Discipline and me…


I’m not a very strict mother. Often I do things that helps ease the situation for me and suits my convenience or buys peace immediately even if it means bending the rule or ignoring the rule book. Sometimes I do a lot of things which makes things easier for me than what is good for the child, much to my better half’s chagrin!. And once in a while I get panic attacks when my son totally misbehaves.

But I’m not without self doubts. Yesterday I shared my worry about my son turning into a spoilt little rascal due to my laid-back attitude with  my friend, who’s a mother of teenagers. And she’s undoubtedly the best mom around. I’ve watched her interact with them for many years and she never ceases to amaze me. She’s loving & supportive most of the time and strict where she has to be. The kids have grown up to be responsible, obedient, independent, non-fussy, adjusting, the works.

After listening to me she said, “Now he’s old enough to know his limits. Start giving him ‘time-outs’ when he’s unruly. He has to sit in a chair facing the wall for a given period of time. It’ll be very difficult the first few times. You’ll have to hold him down forcefully. Start with 5 minutes and later increase it to whatever you feel is appropriate”.

Today I had a chance to carry this out. The little imp was cranky on the way back from school. He refused to share a toy with a friend in the car, screamed for no reason and once home, refused to take a bath, but insisted on eating chocolate with his filthy hands. My first impulse was to whack him and drag him to the bathroom, kicking and screaming (what I usually do), ‘but wait!’ my friend’s voice told me in my head. ‘Try time-out’.

So I calmly told him ‘it’s time out for you’ and made him sit on chair facing a wall. “Nobody’s going to talk to you and I don’t want any noise from you either’ I thundered. “Just sit quietly” I stood nearby, so I can force him to sit down if he rebels.

But to my surprise, he complied and sat quietly. So I turned to some pending work at my comp.

After a bit of quiet, I turned to look at him. He was playing with the strings of the blinds. “No!” I bellowed. “No playing” He sat back again looking serious. “This works!” I thought triumphantly. How foolish I was shouting and getting my BP high all these days when I could’ve handled it so coolly!

After a few minutes of silence, he started singing. “No singing!” I said. He tried to tell me something. “No talking!” I told him sternly. He lowered his eyes, then tried to smile at me. I glared back. He turned away, but was looking really pleased. I looked at the clock. “5 minutes up” I told him, moving towards him. “Time-out over!”

“No!” he protested. What? I looked at him. “I want Time-out! I like Time-out!! I want to sit!!!”

I was totally gobsmacked.

Finally I had to drag him kicking & screaming to the bathroom away from the time-out chair…

I know there’s some lesson for me somewhere in this, but I just cannot figure it out…




  1. maami said,

    January 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Well after what we Indian moms do with yelling and shouting and pulling and pushing our children, time-out seems too civil a punishment for our children.No wonder your little fella finds it a chill way to get his breath back.
    Hmm.. you’re right! Adi udhavara madhiri annan thambi kooda udhava mattan!!! By the by, what happened to avvai shanmuki pic? Not that I don’t like your new avatar!

  2. Rekha said,

    January 24, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Haha.. I totally empathize with you. I get the same feeling with my daughter. Feel like she is going to grow up really spoilt, and nothing seems to work – Ive tried shouting, ignoring, everything.. I have yet to try time-out but I get the feeling she will not sit in one place for so long. Have resisted the urge to land one on her bum many times. Keep feeling she is too young.
    God! You’re so patient! I whack him him even before I realise it!!! I regret it later, but sometimes its so frustrating when he does not cooperate even for the smallest task! How old id ur daughter? My son is 3 and a half.

  3. Lakshmi said,

    January 24, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    here’s some 20/20 for you.. lessons learned along the way. We write down behaviors and punishment on a piece of paper when everyone is in a good mood – get them to make rules, you see – get a “buy-in” in the business world.

    If you hit your brother – No Screen time two weekends.
    Each Attitude day – costs one fun activity of my choice

    Time out does not work for us.. but what works is what I call “Ignore time”. If one kid is having a difficult time getting to the shower, I give him/myself 10 minutes, after which I try again.. saying, come on -let’s do this and then read a book or do a puzzle, or even let’s take a duckie into the tub and squirt water into a bucket (when they were young)..
    Above is a textbook case, reality is something in-between..
    Thanx Lakshmi! Making up rules sounds good. Shall try it when he’s a bit older. I just want to give Time-out a few more chances before I give up!!! But then, like u said, reality is something else altogether!!!

  4. 10yearslate said,

    January 25, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Uncanny! Exactly what happened in our household when I made my little girl sit in the corner. (As an aside, I picked this technique up from ‘Dennis the Menace’)

    After the initial fidget (like your child) she got used to it and reluctantly left the corner when time was up.

    I licked my chops at this method of cooling down both parties. However, soon enough, the tables were turned when she ordered me to the corner when I lost my temper at something!

    In the interests of consistency I obeyed. I must say it is a good technique-as we are able to sit down and discuss the issue at hand civilly after the time served.
    True! Looks like a good technique to me too… I just have to make sure he understands that its a punishment & not a game!

  5. maami said,

    January 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

    well it shanmukhi maami moonji disappeared in the box how i don’t know so i quickly got this amit das painting. if i find shanmukhi maami she’ll hog my pix again.:-)

  6. Harish Ramaswamy said,

    March 19, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    I’m a little scared about parenting.


    but im a little happy inside.
    cos i know its not going to happen atleast for the next 12-14 years.

    Ya, you can count on me for free advice when that happens!

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