Do you Snuggle Post Time-Out?

Ok, so I sent Rory to her room today–probably for a slightly lame reason, but there it is–sometimes I give one or the other the “go to your room” line and then I think, well, that wasn’t really a big deal–but once I’ve said it, there we are. They’re used to it; they march. Rory has marched, but today she didn’t…I had to deliver her.

I went up to release her pretty quickly. The point is, unless there’s some dramatic reason to do otherwise, I am usually just very matter-of-fact about the end of a time out. You can come out when you’re read to apologize, or whatever (in Rory’s case, it’s always “when you’re ready to stop screaming.”)

She wouldn’t do it. In fact she then REFUSED to come out at all, which became a problem, as I needed to get her dressed, and I knew we needed to leave the house soon. But she would not come down to get dressed. It became clear that she wanted me to come get her, and carry her, and soothe her–and I wouldn’t. In the end, I went up, dressed her briskly, told her that since she had chosen to stay in her room, she would stay there until we were ready to leave, put her back in her room and closed the door.

Much hysteria ensued, but that’s not the point. The point is that, again, I eventually went up and told her she could come down as soon as she was ready to stop yelling, because we would be leaving soon–and she wouldn’t come out. I want you, I want you, I want you.

Ok, fine, it’s good that she wants me. I do think we’re bonding. But I also think this was a power stuggle. It became clear that she wanted me to come up, pick her up, carry her downstairs–she wanted me to come to her. And–one, I never do what a kid having a temper tantrum wants me to do, and two, that’s just not my style. A quick hug, and an “I still love you, I just don’t want you to do whatever” is about all you’ll get from me. Anything else seems to me to be rewarding the bad behavior…

I had to go up and tell her, a couple of times–you need to stop screaming now. You can come downstairs as soon as you do. Eventually, she came down. Slowly, On her butt, one step at a time, sniffling dramatically the whole way. And sat on the floor of the kitchen. Sniff. Sniff. If anyone but me talked to her–WAIL! GROWL!–I ignored her for a while, then offered up one of the strawberries I was cutting, just as I was offering Wyatt. I tried to keep it low-key.

Low-key is a little tough, with Rory.

Does anybody out there do a big forgiveness scene after a time-out? How does that work? How do you think it affects the kid? I can tell this is going to come up again.

6 Responses to “Do you Snuggle Post Time-Out?”

  1. Nancy says:

    I have a bio daughter who was 3 when I adopted a 2.5 year old. Bio daughter never had a time out, never cried, never had a tantrum. Really.

    Adopted daughter is so much like Rory I could write your blog. “I me no like you” “I me NOT” We power struggled for a long time, and I won. But I wish I had let her win a few, especially the annoying little ones. I was determined to treat her like my bio child and she was just a different kid. “Not that fork, that one. Not a blue cup, a blue cup. That blue cup. That one that my sister had, that’s the one I want.”

    For time outs, she could sit on the stairs in the center of our home if she was quiet. If she was not quiet, but screaming, she had to go upstairs. That was probably a mistake because being separated from people was just too hard on her. She did better in the long run if she could see me at all times, and sending her to her room just added to her fury. And yes, she did better if I looked her in the eyes after a time out, she said sorry and then there was a hug or two. Like you, not my style but she needed it.

    Her favorite thing in the entire world, even 10 years later, is for me to yell at her sister for something. Anything. It’s like a birthday present to her that someone else is in trouble and she’s having a ‘perfect’ moment. The jealousy still oozes from her.


  2. shirlee says:

    This is something I struggle with because I am by nature a very stubborn person. Of course, I have some very stubborn and strong-willed bio children. When my third son was Rory’s age, he drove me to the brink on a daily basis. Generally, more than once a day. I wasn’t sure if we’d survive. We’d get through one episode and one timeout only to begin a new episode and a new timeout. I had four kids under the age of seven, and I did NOT want to deal with tantrums that seem to come about over nothing. Simple things like me giving Seth half a sandwhich instead of a whole one (which we both knew he really didn’t want and wouldn’t eat) could lead to tantrums that nearly shook the house.

