We have had a bout with behaviors that have required TIME OUTS recently, more so for Lightning than Thunder.
TIME OUT breaks Thunder's heart. He is crushed that he has disappointed me and he quickly regrets his rash decision to be disobedient. He is a quick learner. His time outs have never extended beyond the first buzzer. Apologies are made sincerely, and he recovers very well without holding a grudge. We easily go on with the day.
Lightning, however, becomes a Jekyll and Hyde...from sweet Mama's Boy to Monster Extraordinaire. He yells, he kicks, he squirms, he hits. I share this because I found myself questioning whether or not I was being too strict in my corrections. I had moments of doubting my disciplinary actions.
For example, was I making him sit too long? Was I being unreasonable when he turned the time out chair into a bucking bronco and I extended his time in time out for such an action? Was I being unfair making him sit in the chair rather than allowing him to roll around on the floor waiting for the time to pass?
Regardless of my doubts, I still had an overwhelming belief in my heart that I was doing the right thing.
My children need to know that I mean what I say and I say what I mean. We had a family meeting weeks ago. I explained the rules of our family to them as well as the consequences for breaking a rule, and I continue to take time to review the aforementioned. They must know that they can trust what I say...breaking a rule results in a consequence. The consequence is to SIT in TIME OUT.
If I say SIT. I mean SIT...not roll around on the floor...not half stand, half sit...not sit riding the "horsey chair"...I mean SIT, you are in TIME OUT, and if that means increasing the time in time out for not sitting, then so be. I would ask Lightning to STOP the unacceptable behavior and tell him that if he did not comply, the time would be increased.
When met with vehement defiance and "NO!" to my request, the time he needed to spend in the chair was automatically increased. This translated into some rather lengthy "sitting"/monkeying around spells for Lightning that did not end until he sat and sat well.
In general, he is a slow learner and very reluctant to apologize. He likes things on his terms. Where Thunder is quick to reach the "I'm ready" stage, Lightning is not, so the last couple of days we have spent a lot of time waiting...waiting for Lightning to recover from random and varied misbehavior's.
Two beautiful things have blossomed from our mini-bout with disobedience and tantrums:
1. I believe that my children now know that they can trust my words and actions. Thunder has mostly witnessed it through watching my interactions with his brother, whereas Lightning, on the other hand, has experienced it personally. In the midst of doubting myself, I read the following words written by an adult adoptee about the things adoptive parents should know:
"Show me-through your words and your actions-that you are willing to weather the storm with me. I have a difficult time trusting people due to the losses I have experienced in my life. Show me that I can trust you. Keep your word. I need to know that you are a safe person in my life and that you will always be there when I need you and when I don't need you."
from the Diary of a Not-So-Angry Asian Adoptee
It was the phrase "Keep your word" that spoke directly to my spirit and helped me to understand that maybe in his own unique way, Lightning, through his misbehavior, was asking "can I trust your words and actions?"
"Yes, Lightning, you can trust my words and actions. When I say SIT, I mean sit and I will be there by your side, through the kicking, the hitting, the yelling, and the defiance until you realize that I mean what I say and you can trust me to follow through. I will be there when you need me...to kiss your boo boos, to eat your playdoh pizzas, to give you a horsey ride in the pool, to wash your stinky feet, to button your pants, to wipe your nose, to hug you and say 'I LOVE YOU SO MUCH', to wrap spaghetti around your fork, to help you count and color in your books, to sing you to sleep and so much more. I will also be there when you don't need me...when you are kicking and screaming and playing the part of Monster Extraordinaire, because I am a safe person in your life and I will weather the storms with you."
2. Lightning had one tantrum a day for three days in a row. However, today is our third day without a tantrum, and a confident boy is emerging from the cocoon. He is well aware of the behavioral expectations I have and he repeats them to me often. I confirm the truth of what he is saying. The directives that sparked the tantrums just three days ago are now met with joyful obedience. He sings as he cleans up. He willingly does the tasks asked of him even if he takes a minute to process it...he may start to squawk then quickly corrects himself. He is respectful of boundaries. He doesn't raise his voice in anger.
When he does make a mistake, he SITS and he SITS well and only for the allotted time. He is quick to offer an apology and go on with the day.
Two days ago, I heard him singing, "I did it. I did it. Bueno Nino! Si!" upon leaving the TIME OUT chair after just five minutes.
He is blossoming, and it is beautiful!