Time-Out for Sophie
By Rosemary Wells
Let me recuse myself first of all by saying I am totally confused by the concept of the time-out. It seems to hold the same weight as “Go to your room!” or “I want you to think about what you have done.” The only problem I can see with this approach is that it has a diminishing return in that many children’s attention span vanishes when these strategies are used and they sometimes seem to be as instructional as the old threat of “Wait till your father gets home!” Is that still even effective or even used anymore? Seems to me, kids’ memories are fleeting and will have forgotten what they are being punished for by the time Daddy gets home. Not to mention, Daddy becoming known as The Enforcer! Yikes!
Enter little Sophie. This is one sweetie of an adorable mouse that you could eat with a spoon, she’s so cute, but she has entered the TERRIBLE TWOS! Parents are baffled as they may be left wondering where their formerly compliant one-year old has disappeared to? The face is the same, check, clothing, check, but the behavior has changed.
For those of the uninitiated, it is where the two-letter word “NO” comes into frequent use by toddlers. In other words, they are starting to assert their own individuality and assertiveness over their environment. It can be a trying time for parents, but I assure you it does pass! That’s the good news. But as Ms. Wells wisely counsels, strategies can be employed to counter behaviors when they surface, as you wait it out!
Sophie, the mouse, has entered the “two zone” and Mama is in for a learning curve along with Sophie. Just kidding. Parents will nod with recognition as a delicious and obviously painstakingly prepared dinner is set in front of Sophie. It is upended, bowl and all winding up on the floor! Desperation sets in and Mama cooks a duplicate dish with the exact same result. “Time-out for Sophie!”, intones Mama.
Two chances before time-outs seem to be the tactic employed here, as Sophie “helps” Daddy who is folding laundry by spoiling the neatly folded tall pile not once, but TWICE! Hey, it looks like fun and Mama and Daddy are VERY patient parents.
Enter Granny. This is a woman after my own heart. She is kind, patient and loves Sophie too, but is a no nonsense kind of granny in that she believes discipline with consequences also can be seen as a sort of love. When she attempts to read Sophie a story, the toddler co-opts her glasses for herself and then for Mr. Bear. I love Granny’s “turnabout is fair play tactic” as SHE takes a time out – from storytelling! Sophie gets it immediately as she gently puts the glasses back on her Granny’s nose.
But these lessons do bear repeating as Ms. Wells last page confirms. Hey, this IS real life after all and one teachable moment has to be reinforced through repetition. Sophie is seen squirting liquid soap out of the bathtub and echoing the approving words of Granny when Sophie complied during story time – “Good Sophie”! “Good” is still situational as far as Sophie’s concerned. Hey, she’s only two.
Parents will certainly identify with Sophie’s sometimes contrary behavior so common in two-year olds, but then again, there is the Granny moment that will give toddlers pause and moms and dads time to get in “And now a word from our sponsor” in a completely relaxed and endearing setting of a book that not only reflects real life, but provides solutions when it gets toddler intensive! Granny, can you come for a sleep over, PLEASE!
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