The effectiveness of time out, bribing with trains, and bedtime rituals

Time out is a tried and true punishment technique. I have utilized this technique very effectively many times... until this weekend.

I very politely asked my son to clean his room. He said no. That's fine, this is our "Do your chores" routine. I ask nicely and give him copious amounts of praise if he actually does what I ask at stage 1 of the routine. He usually doesn't, so I tell him. Still he usually doesn't do it. Then I threaten the TIME OUT. That sometimes gets the trick done, but when it doesn't and he goes into time out screaming like I threw him across the room and broke his arm, he quickly acquiesces and does what I asked then told him to do.

On Saturday, though, it was a different story completely. Saturday he pulled all of his books out of his bookshelf. I very nicely said, "Why don't we pick up our books?" He quickly responded with a smile and said, "No I go to time out, Mommy." He let out a fake (totally fake because he was smiling) "Waaah Waaah Waaah" as he went to his time out chair and said, "See mommy? I go time out." And he sat there dangling his feet for probably 5 minutes.

I was flabbergasted. I had no idea what to do at that point. I sat down on the couch and played my 5 lives of Candy Crush Saga while he sat in time out. When he got up, I said "Are you going to pick up your books?"

He responded, "No, I stay time out." and he sat right back down.

My jaw dropped. I still had no idea what to do. So I got up and started looking through my CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. He came and sat on my lap and asked me to read to him. I said no, and put it away, demonstrating and commenting "See? Mommy's a big girl, she puts her books away. You need to put YOUR books away."

He said, "No, I'm going to take a nap." Since I wasn't going to let him off the hook that easily, I went into his room and started working in his closet. I told him he could only get out of bed if he was going to clean. I started putting some of his favorite toys in the closet. While doing so, I bumped a box with a toy train and it started to make the railroad crossing sounds. He JUMPED from the bed and said, "I want to play with train!" I told him he had to pick up his books and clean his room.

All of a sudden, he was at work! His books were stashed on the bookshelf, his toys were being put away (with direction from me on where they go), we took a break for lunch, then back to work. Once we were done, he very sweetly asked to play with the train... he even said "PLEASE" without having to be reminded. I took the train out and he played with it for hours. It was amazing.

I know you are not supposed to bribe your children to do things, but what else do you do when your other tried and true methods become useless???

So, then came bedtime. I had a friend stop by late in the evening, so I set the boy up in my room with his favorite TV show, and he watched nicely. I changed his pull-up (since potty training is going about as well as time outs). Then I went in to check on him... he was butt naked. I called him over, put on a new pull up and told him to keep it on. Later, at bedtime, I picked him up and noticed a wet spot on my bed! HE PEED MY BED!!! I felt his pull up, and it was dry... grrrr... so I yelled at him to go on the potty! He went on the potty, and did an impressive number 1 given that he had just done the same in my bed. I praised him (because I can't keep yelling at him if he's going to the potty)... and I sent him to his bed for bedtime.

Going to his own bed is new. He usually sleeps with me because I have dealt with the (very literally) 3-hours of SCREAMING at the top of his lungs at bedtime when he goes to his own bed. I have not wanted to deal with that, so simple solution, we sleep in mommy's bed. I wasn't going to deal with that Saturday because I had to change my bedding and wash the soiled stuff.

To my surprise... he went to bed without a fuss! I introduced him to his new night light and flash light, and he asked me to sit next to his bed for a while. I did. I sang him his bedtime songs and kissed him good night. He wanted me to stay longer, but I had work to do and told him so. He tried to get up a few times, but I sternly told him "NO." And after about 45 minutes he listened (no crying!). I was amazed!

Sometime in the middle of the night, though, he did wind up in my bed. I couldn't care less about that, I figure we'll tackle the 2 a.m. fights at a later date. He fell asleep in HIS bed, and I couldn't have been more proud.

Then Sunday night came... oh boy. While there were only very minor meltdowns last night compared to the usual nights when I put him in his bed, there WERE meltdowns... SEVERAL of them. Mostly involving the fake cry, but still. Then he tried to appeal to my loving mother side saying he wanted to cuddle... *HEART BREAKING!* I ALWAYS want to cuddle with that little brat and he just wants to run away!

I stood my ground and made him stay in his bed. Sunday night was a long process. We started the routine around 9:00 p.m., a late start because my schedule was screwed up for the day and I didn't get home from shopping until 8:45-ish. When I finally passed out myself, he was still tossing and turning at 11:30 p.m. (ugh)... I got up around 1 and checked, he was sound asleep with his "baby," his blankie, and his flashlight. Then sometime between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. he climbed into my bed. Then we were up and out by 6:30 a.m. The poor kid was TIRED, but it was his own fault!

*sigh* I have no idea what I am going to do about making time outs more effective... or about bed time... but he did fall asleep in his own bed two nights in a row... that's a GREAT start :)

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