Discipline…now there is a loaded topic. I’m not sure I know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with time outs. My husband and I have used time outs since our girls turned two. It took some doing, but it caught on with Cricket and Buzzy Bee in that it helped point out to them when a particular behavior was…less than standard, shall we say. Cricket used to bite a lot and she doesn’t any more and that is a direct result of our use of time outs.
Time outs worked great for us. Now, though I’m starting to wonder if I might…well, fine tune my use of them. I don’t think I’ll get rid of them entirely. I’m not a parent who believes time outs are a horrible thing to do to a kid. Really, the way some folks talk about it you’d think I was putting them in solitary confinement for days. No, they’re just off to the side taking a break for a few. And besides, all actions have consequences. Sometimes we parents need to be the consequences so that “Buzzy Bee, you just crossed the street without looking both ways. Time out.” doesn’t become “Buzzy Bee, you were just hit by a car because you crossed the street without looking both ways” Sometimes I need to be the consequences. This is how it is.
Still, my kids are almost four now. They can understand a lot more. Their behavior is becoming more complex. Cricket in particular can become Rage Child quickly (“Cricket, it’s time to wash hands for dinner,” “NO, I DON’T WANT TO!!!”) Plus, I’m doing this whole mindfulness thing with them. Added into that is my own health: I have a pinched nerve and arthritis in my neck. I can’t really put a reluctant 40 pound child in time out if they don’t want to go.
Necessity is the mother of invention, however, so I’ve started exploring different ways to, well, redirect my kids. I grabbed an old jelly jar I’d saved in my craft closet and filled it with water, then added beads and glitter to the water. What follows is a very common mindfulness game for kids: shake the jar up. Observe what happens to the contents when the jar is shaking. What about when it’s still? Do you feel like your mind, too, settles slowly like the glitter the more you sit still?
Anyway, yesterday when Cricket went all Rage Face on me, I grabbed the jar, shook it and had her watch it. In fact, we both watched it. Then I repeated what I’d asked her to do and she and I were much calmer working out what needed to happen.
I’ve also started using Susan Kaiser Greenland’s “Sound in Space” game at bed time when the girls won’t quiet down. Sound in Space is a great game for this age – just grab a tuning fork, xylophone or something else that will make a sustained sound, fading out over time. Ya know, grab that gong that’s down in the basement gathering dust! Anyway, the children close their eyes, I make the sound, then they open their eyes and raise their hands when they can no longer hear the sound.
Long story short, when they get rowdy at bedtime, I sound the tone. They quiet down and listen. Then I ask them to be this quiet until they fall asleep.
I have no idea if using mindfulness to correct my kids behavior is a good idea. Will they get a negative association? Will it backfire on me? I don’t know, but I’m kinda going with it for now. We’ll see where it leads.