(NEW YORK) — One mom is sharing a simple disciplining tactic she said she uses to reinforce positive behavior from her toddler sons.
Sydni Ellis, a writer from Sate, Texas, wrote a piece for the popular website POPSUGAR titled, “Instead of a Normal Timeout, My Toddlers Get ‘Mommy Timeouts’ — It Works Much Better!”
In the story published March 17, Ellis reveals how she sits with her boys Logan, 3 and Liam, 2, as a “refresh” whenever they’re not following the rules.
Ellis said she calls it a “mommy timeout.”
“As opposed to regular timeout, in which they sit in a corner alone for a certain amount of time, ‘Mommy timeout’ is when they have to sit right next to me or on my lap while they sort out their feelings, get a break from the situation, and get some precious cuddle time in at the same time,” Ellis wrote.
She went on, “So far, this is my favorite way to handle conflict and tantrums in my house — and with two toddlers a year and a half apart in age, meltdowns, fights, and screaming tantrums happen hourly.”
Ellis told Good Morning America that she started “mommy timeouts” when Logan was 10 months old. If Logan was misbehaving, she’d accompany him rather than having him sit alone.
“It was also a way for me and hug or cuddle him, because normally I couldn’t get him to do that. He just wanted to play or be on his own,” Ellis said, adding how she continued her tactic after her second child, Liam, was born. “When they’re in the corner, it makes me more frustrated. When they’re in “Mommy Timeout,” it helps me calm down [too].”
In her piece, Ellis said she also disciplines her kids in other ways like taking away toys or TV time, though by sitting with them “they both come out much happier,” she wrote.
Ellis said she uses the opportunity to connect with her boys one at at time and ask why they’re upset — giving them the opportunity to be separated during these tense moments, while one gets quiet time.
Ellis admits that while “mommy timeouts” works for her children, it may not work for all parents.
Mariko Fairly, a California-based board-certified behavioral analyst, agreed, adding that Ellis’ strategy is one alternative in lieu of sending children away and alone to deal with their emotions.
“There are other ways to do it, in the same room with the parent sitting next to them,” Fairly told GMA. “It’s modeling the coping strategies that we want them to model on their own, eventually.”
Fairly offered more tips for parents on reinforcing positive behavior:
Narrate what happened
Fairly said it’s OK to talk about what happened in an age-appropriate way. If your child gets upset when you’re trying to talk to them, try waiting and sitting quietly with them.
Model controlled breathing
Practice taking deep breaths with your child and model what you need them to do to calm down.
Name favorite characters
Ask children to name characters from their favorite show, or recite the colors of the rainbow while they cool off.
Ellis wrote in her POPSUGAR article that she and her boys talk about the tooth fairy, and what they’ll name their future family dog.
Have at least 2 to 3 minutes of calm
Fairly said to make sure the child had enough time to calm down before they go back to what they were doing. “If you go too soon then things might re-escalate,” she explained.
Fairly suggest you can say in times of conflict, for example: “You and your brother want the same toy. What can we do so [you] both have turn?”
It’s about teaching them what to do to develop the coping skills and the ability to fix the situation, Fairly said.
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