Saturday, January 28, 2012

Time In

When you adopt kids out of the foster care system, you learn a lot about alternative forms of discipline.  Some of these kids have been through such rough patches that no ordinary threats make any dent.  Take away their toys?  They've been there, done that, and worse.  Corporal punishment?  You don't even want to know.

Another standard parenting trick (One-Two-Three-Magic) uses Time Outs.  For many kids, removing the children from the situation is enough to calm them down, and the isolation is a punishment.  But for many foster kids who've been in less-than-happy family situations, Time Out is a treat.

So with my kids, discipline often means "Time In".  We fix ugly behavior by spending even more time with the kids, giving them a lot of face time.  It's not good for my own psyche to think that time spent with me is a punishment (hey! I'm not that nasty to hang out with, . . . or am I? hmm . . . ).  To preserve my own ego, I've had to readjust my thinking to tell myself that not all discipline is punishment.

Okay, there is still some punishment.  Both my husband and I are physically active.  When My Guy takes on the "Time In" role, he becomes the army drill sergeant.  He runs the boys.  He has them do push-ups.  They're quivering and sweaty by the end . . . but they've seen both their mom and their dad do the same hard stuff.  J-son wants to be a track star.  N-son wants to go army.  They don't want to get to the point where their dad makes them run, but they're darned proud that they can hack it.

I take a gentler approach.  We fix things.  We organize stuff.  We make dinner.  We do things I like to do, but I drag the kiddos through it all with me.  The formal term for this is "modeling appropriate behavior", but that just really means "showing them how it's done".
Quality Time In:  Cooking with J-son.
And if you think that this idea of "Time In" is just a trick for parents, then you haven't been reading how-to books for managers.  If MBWA (Management By Walking Around) isn't the grown-up version of "Time In", I don't know what is.

It's a heck of a lot easier for me to send my son to his room when he's being disagreeable or uppity than it is to spend time with that Grumpy Gus, but it's that time together that seems to actually change the situation.  I've been thinking about this more generally; there are problem committees and disagreeable paperwork I've been dealing with (or rather, not dealing with).  And, as much as I hate to admit it, Time In has made those situations better, too.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! You are really a mom committed with her kids' education and I think that your way of correcting bad behaviours (Time In)is great and maybe the best one.