When Time Out’s Stop Working
We have a crazily clingy three year old. I don’t know exactly when the transition happened. I know it had something to do with when I started working even though my shifts were at night and he was asleep when I was out of the house. He also started pre-school in September for the first time, but he LOVES it. He absolutely LOVES it. When he first started going he NEVER wanted to come home. I was the Mum at the end of the day who’s child wasn’t bothered to see her arrive, would run off because he didn’t want to leave, and although it upset me a little I was really pleased that he loved it there.
Whether it’s the combined people in his life now instead of just his Dad and my rules, he seems to have become wild and uncontrollable. It’s impossible to get his attention sometimes unless you raise your voice, but if he thinks for one moment that you’re shouting at him (I’ve never been a shouter) then he is heartbroken and sobs until you apologise for shouting and give him lots of cuddles.
Yesterday morning he came down from playing in his room with Eden screaming at her, full on screaming, it was difficult to decipher what he was saying at first but then I figured it out. ‘I want Eden to play with me’. Eden had run in seconds prior to cuddle me, for what seemed like safety, she was obviously not wanting to play with the screaming child as that didn’t seem like a fun idea to her. Who can blame her?
We don’t do them often anymore as we don’t really seem to have much need but I put Judah on time out to calm down, so he sat on the bottom step of the stairs, I could still see him, and I explained that once he calmed down he could come and have a cuddle.
This was a disaster. It resulted in an hour of ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy’, ‘Mummy,’ ‘I’ve calmed down’, he was pretty much shouting this though. I said no baby, that’s not calm, you just need to be able to be quiet a moment. I had long given up on the ideas of a three minutes time out, I just would settle for a few seconds silence. I’m surprised he had time to breathe. He was incessant. After a few minutes Daddy tried to speak to him about calming down, well then it just became ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Daddy’, I was determined that seeing as he wasn’t listening we couldn’t give in. Maybe we need a new approach in future and a lovely lady on twitter was giving me some tips and ideas, but I was not going to give in this time, he had to just be silent, even for a second and we would welcome him back with open arms.
I have to explain at this time, at no point was he hysterical. He was not particularly unhappy, he just refused to acknowledge the concept of being quiet a minute. To be honest, as I think about it now, it reminds me of his Dad when we row. He doesn’t know when to leave things and always thinks he can talk his way out of any situation when sometimes all I want is a little bit of space. This is what Judah was doing, he was trying to barter his way off the step rather than listening to the brief of a few seconds silence resulted in him coming back for cuddles anyway.
It completely wore me down, I was literally holding my fingers in my ears, I could feel the anxiety in me rising (I’ve been struggling with anxiety recently if you’re not a regular reader of this blog). I knew we had to see it through. Sometimes I just have to go with my gut, I wasn’t deliberately being stubborn to prove a point, it just felt like he had to understand, and I wasn’t helping him if I gave in.
I’ll be honest, I felt like he was breaking me, obviously this isn’t his fault, he’s just a child, but I just thought this is too hard with my anxiety issues. I was almost wishing deafness upon myself. I wanted to start drinking. I needed distracting. James had gone off to clean out the fridge, he decided it was a nicer alternative than listening to Judah’s relentless noise. Yep, it was really that bad.
Anyway, after about an hour, he was silent for about 10 seconds to be honest and I called him back in, he wasn’t upset in any way. You’d think after going on and on and on (and on) for an hour, he’d be hysterical, but he was cool as a cucumber. I just feel like this approach is no longer going to work for him. Obviously, I don’t want him to be upset, he just has a lot longer capacity for being relentless and providing incessant noise than I have the ability to withstand it.
Any suggestions are massively appreciated. I’ve had a few, I’m not sure which approach will work best. Maybe, we’ll need to try a few, maybe we should suck it up and carry on with time outs. Any thoughts? Comments? They’re hugely appreciated and the sooner we find an approach we can be consistent with the better.
Thanks for listening to my ramble.