If you’ve read my posts on timeouts here and here, you know that we typically do timeouts on the bed. Our ultimate goal in doing so is to isolate the offending child with the idea that isolation takes away the privilege of social interaction and allows time for contemplation. Essentially, when the child sits by himself, he’s more likely to think about what he did wrong and find a repentant heart.
As important as these ideas are, it’s also important to realize when our usual tactics aren’t working. It occurred to me recently that my boys aren’t thinking about what they did wrong when they sat on their beds. They were merely waiting me out.
The Ezzos would agree with me that any discipline measure needs to inflict a bit of pain to be effective. And I don’t mean physical pain. I simply mean affecting kids in a way that is important to them. With William, timeouts on the bed do inflict pain in that he’s a very social being. It’s difficult for him to be alone. With Lucas, it got to the point where he would twiddle his thumbs just waiting for his timeout to be over. He wasn’t disobeying. He just didn’t seem to care.
So I came up with a new method. I now require them to stand in a corner with their foreheads on the wall or door. It’s surprisingly effective. They are somewhat isolated in that they can’t look at us or engage with us in any way. We have this little alcove in our home that leads to the garage door. It’s narrow, somewhat dark (if we don’t turn the light on), and it’s close enough to the family room and kitchen that we can see if they take their foreheads off the wall.
When I first did this with Lucas, it was difficult for him. He was throwing a fit, and the first thing he wanted to do was fall to the floor. But I didn’t allow it. I required him to stand up with his forehead on the door without sitting or talking.
It was an amazing exercise in self-control. And I’m happy to say that he passed with flying colors. He stayed put until I came over to him and discussed what he did wrong. We did our usual chat, talking about the offense and giving apologies. My boys are also well-versed in asking for forgiveness. With all of that out of the way, we finished it off with hugs and kisses.
We may still do timeouts on the bed occasionally, but for now, foreheads on the wall add that bit of novelty that make them more painful and more effective.
Do you do timeouts at home? What works best for your child?