Saturday, September 01, 2012

Time and punishment

Time out is hard.
 Its not just hard on the kid in time out but its hard on the siblings, and the parents as well.
 I will talk about this more in a minute, but first I need to preface that "talk" with a couple of things.

Some days I wonder if I did anything right!
I feel like the kids fought worse then ever before and that I was constantly saying "Be nice to your brother.", "Don't hit your brother.", "Stop calling your brother names.", "Let your brother play with you." along with about 50 other things. 
I wonder if anything that I am saying to them is sinking in. 
I wonder if the things I teach them about Jesus throughout the week are sinking in or not. 
I wonder if they will ever show each other love again.

It is amazing to me in these times that I so easily forget how wonderful they may have been the day before. Or that more then likely the next day (or a few days later) they will all be best buds again, building forts, sharing their toys, telling each other they love each other, and giving high fives because "your the best brother ever". 
It is those days that I know I am doing something right.
Its those days that I see so much evidence of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The years tell us much that the days never knew."

I need to remember this every day. (and I get better at it each day)
I need to remember this not only on the good days but on the bad days also.
I need to remember that even though my kids were mean to each other and not very nice, that they are still learning to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Just like I am still learning every minute of every day to be the best mom I can be. 
Each day teaches all of us more and sometimes it takes A LOT of times for something to sink in.
Even though I feel like I say the same things over and over again and that they make the same mistakes over and over again, It will eventually sink in.

The key to this is being consistent. 
Consistent in all we do with them, especially as parents. 
The years that pass by us will show the evidence of all these days where we feel like a recording and where we feel like we just do the same thing over and over again. And usually, as long as we are consistent in all we do, the end result with be amazingly wonderful and totally worth it.

Life is beautiful and there is so much beauty in the simplicity of it all. 
There is beauty in the average every day to day tasks.
Our kids grow up. 
They become adults and probably will have kids of their own.
Its that simple.
The hard part is taking the time to teach them every day so that they grow up to be good people.

I have had to change my parenting over the years to fit each child. 
If I want them to grow up to be good people I need to be consistent for each of them and tailor my parenting to each one of them.
While my kids may all have the same physical mold (seriously I think we made 4 carbon copies. We get told all the time how they all look so much alike, and often get asked if 1-2 are twins and 2-3 are twins.) they don't have the same spirits or the same hearts. 
I need to fit my parenting to their individual needs (now this can open a can of worms that I will not get into, but there are rules that they all have to follow, and lessons that they all have to learn, but each kid learns differently so we teach each kid differently.)
What worked with one kid did not work with the next.
Landon and Tayton at age 18m-30m would stand in the corner when they were in time out and it worked great.
Braddoc on the other hand would scream and cry and throw a fit if I put him in the corner and so all that worked for him was going to his room.

I learn each day something new about my kids.
 And something I have discovered along the way is that just like us as adults, they like to be in control of things. 
As parents we are still teaching them things because, of course, they are too little and not "learned" enough to be in control of everything.

I pick my battles a lot with them. 
There are a lot of things that they CAN'T be in control of, simply because they are not old enough to make those decisions on their own yet. It is my job as a parent to teach them these things each day and to build them up so that one day they can make the big decisions on their own.

I let them pick out what meal they want for lunch.
I let them pick out the clothes they want to wear each day (and I don't say anything to them about it unless its Sunday and for church, or if we are going somewhere really nice.)
I let them pick out their own shoes and clothes at the store.  (we only give the big kids a set amount of money a year to buy that stuff, and after that they have to buy it with their own money. I talk about this here. )
They are also in charge of their room and I don't have any say over how dirty it gets (to an extent, no food or drink in the room. I also talk about this here.) 

And I also, to an extent, let them be in charge of their time outs.
I was on the look out for a better way to help them understand the minutes of their time outs.
We have a time out spot for them and they are not allowed to talk to anybody or do anything while they are in time out. 
For awhile we put them both in time out for their age, four minutes for a 4 year old and six minutes for a 6 year old. But in all honesty that was not really working for us because it takes Braddoc a little bit longer then 4 minutes to really calm down. 
The boys would sit in time out and ask me every 30 seconds if the time was up yet.
I wanted to find something that would be easy for them to have control over and so when I saw this wonderful 5 minute sand time at RodWorks, I was super excited.

The boys go and sit in the time out chair, turn over the timer and can watch their time fall away.
There is no more, "Mom how much more time?" "Mom is my time up yet?" or "Mooooommmmmm when can I come out?"
This is also worked amazingly with Braddoc and his autism. It gives him something to focus on and calm him down. He will even go into the time out chair and use the timer just to help himself get unstimulated. (is that a word? well it is now.)

They sit there and think about what they have done, and watch the time go by.
When they are done with the time out they have to talk to me about what they did wrong and how they can work to make it different. 
If they tell me they don't know what they thought about then I tell them to turn the timer over again, and of course usually they hurry up and tell me what they learned.
(Tayton is too little for this, so he just sits in the chair and I talk to him about what he did wrong.)

If they have done something wrong to someone else we usually role play how they can handle this in a better way. We talk about what they did wrong and trade that out for something that would have been nicer and made the situation turn out differently.
We also have a time out bench, the bench is for 2 people. If the older boys are fighting and both of them need to be in time out, then they sit on the time out bench together and have to work out together how they could treat each other better. (I will talk about this in another post.)

This time out has worked really well for us. 
The best part is, is that the boys will put themselves in time out and turn over the timer when they know they did something wrong (not every time, but a lot of the time.)
They have control over their time out and therefore, hopefully, better control over their emotions.

The years (or weeks) have showed me much that those first few days of this did not show.
The boys are learning each day about how much time outs stink. 
They learn that its not fun when their buddy is in time out for 5 minutes and they have no one to play with.
They learn that its not fun to sit in time out and not be able to play.
I learn that even though it was a HUGE pain to send them to time out over and over again for so long, for the same thing, that some days the timer only gets used once of twice. 
I learned that even though the first few days of teaching them something new were frustrating and hard, that in the end it pays off and they learn. 
Not only do they learn but they absorb it into their hearts and change.

Time outs are hard on everyone.
Being consistent is hard.
Saying and doing the same thing over and over each day is hard.

But in the end the years (or weeks) truly do tell us much that the days never knew.

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