I spent many hours of my childhood sitting in timeouts as a result of one form of shenanigans or another. I'd like to say I learned from my mistakes, but that wasn't always the case. More often than not it seemed the main lesson I learned was that any misbehavior on my part would result in a few minutes of boredom while in a timeout.
My memory isn't good enough to remember what exactly was going through my head during those many timeouts, but knowing myself I'd be willing to bet is was, "Was it worth it?" Or, to give my young self even less credit, it was probably more along the lines of whether or not I should take it up a notch next time so the timeout was "worth it."
Don't take my failure to learn immediately from my mistakes as a sign of low intelligence. I was actually a very bright kid. I was well aware of the ramifications of my actions because my parents raised me right. They laid out the ground rules, explained the consequences and then enforced those rules when I broke them.
Being the smart but mischievous kid I was, I probably planned my next infraction in great detail. It's one thing to take my misbehavior up a notch to make a timeout worth it. It's a totally different thing to take it too far and land myself in the next consequence arena: A spanking.
Now the father of two young daughters, I am seeing the roles being reversed. I have been blessed with two bright and very lively girls. I see the same thought process playing out in their little minds that went through mine as a kid.
They passed the testing the boundaries stage a long time ago. We are now into the full strategic planning stage. They know exactly what the rules and consequences are. I really do believe they've taken it up a notch from the mischievous skills I once had. They know exactly how to factor in things like the time of day, how busy my wife and I are at the time and whether or not we're currently behind schedule for the day.
When their misguided activities start to reach the threshold of my patience, a good old fashioned timeout is in order. Just when I thought we were past the "timeout phase," I find myself bringing them back into the mix.
The difference now is that the timeout is more beneficial to me these days. They are so good at pushing the limit that the my frustration level is also pushed to the limit at times. A timeout allows me to gather my thoughts (and emotions) while they suffer the boredom of having to wait. In this instance, time is my friend and their initial consequence.
I have learned that the occasional timeout is quite therapeutic for all of us. These moments of de-escalation have resulted in quicker attitude adjustments and a more pleasant day for us all. This isn't really a completely new concept for me. It just happens to be one that I am learning to make special note of lately. Each and every action that leads to more enjoyable time with the family is a good idea in my book. Until next time....