I was relieved when my son was old enough to put him in his room for time outs. The naughty chair was not working. I was just not equipped to ignore the flagrant attempts to get my attention from the time out spot; it was a huge source of frustration for me, and I think he might have known it. Children have this innate sense of knowing just how to “get Mom and Dad’s goat!”
I mentioned in a previous post that at age 3 we incorporated “counting” into our discipline routine, apparently it tells the child just how long they have to keep up their behavior before punishment ensues. So far we have discovered that we were never going to get the boy to sit still and do his time out “like a man,” because even way way before the official diagnosis of ADHD, we knew that he was completely unable to sit still. He never had a “normal” response to spankings, he didn’t wince or cry or even change his course of action at all. All spanking did was satisfy some need to let him know that he did not get away with his misdeed just because we allowed him to do cartwheels in his naughty chair for 3 minutes. (The spanking is as satisfying as a Snicker’s bar: your teeth ache, your stomach hurts, and you’re pissed at yourself for your lack of self control!) We did find an effective discipline though. The room. The boy hated being put in his room with the door shut. Even with the lights on, and a room full of toys, it was that separation from us and not being able to garner our attention, that really made the punishment terrible… all three minutes of it.
We counted, 1,2,3, go to your room. We escorted him into his room and shut the door. Now here’s the part where my opinion is different than the opinion in most of the books that I read. The boy would rage, and pound on the door, or throw toys at the door. The books say to let them rage, the time out doesn’t start until they’re quiet. I don’t believe that my 3-year-old should be allowed to rage and damage his toys or our door. What happens when the child turns 15 and is still raging? He or she damages computer or gaming equipment in stead of Spiderman figurines, holes in walls, fights with other children? Rage is one of the few human emotions that society still expects us to stuff down and keep under control. Nope, I’m going to count to three and if you’re still raging, you get a spanking. Sorry folks if you disagree, but I’ve never heard of a person lying on a psychotherapist’s couch or climbing into a tower and gunning down students because they were spanked on rare occasions when they were completely out of control, and no other thing is going to get their attention at this point than a smack on the bottom with mom or dad’s bare hand.
Even though the book has been out for years, we had never heard of “1,2,3 Magic” until recently. We were just doing our best with what we knew. Come to find out, there’s a section devoted just to those challenging kids who rage when put into their room. The book lovingly calls them “Room Wreckers.” It suggests to remove all valuables, or special memories that may get destroyed, remove all objects that can cause junior harm & let them go to town. You gently remind them that the time out starts when they’re quiet, after they finally calm down, you set the timer like usual. The trick is that you don’t clean up after they trash the place, that only gives them the glee of getting to destroy your hard work the next time they’re put in their room. At bedtime you let them try to find their bed and sleep in it “as is.” Apparently the discomfort and disarray is a very good lesson in itself. The next day you make them clean it up, with your assistance of course. The book even includes advice for the, shall we call them, the excreters. If your child is one that decided to “teach you a lesson” and potty on the floor, he/she can do the time out in the bathroom (make sure all medicines, cleaners and poisons are childproofed), simply because it’s easier to clean up.
Footnote: This 1,2,3 method seems to work best with our child, one of my friends uses the Love and Logic method because it works with her son, and another friend uses the Nurtured Heart Approach with her son because it fits their personalities the best. Each child responds differently to discipline and training, and unfortunately we all blunder and make mistakes.