July 30, 2007

The Voice of Reason

Swee’Pea has been testing the rules lately. By testing, I mean she’s been whacking and pushing TheMonk at various times throughout the day. This, of course, earns her an immediate two-minute timeout. At the end of the timeout, Swee’Pea must say she’s sorry before we’ll let her out.

This past weekend was another chapter in testing the rules. Saturday morning around 9:15 a.m. Swee’Pea was sent to timeout for hitting her brother. At the end of the timeout, Mommy decides that Swee’Pea has been through this routine enough where a simple “sorry” just isn’t good enough. Swee’Pea has to say why she’s sorry. Swee’Pea is asked by Mommy to say “Sorry for hitting.” This is a request that Swee’Pea is more than capable of complying with and the feeling is that Swee’Pea needs to make the connection for why she’s getting all of these timeouts.

So, two-minutes after being put in timeout, Mommy asks Swee’Pea to say she’s sorry for hitting. Swee’Pea refuses. Mommy explains that if she does not say she’s sorry for hitting, she will go back into timeout for another two minutes. Apparently Swee’Pea is okay with this as she still refuses Mommy’s request. So she gets another timeout.

Two minutes go by. Swee’Pea refuses to say she’s sorry for hitting. Back into timeout she goes.

Another two minutes go by. She’s still not budging. Back into timeout she goes.

About this time I come down the stairs from showering as we are planning on leaving at 10:00 a.m. for a birthday party down the street. Mommy has to go up and get ready but explains the situation. We decide that I will continue to see if I can get Swee’Pea to say she’s sorry for hitting. Mommy goes upstairs and soon after, Swee’Pea’s two minutes are up.

I try my best to explain to her why she needs to say she’s sorry for hitting. It’s not good enough and back into timeout she goes.

By this time, TheMonk definitely senses something is different about these timeouts. After each two minutes are announced by the beeping of the cooking timer, TheMonk shouts out, “ALL DONE, TIMEOUT! ALL DONE, SWEE’PEA!!”

But Swee’Pea, unfortunately, is not done. She still refuses to say the magic phrase. It is now almost 9:45 a.m. It has been a half hour of timeouts and patient explanations of why she needs to say she’s sorry for hitting. But the girl is determined.

At one point, TheMonk approaches the timeout area, gets down on his knees and looks Swee’Pea in the face and pleads, “Swee’Pea! Sorry for hitting! All done timeout!”

It is a sweet, anguishing moment to see TheMonk so exasperated with the stubbornness of his sister. He has been waiting for her to finish her timeout so they can go play and she is not cooperating. It’s killing him and he tries to be the voice of reason for his little sister who is clearly not going to be playing by any body’s rules than her own. If she’d only just say “Sorry for hitting” all this would be done.

Finally, Mommy returns and decides that she will take Swee’Pea upstairs and talk to her while getting her ready for the party. Whatever was said, I know one thing for sure…

She never did say she was sorry for hitting.

Why do I sometimes feel like I’m losing the war?


  1. You’re not losing “the war”; you’re creating great kids.
    Losing the war would have been putting her in time out and then giving in the first time.
    You guys took the hard road and it will pay off in the end.


    Comment by Taste Like Crazy — July 31, 2007 @ 4:35 am

  2. I agree with Taste like Crazy. You’re not losing the war. You are teaching them well. Good for sticking to your guns for so long.

    Comment by Julie — July 31, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  3. Welcome to my world. You have a strong-willed daughter.

    Personally, if it were me, she would have sat on timeout until the apology came out. Party? What party? You would not believe how fast apologies come when a kid is told they will miss something they really want to go to because of their behavior. And sometimes, saying sorry is not enough to recoup the lost privilege. Just ask Ane.

    Comment by Deanna — July 31, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  4. Your kids crack me up! One who won’t apologize, and another who will even if he didn’t do anything!

    Comment by Samantha Jo Campen — July 31, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

  5. Because you are…losing the war, that is. You’re trying to get a two year old to understand adult rationale. Where are these timeouts taking place? Some place where it’s fun or comfortable or there’s stuff to do? When you’re trying to train a kid cognitively, i.e., reward and punishment, they both have to be meaningful to the kid.

    Comment by By Jane — July 31, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  6. It’s my first visit to your blog. I found it at the Blogger’s Choice Awards where you are nominated for Hottest Daddy Blogger. Your post today was really down to earth and got me wondering about my own disciplinary tactics (and sometimes the lack thereof). Why not add a brag badge so people can vote for this site? I noticed there’s one on Blogfathers. :)

    Comment by dani — July 31, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  7. This is an excellent post. I got frustrated just reading it.

    Comment by William — August 1, 2007 @ 5:06 am

  8. Well, I suppose you could put her in the pantry, in the dark and close the door for her time out…but wait she LIKES it in there. Fasten your seat belts you are in for the ride of your life.

    Comment by Grandmother — August 1, 2007 @ 11:09 am

  9. Not losing at all. She may have even forgot but was just too stubborn to admit she didn’t remember. I’ve had that happen. But, as long as there’s not back-downage, you’re cool…

    And TheMonk’s reaction is priceless. It shows you know what you’re doing with both of ‘em :)

    Comment by L.A. Daddy — August 1, 2007 @ 11:33 am

  10. Of course you’re losing. We’re all losing. But just a few battles here and there, not the war. As long as you keep a clear strategy based on the love/consistency/respect trifecta, which you have, and have an exit plan (for when they turn 18) it’ll be fine.

    Comment by Keith — August 1, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  11. It’s a girl thing.

    Morgan sat in timeout for almost an hour one day for the exact same reason. I’m sure she’s the source of at least a few of these gray hairs…

    Comment by Stacy — August 2, 2007 @ 7:13 am

  12. That’s our daughter. Although she’s still learning her three languages and only making gurgling sounds at 11 months, she’s one stubborn woman. Things have gotten better but her stubbornness is off the charts. I can see myself in many similar situations as you and your wife.


    Comment by AdventureDad — August 5, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  13. [...] Actually, I think we (okay, Mommy – I had nothing to do with this) might have discovered a way of dealing with Swee’Pea that doesn’t include 30-minute timeouts. Instead of automatically sending Swee’Pea to timeout today, Mommy tried to redirect Swee’Pea’s frustration or anger. She showed Swee’Pea it was okay to hit a ball or a pillow but not Jonathan and then let Swee’Pea unload on the inanimate object. After a couple times of this, Swee’Pea pretty much stopped hitting altogether. [...]

    Pingback by Childs Play x2 — Because having one just wasn’t enough. » Who are you and what did you do with my daughter? — August 5, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

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