I always go on and on about children being individuals and not our property. But today isn’t about that, it’s about respect. The new theories about parenting say you should not punish your child in any way, but in the same time they talk about discipline.
I must say I am against any kind of punishment, but I do believe in time-outs. Sometimes we need a break from each other, the same way adults need a break from one another. Our daughter, like any kid who has never been severely punished, treats us like slaves sometimes and she even tries to manipulate us making a sad little face or trying to manufacture tears if we don’t comply. Depending on what she wants to do with us we find it funny or try to explain to her that we are more than her toys. It usually doesn’t work. I know respect sounds like a big word for her age, but our goal is to achieve mutual respect. We respect her, so she must find a way to understand that and respect us. Of course usually any kind of argument fails and she grabs the nearest thing, or something I really love and smashes it into the wall or on the floor. Well, that’s when I think we need that time-out, so I take her hand into mine and take her to her room to stay there for a few minutes (five minutes tops). She protests while going towards the room, but never cries while she is in there. In fact, what she does is: makes herself comfortable on the couch and browses one of her books until I come and get her. I probably should mention that the door isn’t locked and she can open it by herself if she wants. After five minutes I knock on the door and she greets me with the biggest smile, gives me a hug and lets me know that she understands why it was wrong to do what she did.
Now, there are two types of judgmental mothers who disagree with my method.
1. Moms who embrace the new theories say that taking your kid into his room after doing something wrong and leaving him there by himself counts as abandonment in your child’s eyes. I agree and disagree with their point of view. If my daughter would start crying and her frustration from before would only get worse because of me leaving her alone in the room, yes, then it would be totally wrong to do that. But, she doesn’t. We both enjoy our time-out and for those five minutes we miss each other and understand that what happened was just an outburst for which maybe we both feel sorry for. So, no, I am not recommending to leave your child by himself if that will hurt his feelings; also if the child gets more hurt he will never understand why that happened in the first place. I think everyone should find their own way for a time-out because believe it or not every child is different, so in my book general opinions are just bullshit.
2. Moms who totally agree with what I did, but who can’t understand why when I go to her I pretend everything is fine again. In their opinion I should show her that I am still upset and force her to apologize. That’s another thing I don’t understand. Well, if we both had some minutes to calm down, why should I start again something that has already been consummated. By sending her to her room I already made a statement that she understands, so why should I still be upset with her if the only thing we want to do is smile and hug each other again?
I for one know that my beliefs about raising a child are different than most mothers and frankly that doesn’t bother me one bit. As long as me and my daughter are both happy, as long as I don’t read fear into her eyes thinking that I am going to punish her, as long as she shows me that she needed that break too, but she didn’t know how to tell me otherwise, I really don’t care about outside opinions. In my book, general theories and unasked for advice is just an impediment to create your own unique relationship with your child. Every child is different, every mother is different and nothing can prove otherwise. So here is an unasked for advice from me: be happy, hug each other and don’t force your kid into doing anything. Most probably he will thank you for that later.