    So….when things would calm down, I really didn’t want to do the snuggle thing (because, usually, I was still ticked off over having to go through fits five and six and seven times a day plus it really isn’t in my nature to be overly snuggly and kissy and huggy….oddly, all five of my kids are that way and I’ve had to learn to change). Instead, I would kneel down in front of him, hold both his hands and say, “I love you more than all the stars in the heavens, but I do NOT like the way you acted. When you act that way, you will always go to your room, but I will still always love you more than the all stars in the heavens.”

    Then I’d kiss his cheek and send him on his way and that would be that. Until the next tantrum.

    I highly recommend a book by Cynthia Tobias…You Can’t Make Me Do it, but I Can Be Pursuaded. Loved it because it is written by a woman who was very strong willed. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I loved how she talked about power struggles and how parents often feel the need to engage in the battle and to win. To her and, I think, to our strong-willed kids, it is about having choices and being responsible for making the right (or wrong) one. If our kids think their choice has been taken away, they will dig in their heels and refuse to budge no matter the consequences.

    In the end, it is as Nancy (the above poster) said, kids like Rory and my Seth and her daughter need to feel like they can have their way. As parents, we must simply let them know that the choices they make and the consequences of those choices are theirs. If we are consistent in those consequences (both good and bad), our kids will learn the benefits of making wise choices (Sadly, this doesn’t always happen before we pull every hair out of our heads in frustration).

    BTW, Seth still likes to make his own choices, but he has learned to make much better ones. That is not to say he doesn’t mess up, but he is a great kid. And we both survived!

  3. Kate says:

    My daughter came home at 9 months old in July 07 (which makes her nearly 3), she’s my first child and we’re now waiting for a baby sister. So although adopted our situation is very different to yours.

    For us time-out works when the chair isn’t far from where we are, usually in the next room where she can still hear what’s happening without her but not participate. Time-out is quick, usually a minute after the noise has stopped. It ends with a recap of why she earned a time-out and how to do it better next time, then she apologies and we kiss to finish it. She normally needs physical contact afterwards, often a story during a cuddle.

    I have read that for older adoptees that time-in is sometimes more appropriate (doesn’t sound your style) but might be worth considering.

    Good luck,

  4. Time-outs have never worked in our house but losing dessert at night after supper works like a charm. It’s how we gain coorperation with Marissa our firecracker. If she gets 3 strikes she looses her dessert and she loves ice cream more than life itself. And she always knows where she stands in the ice cream arena and how far to push. Sometimes I ask “are you working on getting your ice cream or loosing it today?” Sometimes I tell her (when we are in public and I can tell she’s about to meltdown) Who is getting your ice cream tonight? She will straighten right up.

    I have come to understand ….but not really like it …that my child is very passionate about everything. She is very loving , huggy, sings me love songs, gives tight hugs. And then she can throwthe biggest fits you ever saw , throws herself on the floor, jumps up and down. So at the end of a meltdown there is lots of emotion between us and it takes time and she needs lots of words and hugs from me.

    In time you will figure out what Rory has to have from you in order to feel secure and know you will always love her.

  5. Liz says:

    My take is that Rory, like my 3 year old adopted son, has been through so much trauma in their short lives that they need compassion, stability, and a sense of permanent belonging. And that starts with mom. The other kids will never be able to give her the sense of security of love that she is seeking from you. You may need to step out of your emotional comfort zone to meet her emotional needs. She isn’t your biological child and she doesn’t have the history or the bonding with you that your other children do. They already trust you. They know that you aren’t going to leave them. So you may have to parent Rory differently until she is fully secure in her relationship with you, and your family. It is hard for her to fall in line, when she doesn’t know who to trust yet. She can’t articulate her fears, insecurities and trust issue’s so a great way to get mom’s attention is to act out. Compassion, empathy and some one one one time will go a long way with that little girl.

    Best of luck!

  6. Ninotchka says:

    “And–one, I never do what a kid having a temper tantrum wants me to do, and two, that’s just not my style. A quick hug, and an “I still love you, I just don’t want you to do whatever” is about all you’ll get from me. Anything else seems to me to be rewarding the bad behavior…”

    I could have written this. I feel the same way. And, no, I do not do a big forgiveness scene after a time out. I find it unnecessary and patronizing to all involved. I am very casual about it. I remind my children we all have our moments of bad behavior but the trick is apologizing and moving on. Done and done. Conversation? Yes. Drama? God no.