Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.
This is a story of how Syona’s first real time-out went down. Let me set the scene. I was carrying Syona and she asked to call her grandma (Nanni) for about the 200th time that day.
Me: “Syona, we can’t call Nanni right now.”
Syona: Turns to me and hits my cheek.
Me: (Wondering if this was one of her involuntary hand movements from her cerebral palsy and my face just got in the way as she was moving her hand). “Did you just hit Mommy on purpose?”
Syona: Looks me square in the face, raises her arm and proceeds to give me a solid right hook to the jaw.
My first reaction was to smile, laugh and throw Syona in the air with joy. Why? There are three main reasons:
1. Woo-hoo! She has targeted control over her arm and hand movements.
2. She completely understood me when I asked her a relatively complex question.
3. Other two-and-a-half year olds do this, right?
But instead of celebrating, I bit my cheek, turned my ear-to-ear grin into an Oscar-worthy fake parent frown, and told her that hitting was not OK and she was going to get a time-out.
So she sat in the corner of the couch while I sat beside her (I wanted to make sure she didn’t fall off the couch) and told her I wasn’t going to talk to her during her time-out. Syona proceeded to scream, cry and tantrum and I just sat beside her ignoring her completely. Once she calmed down a bit I explained that she was in a time-out because she hit Mommy and hitting is not OK. I then scooped her up and we moved on.
Read more: Taming temper tantrums >
This was a huge milestone for us. Syona’s had some behaviour issues before, but they were mostly the result of a major lack of self-regulation. I know that a lot of folks think this is the new parenting “buzzword” but in the world of parenting a child with special needs a lack of regulation is a very real thing with implications on a child’s development.
Read more: The latest parenting buzzwords >
In our world it meant that Syona could never come back from crying without major interventions, distractions, etc. It meant that a time-out (or any event/occurrence she didn’t like) would result in Syona screaming for three hours (or more, if we let her). We’ve had the pleasure of working with someone who specializes in behaviour and they’ve taught Dilip and I the skills to help Syona build resiliency. For more on the skills we learned I highly recommend the Reaching in Reaching Out website and the Canadian Self Regulation Initiative. The fact that we’re able to move on to “regular” discipline is a huge win.
Gratitude for tantrums, acting out, discipline and time-outs wasn’t something I anticipated when I became a mom, but man, does it feel amazing.
How do you discipline your kids?