Time to Count to Three

It’s a common thing around here. “I want that,” for something Cameron knows he cannot have, and I say no. Then the whining commences. I say no again. “No! I want it! IwantitIwantit!” I reason with him, explain why he cannot have it, only to be met with more whines. Pester, pester, pester in rising voice, refuse, refuse, refuse in loud exasperated voice. One or both of us winds up screaming – him, “I want it!” Me, “ENOUGH I HAVE HAD IT! TIME OUT! NOW!” Lovely parenting.

Another frequently seen interaction is in the grocery store. “Come on Cameron, over here.” Ignored. “Cameron, come here.” Ignored. “Caaaaameroooooon! Helllloooo?” Ignored, or an impatient, “I’m coooooomiiiiiing,” is offered as he moves three and a half millimeters. “Cameron. NOW.” Nothing. “CAMERON. GET OVER HERE NOW. RIGHT NOW. MOVE IT. You do NOT want me to come and get you, kiddo.” Again, treasured moments.

Time outs in our house are generally punishments. No toys. Sit yer butt down on that chair and don’t budge.  He’s told why he is in time out at the start, and again at the end. He must say sorry to get out of time out most of the time. They’re usually me deciding my own tantrum is being ineffective, and this way at least he changes what he’s screaming about.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think that I’m doing okay in the parenting department. Every family has their meltdown moments, and I doubt ours are any more frequent than others. I’m not a perfect parent, though. I do recognize that it would be ludicrous to expect that of myself. Of course I have room for improvement.

My brother in law threw me for a loop when we were at the Lake. We were discussing time outs, and I mentioned that I’d moved the time out chair to the hallway since when it was in my room Cameron always found something to play with. I always knew because he stopped screaming and wailing. Peter shrugged, and said something along the lines of “Why does that matter? So what if he finds something to do? Or is it about punishment, making him miserable?” Ohdear. Yup. That’s what it’s about. He mentioned 1-2-3 Magic, and how they use it. Now, it’s not like Jennifer was 100% angel all of the time and never stepped out of line, but truth be told, Cameron had more sharing issues, more snarkiness, and I sure lost my cool a few times.

I’d heard of this book/method a few times already, from various sources. A brief debate I seem to recall on BabyCenter’s bulletin boards. Parents for the most part seemed to like it, but there were of course those whose parenting methods don’t include time outs because it’s cruel or too harsh or they feel it doesn’t teach the child and only punishes them. A chapter in Helping Me Help Myself, a hilarious book about one writer’s self-improvement year. A few local parents who will occasionally hold up a finger and say, “That’s one,” and their child scampers off to do something else. So it was already there on my radar, something I was thinking about.

I bought it today. While Cameron was hoarding an armload of train engines and cars at Chapters, I meandered off down the parenting aisle and scooped up a copy. At home, book bought, sleepy Cameron ready for his story, my little love brought me THAT book to read. “Oh, sweetie, that’s not a story for you. See? No pictures.” He asked, “What is it?” So I explained, it’s a book that will help Mommy and Cameron to not yell at each other. Wouldn’t that be good, if we could stop some of the yelling? I don’t like yelling at you, and I don’t think you like yelling at me. He agreed, emphatically. “Now, pick out your bedtime story and I’ll read it to you.” He thought for a moment, then picked up 1-2-3 Magic again. So we snuggled down in the comfy chair, and I read aloud to him until he fell asleep. Then I kept reading until I’d reached the end of the “stop behaviour” sections before tucking him into bed.


2 responses to “Time to Count to Three

  1. Thanks for your post. As a parent of a nearly 3 year old I totally relate. It is so difficult to be consisent with our parenting and give our children good boundaries. I totally believe in consequences for behaviour both good and bad and if time out works for you and Cameron then it is great and an excellent consequence.
    Thanks for your book recommendation. I will take a look at it too.
    All the best and keep up the good parenting…I don’t think any of us need to even try to be a ‘perfect’ parent…just a good clear consistent one.

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