Fiona loves yogurt - especially strawberry yogurt - especially Dora brand strawberry yogurt that Mommy refuses to buy due to the increased cost for the cute package, but Grammy will gladly purchase for her darling granddaughter. Imagine my horror then, when I serve her some prized Dora strawberry yogurt, turn my back for a minute, and find my daughter sitting in her booster seat, rubbing the yogurt up and down her bare leg. Maybe she was trying out some at-home spa treatment. Sure this will be funny. Someday. For today, I’m left cleaning up the mess.
But I’m back to a parental authority judgment call: it took me about 5 minutes to clean up Fiona and the chair, and table. Should I put her in time-out? I always felt at her age, due to her short attention span, I had to punish her immediately following the act. The more time that passes between the infraction and the punishment, the more likely she will not realize why she’s being punished. I could have put her in time-out first and cleaned her later, but then she would have gotten the mess all over her time-out corner. Instead I told her “Don’t do that,” cleaned her up, and let it go.
I have an epiphany now: a smart Mom would have taken her child to time-out, which would be a carpet and upholstery-free area of course, where she would have proceeded to swiftly clean up her child’s leg, while firmly explaining the error committed. In the span of a 2 minute time-out, smart Mom would have cleaned up her child, the chair and the table, while the kid sat completely still, maybe even whimpered a little, out of reverence to the smart, oh so brilliant Mom.
In all seriousness, this is an example of how I often wonder if I’m too soft on my child. I actually felt sort of terrible yesterday, because Fiona was getting into everything, and I felt like all I did was yell at her and put her in time-out. She had at least 5 time-outs yesterday. There was another part of me, who being raised by no-nonsense parents (No meant No; there was no counting to 3, you obeyed at 1) felt maybe my daughter’s bratty behavior was the culmination of months of spineless parenting on my part. While 5 time-outs in one day (all in a 2 hour-time span) seems mean, letting the infractions go is meaner in the long-term.
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