Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From a spanking mum to a time-out mum


I've known and seen kids given time-out or put at naughty corner ever since the episodes of Supernanny started airing in Singapore a few years back. I have watched most episodes with interest and crinched at how out-of-control the kids can be and how helpless the parents can be. As a new parent then, I hoped I never need a Supernanny.

Well Supernanny techniques never seemed to sink into me despite watching?!  Ever since Kaylene passed 2 and all the way till 4 now, both hubby and I have used spanking, either with our hands or the cane, for times when she misbehaved. Throwing tantrums, refusing to obey, things that drive us up the wall... We were brought up in families that do not spare the rod. Hence, in our parenthood, it seems natural for us to do the same. 

We've spanked mostly with our hands, slapping her hands or legs. We hoped that the pain she experienced as a result of the spanking would be a message to her that she had done wrong. As for the cane, we seldom use it but merely wave it as a threat or whack it on the chair or table around us. Now, the thought of the little girl seeing how mad  mummy and daddy looked with the spanking hands, or the whipping sound that came from the cane, must have frightend the poor little soul.

Looking back, I think we've instilled fear in her at that moment but I'm not sure if she had learnt anything,  EXCEPT, that hitting is right if somebody has done wrong. About half a year ago, I've came to realise this after she started hitting me when she thinks I'm wrong! And now that she has a younger sister (who's turning 2 soon) , hits the sister with her hands and even attempts to take the cane when she thinks the sister is wrong!! This really served me a big realisation of what has passed on to our elder girl when we used spanking in our discipline for her.

I did not adopt the time-out/naughty corner way of discipline immediately, apprehensive if I can handle if Kaylene does not want to have her time-out or stay at her corner. I tried using the non spanking method and the coaxing with some threats method.  The result was that it made me rather depressed as I found myself nagging and scolding her a lot more! I found myself angry at her most of the time and realised this method don't work well as most of the time the threats are not threats to her as she don't seems to care or remember. Overtime, Kaylene also seemed to be more resentful and angry towards me..

Only recently that I decided to finally resort to time-out method. I prefer to use the time-out phrase when I'm sending Kaylene to a place where she stays there for her 4 minute time-out. This is a definition which I found from a happyfamiliesblog  that explains what is a time-out, which I I felt it should be -This typically consists of responding to a child's challenging behaviour with the direction that he or she should sit somewhere boring and free of distractions for a set amount of time to "think" about what was wrong with said behaviour. After that period of time, the child will supposedly be remorseful and will also have learned his or her lesson.

I prefer not to use the phrase 'naughty corner' as kaylene responded badly upon hearing this. I'd have a more challenging time if she hears these 2 words. I gusessed she might think that being put at a corner is a form of abandonment. So, for time-out, I let her stay at the spot that she choses, as long as she's free from distraction and is willing to stay at the spot.

So, my regime is, if she presents a challenging behaviour, she gets warned that it's unacceptable and if she repeats the behaviour, she gets her time-out. She'll get her time-out immediately without warning for behaviour such as hitting, pushing, or throwing something out of anger at someone.

For a start, it was a challenge for me as I'd to control my  temper/anger and remain calm when Kaylene presented unacceptable behaviour.  I had been used to spanking and it was a challenge to hold that hand of mine.  It was tempting to raise my hands but I've learnt to quickly briefly close my eyes and take a deep breath at the same time. It helped, and after a month of practise and using time-out method, I found myself controlling my anger pretty well and able to stay calm most time!! Even I was surprised that I can feel surreal when faced with her bad behaviour, and calmly deliver my explanation and her time-out!

As for Kaylene,  she retaliated the first few times. I had to put her back a few times and we did struggle for the longest of half an hour. It was the same from the supernanny's episodes, like most kids , she will end up hugging me after the struggle,in tears, and says her apologies.

So, after 2 weeks, with perserverance of continuing the time-out, Kaylene has finally learnt the regime and  also know that unacceptable behaviour will lead to a time-out. She takes the time-out better and we don't struggle like we did initially. And also, since she knew that hitting is unacceptable and will immediately lead to a time-out, there were a couple of times when I can see she felt remorseful immediately after she hits her sister and would quickly apologise.

We still have a lot to work on. But I am glad to see some light in disciplining my kids.

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