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There are NO Socks in Time-Out

By on Apr 5, 2013

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Zoe has been frequenting the time-out corner lately, a small sliver of space in the girls’ bedroom between her toddler bed and Jada’s crib. She’s instructed to stand tall and face the wall until further notice…usually 2 minute increments. There are no crayons, bouncing balls, teddy bears or other thingy-me-bobs allowed in time-out. It’s suppose to be the ultimate punishment (just shy of a hand swat) to get Zoe to be a civil tot. Well, as civil as any 2 year old tot can be.

But, what I’m finding is that despite the fact that time-out is considered a punishment, it’s the only time in which I can give a command and Zoe willingly complies without hesitation. (Insert confused Mommy face here ______ )! Sending Zoe to time-out has become the easiest part of the day!

Throw your food on the floor and refuse to clean it up; let’s take a time-out and then try again. Mishandling Baby Jada after repeated warnings; let’s re-set in time-out and come back a gentler Zoe. Throwing a tantrum because Mommy wants you to color instead of play with the iPad; Time out, time out, time out!

Zoe was in time-out so frequently that I’d stopped following her into the room and would simply call her back to the family circle after her 2 minutes were up. And each time, she’d come trotting back… all smiles.

Was time-out really turning her around? If so, why would she land back in time-out less than 1 minute later?

So the last few time-outs I made a concerted effort to “check-in” to see if Zoe had been following the rules. Now remember the restrictions mentioned above (stand in the corner, face the wall, no crayons, bouncing balls, or thingy-me-bobs). Those rules were enforced from the start, and Zoe knows them inside and out. So why is it that one check-in revealed Zoe stretched out and resting on her toddler bed? During another check-in I found her cuddling Mr. Bear! She’d had thingy-me-bobs stashed in both hands during a third go-round and was quietly singing twinkle twinkle little star. Time-out had become fun time!

Now part of me wanted her to indulge, after all, I was just looking for Zoe to be doing all of these calm Mommy approved activities outside of time-out. Yet, the disciplinarian in me wanted to make an example.

Each time that she would see me peak around the corner she would jump out of bed, or toss her bear down or hide a crayon. She’d been caught! Still, with all of this stripping away of fun stuff, Zoe remained poised. No tears, no problem…it’s just time-out.

Because Toddler-hood is even tougher without a good sock!

Finally, one last check-in revealed Zoe sucking her fingers, as she sometimes does, and holding on to her beloved sock. Yes, a sock. She loves socks. She’s always carrying one of her own or Baby Jada’s cupped snugly in the palm of her hand. Forget about a blanket Linus, a sock is much more portable and discreet. And so when I asked Zoe what was in her hand, she quickly showed me her left hand with an open palm and fingers stretched far apart. Now the right hand she wasn’t so eager to share because it revealed a pink and white sock! “There are NO socks in time-out, Zoe!!! Give me the sock because there are No socks in time-out!”

Apparently that was her breaking point because the tears flowed and the wails reached a chilling screech. I’d found her weakness. Socks!

Honestly, it felt a bit Scroogish to take a sock from a toddler. I mean, its got to be up there with taking candy from a baby (who really shouldn’t be eating candy anyway), but it was a desperate attempt to teach her about consequences. When you have bad behavior you don’t get to enjoy the things you love in life. Well…at least that applies to 99% of us, but just in case she doesn’t grow up to be in the top 1% of society, she’s gotta learn the rules. In the meantime, we gotta keep it simple. Which means…

If you throw your food on the floor, if you mishandle Baby Jada and if you throw tantrums it will land you in time-out, and there are NO socks in time-out!

What are you finding is the best take-away for your kid these days? Are you at the point where there’s nothing left to take?

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