Right after Flyboy left in January, I knew I needed to re-think timeout for Max. Some of you might even remember that we implemented the 1-2-3 Magic program from a very early start (around age 2) after attending a parenting class in Swell Rio. We still use this system; however, I found the need to tweak it a bit, which is recommended based on the child's age and skill set. For the past year, Max has had a designated spot on the stairs where he had to sit for timeout. Because nothing is ever fully Max proof, I found that he would sit there and become more agitated. Once his timer went off and he could be released from timeout, more often than not his behavior was elevated (Oh, great!) or he was so stubborn that he refused to leave timeout. Tired of the never-ending power struggle, I created "The Thought Spot" after seeing a similar approach used at my mom's school. Some might argue that it's rewarding bad behavior, but I've found that when some items are used as tools instead of toys, Max feels as though he's in control of the situation and he's able to calm down on his terms. You could say the fun, soothing, and strategic objects are a great way to distract him from his impulsive and reactive behavior allowing him to de-escalate and think clearly. Hopefully.
For those interested, here's how I implemented The Thought Spot...
- After choosing a basket, buying a set of timers, and collecting a few thinking tools, I picked a designated place in the house that we could deem The Thought Spot. You can pick whatever space works best for you. I opted for the play room/office downstairs because it's fairly central and made sense with Max's table and chairs.
- As soon as I had a game plan, I sat Max down and discussed the new system with him. I was sure to include a few new thinking tools in the basket that he'd never seen before so it piqued his interest. I explained the items in the bin are tools, not toys, and they're meant to help him when he needs to calm down. I also explained that based on his behavior, I would inform him how long he'd be in timeout and that he would be responsible for setting the timer himself. If your kid is like mine and feeds off of control, they will eat that part up. We went through the basket and discussed how the various tools could be used to help him calm down. In addition to timeout, we agreed the tools in the basket could be visited whenever he's frustrated or needs a brain break.
- Depending on the reason he's sent to timeout, I decide whether we need to discuss the bad behavior once the timer has gone off. Excessive talking to Max isn't the most effective, so there's not always a need to re-hash the past. More often than not, he's aware of what he did to end up in timeout. Onward and upward.
Note: The Thought Spot might not work for everyone and it certainly isn't the answer for everything. It's merely a system I've found that helps when Max needs a regular timeout. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to respond to severe tantrums. As any parent knows, what works one day might not the next. This seems to meet our basic needs for now. If it's of any assistance to those of you out there in a similar situation, it's definitely worth a shot!
The Thought Spot Essentials:
We have this one from Target; use what you have.
I got a cheap set from Amazon for under $5!
Thinking Tool Ideas:
Raid your local Dollar Store or load up on Amazon.
Fellow parents, help a mother out. What has worked for you lately? I need all the tricks for my toolkit.