Friday, March 11, 2011

(not?) A bunch of hooey

I mentioned that I attended a discipline class a week or so ago, based on the books of Dr. Becky Bailey and her Conscious Discipline workshops.

I was really looking for a time-out solution, as ours was hardly doing the trick. I had been working with a modified version of the Love and Logic Uh-Oh song, but hadn't been very consistent. We had a time-out corner, but I had to stand there with Ellen to try (try being the operative word) to keep her there for even 30 seconds. The Love and Logic guys say that standing in the corner (or going to your room, or whatever ...) should be punishment enough and you don't need to demand an apology or explain what your child did - they are smart enough to figure it out on their own. For older kids I agree with a lot of this, but the translation to toddlers is much more challenging. And, in the end, it never seemed to solve our issues.

So, fast forward to "The Safe Place". I'll admit that when I heard this in class I thought it sounded ridiculous, like a bunch of granola-flowerchild-parenting. Here is my brief explanation of what they taught us - I'm sure the books go into much more detail. The idea is that "Time Out" is replaced by "Safe Place". Kids between the ages of 15 months and 4 years are primarily in an "emotional state" and their primary concern is, Am I Loved? They are very egocentric at this age (yep, that sounds about right). So, by sending your child away for time out, you are contributing to the problem because they just want to be with you.

The Safe Place can be a favorite chair, or an item (doll / lovey), or even a parent. It can be in the room you are in, or close to it, just so the child isn't isolated. If Sally takes a toy from Suzie and hits her, then you can take Sally to the Safe Place, sit with her and help her talk through her emotions. "I can see that you were frustrated when Suzie took your toy, so you hit her. Let's sit in this safe place until you feel better." And when the child calms down, you can practice what you would change next time. A hug and a kiss, then back to playing. Eventually, the idea is that the child would just go to their Safe Place when they are feeling out of control and would re-join the group when they are feeling better.

Hooey, right?

So, the day after class, I found Ellen in the midst of some kind of meltdown. I just grabbed her, sat with her in a chair, and hugged her tight in a bear hug (to keep her from hitting me and biting me - where is my safe place?). I talked her through whatever the issue was, she calmed down, we hugged it out and she was fine - issue resolved. I was pretty impressed, actually. I used it several more times and felt it was a pretty successful technique.


I am pretty much the Safe Place at this point. If I am the object of her anger (which, let's face it, is often the case), she really doesn't want to be confined in a bear hug in a chair. We've got some kinks to work out, but I think it is always helpful to add some more tools to your discipline tool belt.

And, it has been pretty cute to hear Ellen say, "I upset. I have tears on my face. Hug?"

1 comment:

The Allen's said...

Hmmm... something to try. I will report back and let you know how it goes.