Last year, while C. was throwing a huge tantrum about not getting some toy, I gave him a time-out in his room. Two minutes later (our usual time-out duration), my husband went to check on him and he was huddled in the corner of the room and sobbed,
“Mummy don’t want to be family.”
That just broke our hearts.
Later, my husband and I talked about why he would say something like this. He’s going to school everyday now (bumped up from three times a week) and is probably still adapting. He’s also starting to ask more complex questions like “Why is mummy a girl and I’m a boy?”. When my husband scolds him, he tells me “Daddy does not want to be my friend.” But family?! 😦
I remember an adoptive mum telling me that time-outs did not work for her tween daughter because her girl would feel very abandoned and would start yelling “No one wants me.” As such, she tweaked such discipline sessions such that she is in the same room while the daughter does her time-out.
And so, I tried a similar approach the other day. I sat by the door while C. had a meltdown about wanting to scoot when it was dinnertime. I sat by the door while he writhed on the floor. He kept telling me what he wanted and I kept explaining to him (being very careful not to shout or tsk or sound impatient) why he was in the room, why we needed to eat dinner soon and why he should not be talking to daddy and mummy this way. And after about 15 minutes of this back-and-forth, it’s like something broke through and he ran over to hug me and said, “Sorry Mummy.” He stopped crying almost immediately after that and ate dinner peacefully.
I’m not sure if it will work the next time round but I feel like that I need to be more aware of his temperament and current developmental stage – basically always observing what he best responds to at that point in time. The balance between parenting with love while not overcompensating is so tricky.
And also, all the stuff that I’ve been “preparing” for in writing the Squirky book series – it finally feels more real than ever.