Some days my daughter is a "nightmare dressed like a daydream." Yes, I just quoted Taylor Swift. Her lyrics really spoke to me this one particular day.
It was a Saturday and over the course of three hours, Grace had on five occasions deliberately do what I told her not to do two extra times with a smirk on her face. She was just over 26 months old. and she smirks now. A couple of the things were minor and I chalked it up to her being really excited at gymnastics with her friends. Then, there were unforgivable and inexcusable behavior.:
First, I told her not to clean the Costco shopping cart with her tongue even if it is sweet.
Second, I told her not to suck on the Costco seat belt in the shopping cart.
Third, I told her not to step on her puzzle, pretend to be skating, and proceed to nearly wipe out on the coffee table.
The first and second things were just gross, The third thing was starting to get dangerous. Each time, I told her don't do ___ because ___. I was logical and I explained the poor behavior to her that need to be corrected. By the third time, I had raised my voice, my blood pressure had gone up, and I was so mad I was holding back tears. (Don't you just hate it when you are so mad you start to cry?!)
I knew I wanted to give her a timeout but honestly I hadn't given it much thought and I didn't really know how to do it. After all, I didn't want to scar her for life! I remember reading some where that the length of time is a minute for every year old.
I did some quick thinking at the heat of the moment and decided I need to put her in a timeout spot she wouldn't associate negative feelings with. So, her bedroom, bathroom, and craft area were out. I also need to put her some where safe and uninteresting. A couple more areas of the house was out. I ended up putting her in front of the side door of the house because I ran out of options and too much time is passing. I told her she needs to listen to me and she needs to think about her actions.
What I didn't tell her was to stay put. She followed me to the kitchen. I brought her back and told her to stand there and think. She kept peeking out and then came to me. I put her back and told her to stand there and think about her actions and she needs to listen to me. She burst into tears. I felt like some one was stabbing my heart with a sharp spoon.
The whole timeout didn't last long. I told her she needs to listen to me because I love her and only want what is best for her. I don't want her to hurt herself and I will forever love her. We hugged for a long time and she was on her best behavior for the rest of the day. She was also very clingy and wanted to hold my hand all the time. She followed me around and hugged my legs when I was cooking dinner. I felt so awful. I tried to look strong but when my partner came home, I cried in the bedroom for 15 minutes. I felt awful for the rest of the day too.
Deep down, I knew I had to nip poor behavior right away but it was not easy. She was a perfect angel the next day and stopped immediately when I told her not to do something. I still felt like crap. This whole timeout thing had a longer lasting effect on me than on her.