I don’t call it ‘time-out’, I call it ‘sit-and-think-time’.
Because I’m reading a book about positive discipline, where the central idea is that no child will behave better when made to feel worse, and that there is something between total permissiveness (which I hate) and do-exactly-as-I-say strictness (which I gravitate towards, but wish I didn’t). Secretly I harbour an inner headmistress that would like to silence unruly children with a good Scary Eyes Face, and leave it at that. Now I’ve got a boy myself, Headmistress Lady bats handbags at dawn with Feelings Lady, who just wants her glorious child to be so happy all the time, and yes of course we can make mess, and of course you can climb that bannister, and please stay as long as you like at the park, you little beaming thing I adore.
Feelings Lady gets on my nerves, and she’s no good in large doses for tumbleweed Henry, who already thinks he runs everything around here and should go wherever the heck he wants. I’m trying to find a middle way. There has to be one: my mum had a cracking line in Scary Eyes Faces, and she’s about as far from Headmistress Lady as they come. Lovely as a sunrise, but when the eyes came out, well. You’d had it.
I hope the middle way will include effective sit-and-think-time. One day. For now, Hen sits on the edge of the step watching my ticking timer with unbearable excitement. Because when the alarm goes off, he does a special dance. It’s got shoulder shrugs and everything. Not quite the learning experience I was hoping for.
(I might add that he thinks Scary Eyes Face is the opening challenge in a mother-son gurning competition.)