Timeouts, that is. Or maybe it’s just the combination of focusing on lowering my stress level, his new language explosion (even if it’s still in a super secret language that only I can understand), and him finally getting old enough to understand, if only a little bit, that there can be consequences to his actions.
I don’t know, I don’t claim to know. I’m just cautiously happy, and really debated even writing this for fear of jinxing myself. But since I’m always quick to complain on here, figured I’d better balance out the bad with the good and let you all know that my toddler is less and less like a terrorist lately.
So what is my magic formula? Well, I read a little and listened a lot, and so many people reitterated the same message, “ignore the negative and praise the positive”. Now, that’s not to mean you ignore behavior that is timeout worthy, but I’ll get to that later. Remember how he was hitting his head really hard on random doors, walls, with toys and his hands? As hard as it was to not try to intervene, I took many seasoned parents’ advice and just ignored it.
As soon as he starts his caveman like behavior I just go totally Valley Girl on him and am all, like, “Whatever!” roll my eyes (okay, maybe not the best behavior to model, but it just comes so naturally), turn my head and walk away. It blows his mind. I also like to employ this Valley Girl method when he is sitting in timeout. I cross my arms and keep my eyes focused on the other side of the room, completely ignoring him, his pleas, his pulling on my pants. He gets NOTHING from me. NO acknowledgement. As a result, I’d say head bashing has decreased by a good 60%.
So, yes, let’s discus timeout. To be fair, I feel like he’s just now coming to the age where he understands what timeout is. I told a friend the other day that I feel like there is a window between 12 months and 18 months where all you can do is corral this new little beast and do your best to keep them from injuring themselves or others, but, to me, that age is just too young to really get a clear message across about timeouts and consequences.
But, let me tell you, the minute he was 18 months old, I saw a change in him. He was understanding if he wanted X, he needed to do Y. So we reinstated the timeout. He stays in it for a minute or two at most, but, like I mentioned earlier, I completely ignore him the whole time. And think since I try really hard to positively encourage him throughout the day (which can be really tedious and annoying at the grocery store… “GREAT job sitting so nice in the cart. You are SO PATIENT. GREAT job not screaming. I’m SO PROUD of you for not crying.”), he gets that I’m upset when he’s not getting any sort of attention from me for those two minutes.
And it’s not even like he’s in timeout very often. I think we’re getting to the point that sometimes the mere threat of timeout is enough. For example, was changing his diaper today, which is also known as the WWE Smackdown around here, and I had had it with his crocodile rolls, sending poop everywhere. I thought it out and eventually threatened a timeout (because, you know, you do have to follow through to be effective, and sometimes timeouts are a really inconvenient option, especially when that means I’d have to leave turdlets on the floor for the dogs to possibly eat so I could take him to the “naughty corner”). Lucky for me, the threat was enough. He magically laid still long enough for me to get the mess cleaned up and his diaper on. It was a marvelous breakthrough!
Of course, this is not to say that I’ve got it all figured out. Just to give those of you out there struggling with your own little terrorist a glimmer of hope, I guess. And really, I’m thinking more than anything this is going to be a hilarious post to reference in another 6 months when he gets really serious about this whole independent rebellion thing.
Kendall is 19 months and one week old