Bubba likes butts. Today he spent much of the morning pushing butts…both literally and figuratively.
And by butts, I mean buttons, of course.
His favorite “butt” to push is the TV power button because of the extreme reaction he gets out of Chica. Every. Single. Time. Today his fascination with the butt gave me lots of chances to practice disciplining with peace. I had begun to draft in my head a how-to post about timeout for toddlers when my strategy all of the sudden became obsolete:
He can now open doors. Ugh. A facebook friend wrote recently that this was her “least favorite milestone.” Agreed.
But since I fear that my mom may stop speaking to me if I don’t hurry up and write something new, and my only other idea for a post is concerning my family’s recent fascination with bow ties, I guess I’ll just carry on with my toddler time out how-to.
Except I probably will have to call it something more like, “How to Discipline Your Toddler During the Four Days After They Learn To Converse But Before They Learn To Escape Closed Doors.” I’m still not sure what makes me think I have the authority to post on this subject, but here goes anyway…
I’ve decided that disciplining Bubba started with him seeing Chica face consequences. For about the past month, whenever she was punished, he took notice. “Sister crying,” or “Chica bed.” As if to say, “Ohhhh….she’s not happy. She got sent to her room.” Something about his reaction made me realize that he was connecting, in a very small way, her behavior to her consequences, and then her reaction. His observations made me realize that maybe the same might work for him. And for about four days, it did. Today it went like this…
Chica: Moooooooooom! Bubba turned the TV off again.
Me: Ok, coming.
Bubba: (Hops back into the chair to make himself look a little less guilty.)
Me: Bubba, Chica doesn’t like it when you turn the TV off. It makes her sad. If you push the button again, you will have to go to your room. Bubba doesn’t want that to happen.
Five minutes later…
Chica: Moooooooooooooooooooom! Bubba turned the TV off AGAIN!
Me: Ok. Coming.
Bubba: (Rushes to the chair again.)
Me: (Carrying Bubba upstairs.) Bubba, you made a bad choice. It makes Chica sad when you push the button and turn the TV off. You have to have time out in your room because you didn’t obey Mommy.
Bubba: Bed. Bubba, Bed.
Me: Yes. Bubba bed.
Bubba: (He didn’t stay on the bed, but he did stay in the room with the door shut and miraculously didn’t cry.)
Me: (Rushes around to get lots of jobs done.)
Five-ish minutes later…
Me: Bubba, sit down on the floor, and look at me. Tell Mommy why you had to be on your bed for timeout.
Bubba: Butt. TV. On.
Me: Yes. Bubba pushed the button on the TV and it turned it off. This makes Chica sad because she can’t watch her movie.
Bubba: Chica sad.
Me: You need to tell Mommy what you are sorry for.
Bubba: I sorry. TV. Butt.
Me: I forgive you Bubba. I love you.
Bubba: (Kisses me once on the lips and once on the shoulder. Not sure what the shoulder is about these days??)
Me: Bubba, go tell Sister you are sorry.
Bubba: I sorry. TV. Butt.
Chica: I forgive you Bubba.
We went through this exact same script at least once or twice more until he was all of a sudden tall enough to open the door for the first time. You should have seen his thrilled, aren’t-I-so-smart grin when he greeted me in the kitchen. He just couldn’t grasp why Mommy wasn’t quite so thrilled.
I’m not sure timeout has the same effect when he can let himself out but lacks the self-control to keep himself in. Or maybe the self-control is the next step that we are ready to work on now. Nevertheless, here’s what I tried to follow and what seemed to work for those four short days…
1. Give a clear warning. “If you do ___________ again, then I will put you in your room in timeout.”
2. Follow through with the consequence right away.
3. As you are moving to the timeout spot, explain why they are going there. “You have to sit on your bed because you did not obey. You _____________ when Mommy told you not to.”
4. Leave the room.
5. After a few minutes, come back and ask why they are in timeout.
6. Explain, in simple language, why the choice was a bad choice. “When you did _________, it made _______ feel ______________.” Or, “____________ was dangerous because ____________.”
7. Ask them to apologize. “I’m sorry for _____________.”
8. Forgive them. Hug and kiss.
9. If someone else was affected, make them apologize to that person too.
I pretty much follow this same pattern still with Chica, only adding the question, “What better choices do you plan to make next time in this situation?” Today I had to go through this with her when she called Bubba a, “Little rat,” and then lied about what she really said.
She’s usually pretty good at getting along with Bubba, but I guess today he had just pushed her butt one too many times. Can’t say I blame her.
Image: Power Button (178/365) © Jim Murphy | Flickr Creative Commons