Saturday, December 16, 2006

Interesting family dynamics

We are frequently very amused by the antics of our two daughters. Especially as the younger one is getting old enough for her personality to start showing itself. Child number one is a serious child most of the time. She likes to have fun, mind you, but she also feels a desperate need to boss her sister around. On the other hand, Child number two is an action child. She loves to climb and loves anything with wheels. They will occasionally play together and have giggle parties. We have noticed though that it is the younger one who will dump water or leaves or what not on her sister's head. The younger one (only two) initiates pillow fights. Sometimes the older one thinks it's funny, sometimes she doesn't.

This brings me to a funny episode we had yesterday during a timeout. Which illustrates why we don't do timeouts in our family much. The older child received a timeout. This is a new discipline method for us, because our previous method didn't take her enough away from fun things to learn the lesson. However, up until yesterday, the timeouts had always occurred while child number two was down for a nap. This time child number one was placed in her chair and a timer set. Child number two sees this and proceeds to pull up a chair next to her sister. She seems to think it is a new game because she is happily sitting next to her sister in a timeout. Child number one, starts to freak out because she doesn't think her sister should be doing that. She breaks the rule of quiet during timeouts to try to stop her sister from imitating her timeout. It doesn't work and Mommy has to lengthen her timeout because she broke the rule of her timeout. So child number one has to sit in torment while her sister sits quietly next to her and Mommy has a hard time not laughing about it all. Needless to say, Mommy and Daddy had a good laugh over it after the kids were in bed.

We can see that the family dynamics between them will be very interesting in the coming years. Now, what will happen when baby number 3 arrives, will probably stir things up a bit.


Anonymous said...

Question... how did you get your child to stay in time out quietly??? We do timeouts occasionally, for lack of a better method, but our daughter screams as if we are killing her the entire time. I know she is doing it to get attention and we don't give her the attention that she is seeking but it does not stop her. I'd love to find a method that she responds to better (or just get her to stop screaming!!) so I'm open to any suggestions. :) And we have similar funny dynamics in our house too, I can't wait to hear what it's like with three!

Tonya Power said...

I never said that timeouts were working for us. Our daughter is an extreme introvert. That means that she can find endless entertainment in her own little head. By giving her timeouts, we are essentially taking away her props that assist her imagination. Being quiet during timeouts is trying to cut off another method of entertainment. If she makes noise after being warned, I lengthen the time for her timeout. I do a similar thing for nap-time. She hates to take naps, so I insist that she is quiet when others are napping (including me) or else I make her lie down to take one too. Funniest part of that particular timeout was that having her sister sitting next to her and imitating her was worse punishment in her eyes than anything we could have come up with.

Anonymous said...

Tim here--that would make me Mr. Domestic Entropy. :)

As Tonya said, the problem with Child Number 1 is that she finds such interesting things to do, even when she's stuck in a corner. After all, just look at that plaster on the wall--if you stare at it just right, it starts to look like a bunch of faces. Or rabbits. Or we can count the number of specks of dust on the ceiling fans. Or we can look out the textured glass window at what's happening outside, which we can't see directly (because of the glass texture), but that just gives us more to imagine.

Ah, but then Little Child Number Two comes up, and though she doesn't speak in full sentences yet, you can tell by her eyes and body language that she would be saying "What'cha doin', sis? Huh? Huh? Can I do it too? It looks like fun. And you're my big sister and I want to be with you and be just like you. And oh, by the way, were you playing with that? Because if you weren't, could I do it? It looks like so much fun...."

And of course, the moment that happens, Child Number One has now been pulled entirely back to the present, completely unable to go on counting plaster rabbits or what-naught; she now has to deal with the fact that her sister is copying her! And she's playing with my stuff!


And it's at that point that the timeout starts to be effective. You see, it's all part of the plan. We parents may not always be very smart, but we can occasionally be pretty sneaky. :)