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No place for time out!

It had been a long day; a really long day. We had traveled to Columbus for the weekend. There had been a lot of excitement, a lot of go-go-go without the needed compensatory rest. To top it off, it was bedtime and we were still traveling. We were hovering in Columbus waiting to pick up my mother-in-law from the airport. So off to Meijer’s we went to waste some time and stretch our legs.

As we were “racing” in the carts – an activity of boys versus girls, or Mommy/Ethan versus Daddy/Audrey, when we need enticement for both reluctant, independent children to ride in the carts – Audrey saw a claw toy that she felt she just “had to have!”  She had been helping her father recently and they had used tools such as pliers to pick something up from a tight spot and Audrey felt that this claw toy was “just like daddy’s” and she could use it to “pick up stuff.” I told her we would think about the purchase for now and discuss it as we continued on through the store.

Tired, over stimulated, and yes, perhaps, somewhat spoiled, Audrey started to throw a fit in the store when I moved on. This fit quickly escalated into time out right there in the store, and then more. She escalated past that technique and moved into her father carrying her kicking and screaming out of the store for time out in the car while mommy and brother finished shopping. Yes, poor Jeff was THAT GUY, with the daughter yelling “No Daddy, put me down, I want Mommy!”

By the time I reached the car with Ethan, Audrey had calmed down and apologized to her father. We discussed what happened and headed toward the airport. Not 5 minutes into the drive she started acting up again. “Do you need another time out Audrey?” asked her father as a warning. “You can’t daddy, you have no place to put me in time out” was her reply as she continued to kick and scream.

Hrmph! She actually thought that she could get away with her temper tantrum because we were driving and had no place for time out. So, Jeff asked me calmly to pull over in the Kohl’s parking lot we were passing. (Did I mention earlier that it was past bedtime and about 930 at night at this time?) Audrey was removed from her car seat and sat on the curb of the empty parking lot. Jeff returned to my car window and we engrossed ourselves in our own conversation as we watched her carefully from the corner of our eyes. She regained control after a few minutes and asked if she could please return to her seat. She wiped her tears, telling us she was all done, and said sorry for having a “tenpur tentrum.”

Although we are still dealing with the temper tantrums, she is not using the line, “But you have no where to put me in time out!”

Teaching your child self control tips:

  • Younger children often respond better to distraction, providing them with age appropriate stimulation.
  • Once your child has reached the age of 18-24 months then the process of time out becomes more meaningful. The goal of time out is to remove the child from the situation and give them a chance to calm down and refocus.
  • During a temper tantrum try to stay calm and use a firm, matter-of-fact voice. Get down on your child’s level and explain that their behavior ABC is unacceptable and the consequence is XYZ.
  • Stick to your consequences and do not give in.
  • Model self control and problem solving skills for your children, and if you slip up, acknowledge your own inappropriate behavior and your consequences.

How do you handle discipline and/or temper tantrums in public?

What antics have your children challenged you with?

The reasons that the parking lot time out works for us with Audrey are:

1.)    Audrey is not a runner.  She does not take off from us in anger, fun, or randomly.

2.)    Audrey seems to be able to reason things out quite a bit and can relate things once she calms down.

One thing that I remind myself is that bad behavior is often a result of hunger, fatigue, over stimulation or under stimulation. If I try to avoid those circumstances then we might have a better time. And as my mom used to say to me, “My job as your mother is to teach you how to work in society, follow the rules, and to be a good friend.”

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