You were frustrated. Your vocabulary, while expanding rapidly, was inadequate to express your feelings – so you lashed out at me and hit me in the face. You knew you were wrong. I could see it in your eyes as I told you “No! We don’t hit.
And then I added something I haven’t had to add before… “You are getting a timeout!”
I picked you up and placed you in the nearest corner. I wondered how you would react. Would you stay there? Would you understand what was happening? I needn’t have wondered, however, because even at 20 months, you seem to understand everything. You sat there for the duration of the timeout – which was only about a minute but seemed so much longer.
When I told you that timeout was done, I picked you up onto your feet and it was clear that you wanted to make amends. Your mother was sitting nearby and you sought comfort in her arms and then you turned to me and toddled into my arms and gave me a hug and then a kiss. You were sorry.
And so it begins. For me, I am sometimes torn between what needs disciplining (although in this case, hitting was clearly deserving of punishment) and what needs to be encouraged. For instance, you run away from me often, laughing mischievously as you escape my clutches. You throw food onto the ground when you don’t want to eat it and you sometimes turn a deaf ear when you don’t want to hear what I’m saying.
And while I am contemplating what to do, I am often reminded of the saying, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” I am keenly aware that how I shape your reaction to authority will have an impact on who you become. Yes, I want you to be polite and courteous, but I also want you to feel comfortable challenging authority and following your heart rather than following someone else’s plan for you (and every other child). You are unique. You are special. You can be anything you want to be, little girl. I want you to be sure of that.
So let’s hope this timeout only prevents you from hitting people in the face.
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