In the late 80s, Mike and I attended a Discipline Them, Love Them conference. The author, Betty N. Chase, spoke from a book she had written with proven steps to help parents use Biblical principles in helping grow self-esteem in their children while teaching life-long skills and learning lessons. With better parent-child relationships the goal.
We signed up for the conference with our boys in mind. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. She spoke about games and chores and spanking. Consequences and time-out and boundaries, plus a lot more. During a break I had the opportunity to meet her and ask a question that seemed unique to me, “we have two boys. The oldest is non-verbal and very low functioning. The other is ‘normal’. How do I use the strategies on both boys?” Her answer wasn’t profound but helped me tremendously. “Your boys may be as different as night and day but so are most siblings. Find what works for each and put that in your toolbox.” She gave me permission to parent them differently and not pressure myself to compare Jacob and Josh.
Josh was easy to discipline. I felt like he tried to be the ‘perfect’ child because he saw the constant challenges with his brother. Of course, he wasn’t perfect but he understood consequences clearly. It seemed with Jacob that the ‘if you do this, that will happen’ worked occasionally. But more often, no matter the consequence, he wasn’t phased.
Discipline with Jacob is just different. He hasn’t told a lie. Or, stayed out past his curfew. The thing that gets him in the most trouble would be his expectations. And the behavior that occurs when things are not going his way. Those times when he slams the laptop shut when I’m in the middle of something. Grabs my arm when I’m slicing vegetables. Pulls me from a phone meeting to his room. His demands of ‘drop whatever you are doing’ and ‘do what I want right now’, often lead to time out. I know, Time Out? He’s forty years old, how could time out possibly be the chosen tool?
Some kids do well with time out. Almost a welcomed respite to slow their minds and bodies down. Screenshot below is a prime example of him chilling when he was having trouble regulating his behavior.
Over 30 years ago we were at a family gathering and my niece, Natalie, got in trouble and was told to ‘go stand in the corner’. That was time-out before parents called it such. As she pouted and tried her best to cry crocodile tears, her great-grandmother thought she looked so cute that she wanted to take her picture. Yes, she did. “Natalie, turn around and smile!” That time-out sort of lost its effectiveness!!
Another time in more recent years, our youngest granddaughter was staying with us. Her parents had suggested a time-out if she didn’t obey. I don’t recall the offense but needed her to understand she had to do as asked. I placed a small children’s chair in the hallway, explained the why, and told her she had to sit there until I came back. In less than 5 seconds, “NANNIE, you have really hurt my feelings!” “NANNIE, I don’t like it here.” “NAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNIIIIEE!” It was super hard to let time-out play out like it was supposed to for that little angel!
Time-out has worked fairly well for Jacob. Sad to say, we have to use it more often than I like because his skill of waiting doesn’t exist. I can be stirring spaghetti sauce, replying to a text, watching TV, or doing a thousand other things and he will come and get me to do something for him. It is often something that may have already been done multiple times that day. Demanding I drop whatever I’m doing is his M.O. Demanding as in, will not leave me alone until I am complying with his command. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. Sometimes I don’t want to because I already have!
Unfortunately, sometimes it means he has to go to his room, find something else to do, so his focus shifts and he lets up. When his patience has run out and mine has run thin. That is often when a time-out is next.
I’ve not escorted him to his room and said, “Jacob, turn around and smile!” I’m not joking around and he isn’t either. Actually, he is mad! It’s hard to admit, but sometimes, my heart, my feelings, and even my arms are bruised in the process. I am bothered that I have to enforce and he is bothered that he isn’t getting his way. Probably, his feelings have been hurt in the heat of the ‘battle’ as well.
But, I know for a fact, he likes it in his room. Loves it. He just doesn’t love that I didn’t respond appropriately to his, “I want it NOW!” When kids that don’t get their way, well they fuss. And he can certainly put up a fuss to rival the pros.
Being home for getting close to four months, translates to more demands with more time-outs. Some days I get bummed about it and frustrated that he can’t practice patience.
And here he is this past Monday. He could not figure out what he wanted to eat or to watch or listen to, etc. He was most irritable and unhappy. I let him get the best of me. Exasperated, his relentless demands called for the two of us to be separated!!
Then I heard him in his room singing and realized it was actually what he needed.
And what I needed, too. Somebody, please put me in time-out!!