Let’s make a plan.
If you have ever been on the internet, then you have heard that giving a time out is a horrible thing. It is not.
You have heard that connecting with your child during a fit or a tantrum is a better thing. That is correct.
So let’s make a plan:
When we are calm, we have had good sleep and we have lots of patience in our hearts, let’s plan to stop when our child starts to tantrum. Let’s plan to get down on their level. Let’s plan to check in with them and try to figure out what need is not being met. Let’s plan to do this for at least one tantrum or fit per day.
But then let’s let reality in. Let’s realize that maybe we didn’t get enough sleep last night. Let’s remember that we might also be arguing with our spouse when the child melts down. Let’s remember that we are in the middle of making dinner, we are hungry and crabby and let’s have plan B set in place.
Because the reality is that although we want to always connect with our children, it isn’t physically possible and we don’t know what to do when we are at our wit’s end.
Plan A: Time -In (Stop, breathe, connect with child until need is met or tantrum subsides)
Plan B: Time – Out (Stop, breathe, give child 2 warnings in a calm voice and then remove child from the situation until they are calm)
This type of parenting is positive parenting with limits. It lives in reality. Even though we want to connect with our child every time they act up, it just isn’t possible.
This is similar to so many aspects of parenting:
-Plan A- natural birth with lots of skin to skin contact
-Plan B- Epidural, emergency C-Section and skin to skin contact as soon as possible
-Plan A- exclusive breast-feeding until child self-weans
-Plan B- Breastfeeding with pumping and formula until child is a year old
-Plan A- Never let child cry, carry everywhere
-Plan B- When child A is crying, feel bad for child B who is crying, Carry as much as possible
All of Plan A’s are based on what is best for the child and what we should do when everything is going right. I always plan for A. I always want what is best for my children. There is a ton of research behind Plan A. But when Plan A falls through, we cannot shame for Plan B. I feel so lucky that I have been able to do Plan A for about half of my parenting goals, but I do my best everyday to not shame myself when it switches to Plan B.
The same thing is true for tantrums. Whenever I read an article about Time-In or connecting with your child during tantrums, 90% of comments say “What a great reminder!” “I’ll have to remember this!” “Thanks so much for writing this- it’s beautiful!” So far, I have yet to read a comment that said, “I do this 100% of the time with my children.” Because you can’t. Because it is a reminder. It is a shout-out for Plan A. Now if we could only have the article stop after they tout the benefits of Plan A and not allude to ruining your children with Plan B (because you won’t).
So let’s make a plan:
Let’s plan to meet as many of our children’s needs as possible.
Let’s plan to teach them calming down techniques when they are calm and happy (breathing, taking space, etc)
Let’s plan to make clear limits and boundaries that everyone is aware of.
Let’s plan to stop, breathe and connect with our children during a tantrum at least once per day.
Let’s plan to understand that at some point during the day, we will not have any more patience.
Let’s plan to have a safe space in the house where the child can go when they are upset and they can practice calming down.
Let’s plan to calmly give them 2 warnings before removing them from the situation (ie giving them a time out)
Let’s plan to calmly bring them to their safe place (most likely bedroom, but plan ahead if that space isn’t ideal) when they are unable to calm down and you are unable to connect.
We need to have a plan, because when we don’t, we can’t be consistent and the behavior only gets worse. We need to follow-through with our plan, but we can only do that when we have one set in place. So make a plan today with your spouse and cover all the angles so that you know what to do when the poop hits the fan. This is the way to help your child and help their behavior.
Let’s have a plan in place.
Plan A: Time In– connect with your child
Plan B: Time- Out– give space to everyone