Go Find Your Happy Face!

I am just going to put this out there: I am a big face of timeouts. I do also believe that there is a time and place for physical reinforcement (although I would never spank a kid that was not my own, so parents, calm yourselves). When I say there’s a time and place I mean, if my kid ran out into them middle of the street I probably would grab his or her arm and give them a little swat. Reason being, the consequence of running out on the road would have been a physical one: getting smooched by a car. The same thing were to happen if I saw them reach for the hot stove. If they talked back, their consequence would not be physical, therefore, a time out would be given. The saying, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,’ is what I have incorporated into my disciplinary actions. The only thing I have to add is consistency.

Nathan was very particular about everything. The food on his plate couldn’t touch each other, the pillow had to be just right when we sat down to read a book, and it has to be that Spiderman episode. He was one of the sweetest little boys you would have ever met, but if something didn’t go his way, well shoot. You better brace yourself for a temper tantrum.

At first, it was hard to find a way to deal with these tantrums. At one point, he had even resorted to hitting me to try and get what he wanted. I am in no way a pushover, though. So tantrums didn’t sway me from the get go. I would just get angry and ignore Nathan until he stopped whining. Some parents might use this tactic and hey, if it works for you, all the power to ya. However, I don’t like leaving children in the dark with ‘because i said so!’ as the explanation. I am also not a fan of yelling at kids so that is why I resorted to ignoring him so that I, in response to his tantrum, wouldn’t have my own. I had to find a way to keep my cool, but still be able to discipline and properly explain things in a calm, collective, grown up way.

Then one day it hit me!

“Can we read a book?” Of course I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to do such a thing. We had been play cars ALL afternoon and I was at the end of my rope crawling on my knees back and forth around the dining room table.

“Sure we can!” I replied, “Right after we put away all the cars!”

“No, you clean it yourself.”

“Nathan, you were playing with the cars too. Come help me put them away and then you can choose a book to read.”

He crossed his arms and pouted.”NO!” I walked over to him and got down on his level.

“Nathan, we have to clean up the mess of cars before we can read a book, okay?” He pushed his lip out a little bit further. I gasped! “Nathan!!” He perked up. “Uh oh! You lost your happy face. What happened?”

“I don’t want to clean up,” he stomped.

“i don’t like playing with grumpy little boys. You’re going to have to go find your happy face before we do anything else.”

He waltz upstairs and i heard his door slam. Within seconds, the door creaked open and he shouted down the stairs, “I found it, Sir. Can i come clean up the cars and then we’ll read a book?

It worked. To be sure it wasn’t just a fluke, it used it for the next couple days. Soon enough, he was giving himself time outs telling me that he needed to find his happy face or else he would turn into the Hulk. Lol. Worked for my kids, maybe it’ll work for yours!