Why I Let My Toddler Give Me Time Out

After work and daycare, we went shopping. This is not unusual. It happens at about once a week. We have a routine, and at the end of the trip, if Abby has been good, she gets to pick out something. She usually chooses candy. Today, she was not good.

She wanted to push the cart. I was fine with it. I hold on to the side so I “don’t run off.” Abby refused to push the cart if I was touching it. It was too busy for me to let her loose with it, which occasionally happens if she’s listening and there are very few people around. Abby is easily distracted. I’m easily distracted.

I gave Abby three chances to push the cart explaining that if she didn’t push the cart, I would put her back inside. She didn’t push the cart. I put her back into it. That’s when the fit started. She started screaming. When we got to the front of the store, I asked her, calmly, to take a Deep Breath. Deep Breath is our code for breathing deeply and trying to calm down.

Abby made it abundantly clear she had no interest in calming down. I refused to walk through the checkout with a screaming toddler. We stood by the doors while we waited on Pappy to pay. It took both of us to get tantrum Abby into her car seat. She proceeded to scream the entire twenty minutes from the store to home. She proceeded to scream and thrash while I carried her into the house. Then the throwing started.

I’m ashamed that I lost my cool, but I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m only human, right? With the screaming and the throwing, I looked at my out of control three-year-old, and I screamed. She was quite shocked. I was quite shocked. I hadn’t exactly expected that when I opened my mouth. I walked out of the room, announced that I was going outside, and somebody needed to watch Abby. I went out and walked until I cooled off. I was gone maybe five minutes. Abby acted out a couple more times when I came back in, but I was calmer. She calmed down and asked me to read her a story.

We curled up on my bed. I read the book. Abby and I had a long talk after that. I explained to her that it was okay to be upset. It was okay to throw fits, even though I don’t like them, but that it wasn’t okay to throw and hit. I asked her to apologize for throwing things at me. She did. We hugged. I told her she still needed a punishment. She agreed that she wouldn’t play with any phone or tablet until tomorrow.

Then it was my turn. I apologized for losing my temper. I explained to her that sometimes Mommy gets frustrated and angry. I explained to her that it wasn’t okay for me to scare her. I explained to her that me screaming was inappropriate. I apologized. She beamed at me, gave me a big hug, and told me it was okay. I said, “I still need a punishment. What do you think it should be?” She said I needed a Time Out. I agreed, and I told her to let me know when I could come out. She came back a few minutes later and let me out. Then she apologized to Pappy for the way she acted at the store.

Everything is good now. There was only one small fit when I wouldn’t hand her the phone, but she playing with her GG now.


4 thoughts on “Why I Let My Toddler Give Me Time Out

  1. I served many Time Outs ‘imposed’ by my son back in the day. I think it’s important that children learn that adults aren’t always right and that we, too, get in trouble sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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