Friday, January 10, 2014

Time "In": Our Gentle Discipline Solution

Over the last few months, Robbie has been hitting and throwing things at me and Daddy.  It is obviously really frustrating.  It became much worse with the holidays as he was really overstimulated and was around people that he didn't know or didn't know well.  We would just say "no hitting" and remove him from the situation but it would happen again right after.  He wouldn't do it all day but when he was tired or frustrated, he would hit.
One night at home alone with Robbie, enough was enough.  I knew I wasn't going to spank him, especially since it would be me hitting him for him hitting me.  It didn't make sense to me to do that.  I'd heard of "time in" before on an Attachment Parenting Facebook page but at the time, he wouldn't have understood the connection between the "time in" and the misbehavior.  That night though, after he hit me one too many times, I laid a blanket out in a more quiet area of the house.  When he hit me, I picked him up and sat him on the blanket, sat down with him and said, "no hitting" very sternly.  He immediately stood up, which I was completely fine with, but as he walked past me, he smacked me on the back.  I sat him back down on the blanket and he started crying and stood up and hit me on the back.  I sat him back down and said "no hitting."  Thankfully Daddy came home at that point and Robbie ran over to him, without hitting me.  I told Daddy what I'd been doing and he wasn't sure it was a good thing since Robbie was so mad at me.  We also discussed that the behavior seems to start when he's tired and decided that we should start the bedtime routine when it starts.
The next day I went to work and Daddy said that he had to do "time in" twice but that Robbie hadn't cried and that he stopped the behavior after.  He even warned him asking if he wanted to sit down and Robbie had stopped without having to actually sit down.
Since then it has been going well!  He only cried that one day and I was sitting next to him offering love the whole time.  He will usually stop if we warn him that he'll have to "sit down" if he continues to hit or throw.  We also emphasize that it's okay to throw balls only and praise him when he does throw them.  We're not sure if this is confusing to him but he seems to get it.
All we expect with "time in" is for him to sit down.  That's it.  He can get up immediately if he wants.  We don't expect him to sit for 5 seconds or 2 minutes or anything.  As he gets older, if we have to use "time in," we will increase the time he has to sit.  I do also plan on teaching him the sign for "sorry" soon and maybe he will have to sign it to us before he can walk away.
He is hitting and throwing less and less!  We are so proud of him learning so quickly.  We weren't sure if we could encourage him to stop hitting without raising our voices or using other not-so-gentle means but we have!  The misbehavior still happens sometimes when he is tired but he listens and doesn't want to have to sit down.  We also judge whether he is tired at this point and start winding down if necessary.  Sometimes he gets wild when one of us comes home but if warned, he will direct it in a different way.
We haven't used it out of the house yet and I don't think Gran, who babysits once a week, has tried it.  I don't think he usually acts out with her much though.
This may not work for everyone.  Robbie, for example, would not respond to just warning at the beginning and we had to start "time in."  Perhaps a warning will be all he needs in the future!  I do hope that it will help someone, especially before resorting to less gentle means.  

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