We have a time-tested routine for discipline in our household. First we administer the consequences, this is typically a timeout, and then we follow this pattern:
1. We get down at eye level with our little one.
2. We ask her to explain what she thinks earned her a timeout.
3. We praise her when she gets it right. If she gets it wrong, we explain it to her in as simple a way as possible what her real offense was.
4. We have her repeat back what she just heard.
And then something wonderful happens. At this point she usually relaxes visibly and starts grinning or smiling. I'm not being sarcastic here, she really does. She knows what is coming next. She knows step #5, and it is this.
5. We give her a deep, reassuring hug and kiss and whisper softly into her ear that we love her so much.
We want her to know without question that our love for her is not contingent on her good behavior.I think I've written that down somewhere. It has been my hope that this will also help her realize that being put in timeout is not something I do because I want to. That it is not something I do because I am angry or mean or in a foul mood. That it has more to do with her than it does me.
Apparently I have been naive.
Something interesting happened this weekend, Sydney blamed me for her timeout! She didn't use those words exactly, but I know that's what she meant. I had to sit down and explain consequences to her.
Disciplining a child in a consistent and patient manner is a real challenge sometimes. Mostly because I'm selfish and I just want my way immediately. But our girls are worth the time it takes and Dewdette and I try and keep each other accountable.