 05-31-09

Am I proud of this new accomplishment?  Heh…YOU be the judge.


14 thoughts on “A toddler’s discipline

  1. I agree with the minutes=age thing. I try that with my almost three year old daughter and she just keeps trying to get back up again. I’ve always heard that after discipline that you are supposed to hug them and tell them you love them. Something about discipline+love that makes you authoritative not authoritarian. I think he did get the message, and that it sets it up so that the next time he needs a time out, he knows the ropes. Funny how in our modern times we can get parenting advice in real time on Twitter! That just makes me smile and giggle!

    Awesome pictures! I’m glad you had a great weekend with your little one. I love your blog and I am so excited for you and momma sunshine!

  2. Nicely done CBG. So glad you consulted with the “experts”. Yay Twitter!

    I bet you even stop and ask for directions too, don’t you? 😉

    Btw, I’ve always used “the stairs” for time-outs. It removes them from the area and is pretty boring but you can still keep an eye out.

  3. Top work. And I agree with the minute = years equation.

    And I found it hard too, but if your son is anything like mine he will accept it and move on. My boy even suggested himself that time out/naughty step was appropriate.

  4. Way to go CBG!!! I hate having to discipline too. It is horrible but you know what is even worse . . . not doing anything. Kids want and need rules and boundries. Good job Daddy!

  5. I can imagine it is hard to enforce the rules. So this is what I have to look forward to in a couple of years? Love the pics of you two mugging for the camera.

  6. Erin — I appreciate the kind words, Erin. Thank you! And yes, it’s fantastic that something like Twitter can help…but that, I think, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how social media can be used. I’m very fortunate to now have this network at my disposal…and when it comes to parenting tips, I’m definitely going to use it. 🙂

    Mindy — LOL…I don’t normally stop for directions because I either know exactly where I’m going or I’ve printed off a Google-map. But yes…if I’m lost…I’ll ask. Heh.

    SingleParentDad — Yeah, I’m sure he’ll accept it on a go-forward basis. The problem is just “in the moment”…when you see their face. That’s just the worst.

    Kris — You’re 100% right…boundaries need to be set. The problem I’m starting to see is that he’s starting to use the word “no” too much because he knows exactly what it means (lol).

    Bobbi — LOL…I’m sure you’ll have MUCH MORE to look forward to. This is only the beginning. Heh.

  7. I’m not sure there’s any magic formula for that…. Some kids respond to time outs, some respond to a firm voice, and some don’t respond to anything. But so long as you establish now that you won’t tolerate temper tantrums, I really think that’s the most important thing.

  8. Great pictures!

    I use to follow the age=minutes rule…it is has evolved to days instead of minutes. Days of no cell phone, internet and TV true punishment for the modern kid 🙂

  9. Hey CBG,

    My son is 19 months and I have tried the time outs but he doesn’t stay in one spot! Maybe he a bit young. I literally tried putting him back on the step 10 times but he doesn’t get the idea!!

  10. He’s so freakin’ cute. I can see where that would be hard to resist!!

    He isn’t going to remember this Todd. Most tantrums take on a life of their own and scares the holy moses out of kids. None of us likes to be out of control. This discipline is teaching him that everything will be ok.

    You did good man.

  11. I go by the minutes=age thing. At 2 I just picked a chair away from everything and made him sit in it for 2 minutes. At 3, I would send him to the chair first. During a particularly troublesome period of time-outs he would have to put his nose in a corner for the designated time (he was 3 during this). Now that his fits are less frequent, I’ve returned him to having to sit in the chair.

    I use the oven timer or microwave, timer, too. That way the time is out of my hands, it takes it from being up to Mama to let him out of his chair, to being up to time itself. He now knows that when he hears the beep that time is up, he can get up and come apologize for whatever behavior he got in trouble for. I do occasionally have to add a minute if the time is up and he’s behaving worse than he was before. That’s my rule, you’re not getting out of trouble if you’re still doing what got you into trouble in the first place.

    It works well for us, though, and I’ve got an (overall) well-behaved little boy as a result.

  12. Great Job! Disciplining a child is a great way to show them you care. Children make mistakes and we have to show them that it’s alright to make them and all of our choices comes with consequence. The sooner they learn these lessons the better they will be for it. Nice work.

  13. Hi-I’m new to your blog, but I just made a major breakthrough with my 2 1/2 year old when it comes to time out and I thought even though I’m a little behind in responding, I would share!

    My daughter Ella is on average a really calm, mellow kid and most of the time reminding her that what’s she’s doing is not ok or whatever does the trick..but sometimes, she makes it all the way to a time out. I use this chair that sits kind of out of the way of all the fun stuff in our house and like most of the people that have commented, I don’t keep her there longer than 2-3 minutes, but the magic happens once I go to get her out.

    The first thing I do is ask her why she was in a time out and once we’ve talked about that, I stress that she chose to get a time out when she chose whatever behavior it was that got her there. And I remind her that she can choose to have good behavior so she can spend her time doing fun stuff with Mama and not in time out. And then she tells the time out chair that she does NOT want to sit in it anymore..which sounds silly, I know, but for whatever reason it reinforces that she’s in control of her choices, whether they are good or bad.

    Now, granted, that may be way too much talking for your kid (Ella is a TALKER) but at the end of the day, I figure-what’s the point of punishment if it doesn’t help them to make the right choice the next time? And by showing our kids that they are in control of what path they take, I think it really empowers them and makes them feel good about good choices.

    Huh-I wonder where she gets the talking thing from?? 🙂

  14. Sean — I think you’re absolutely right. That’s something that The Ex and I try to be on the same page about…if he whines for something or throws a tantrum, we won’t tolerate it or give in to what he wants simply to appease him. It’s really the only way he’ll learn.

    Laura — LOL…I was grounded almost my entire senior year in high school. I know what’s in store for me…I’m just hoping it’s not quite so bad.

    Saba — That’s what I was thinking, too…that regardless of what I was doing, that he really wasn’t getting it. I think, though, through repetition…it’ll eventually sink in that we’re doing something he does NOT want to do.

    T — Thanks, my dear. I’m just doing the best I can, y’know? Hopefully that’s enough.

    Ashley — I think the timer thing is a good idea. I’ll definitely give that a try next time. Thanks!

    SingleParentPlus2 — I appreciate the kudos, thanks!

    Kelli — I very much appreciate your comments, Kelli. Where Ankle Biter is still not talking in sentences yet, it’s a little hard (at least right now) to do the whole “do you know why you were in time out?” scenario…although it’s absolutely one I plan to follow through on once he’s old enough.

    To me, it’s very much like being an adult….you need to recognize that the choices you make have consequences and then you (hopefully) learn from your mistakes. It’s really no different for a child…it’s just on a slightly different playing field.

    I think you’re doing a picture-perfect job of disciplining your child. It’s really the best way to help them learn.

    Thanks again for commenting!

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