Monday, April 06, 2009

Time Out!

As seems to be the norm with two very active pre-school age children in the house, fights frequently take place.

Actually, the majority of the feuds here are due mainly to Maya's being a very bossy big sister. The fact she is a tad jealous of her little brother also figures into this too, I'm sure.

Anyway, it is inevitable that no matter what toy it is that Kurtis reaches for, Maya wants it and she wants it then and there. NOW! Share? Not part of her vocabulary most of the time.

She either just moves over and grabs whatever it is Kurtis has and in her way of thinking, that is it. It's all over and done with but the shouting. And that shouting -no, make that screaming and screeching - begins as soon as she touches his hand because he knows what's going on and that Maya is taking his prized possession from him!

Then with his screaming, comes reprimands from whatever adult happens to be present -me, Mom, Dad. Usually takes a couple shout-outs to Maya to tell her to stop taking whatever she has snatched from him. Which then is followed by more screaming and shrieking on her part because she has now been so horribly wronged by those evil "peoples" -as she often refers to us, the adults in the house.

Tonight was no different. Kurtis had his little hand on what Maya calls "the little peoples" -those tiny characters that fit into her doll house or other toys along those lines -cars, games, etc. The fact she was engrossed initially in something totally different is of no consequence. She saw he had one of those tiny doll figures and she had to have it so along with grabbing it from him, she added a bit of insult to injury by giving him a smack too upside his arm.

The upshot of that was she was told to go to timeout -right then and there. (Timeout means she is to sit on the bottom step at the landing of the stairs, off the living room.) She refused to obey that command and her dad took her then, kicking and screaming all the way, to the stair step and parked her there. Which brought on more loud noises along the way and after he deposited her too!

While I agree that she has to learn, has to be disciplined about her behavior -not just to her brother but to other children in school or in the general public as well, I don't like to see her put there without also trying to calm her, to try to get her to listen and sometime then, hopefully in the not too distant future, to comprehend the why of the punishment so she will then grasp the reason as to what happens when one does not behave properly.

It took me a good while to get her to simply quiet down for a few seconds so I could talk to her, quietly, and try to explain that no, you don't just grab and take a toy from your brother -or any child -like she had done and also, that you shouldn't hit other children -or hit at adults either in situations like this as well.

It was, needless to say, a long drawn out process. I told her she was in timeout and as such, needed to sit on the step for five minutes. She disagreed with me saying "No, only one minute, Gram!" We discussed the number of minutes that had been assigned for her timeout for well over the five minutes she would have had to serve, had she just gone and sat down quietly in the first place.

A little later, Mandy tried to talk to her, quietly, in the bathroom but Maya told her she didn't want to talk to her but wanted to talk to Gram instead. I was pretty surprised by that request cause frequently I am the one causing her distress at being put in time out. But I went into the bathroom to see what was going on and she came over to me, arms open wide and said she needed to give me a hug.

Now I ask you -who can possible resist that anyway?

Well, the hug was accepted but in doing that, I also reminded her that no matter what, I will always love her but when she isn't a nice little girl -hits her brother, pushes him down, grabs toys from him and won't share, then Gram doesn't always like actions like that.

We keep asking her when she becomes the big bully sister, if she would like it if Kurtis or another child or if one of us were to hit her or kick, or knock her down, would she like that? And she understands that -at least for the moment anyway.

But this is not a problem that is specific to children with autism. It's generally a problem with most all children in that age range. They don't automatically know how to share, how to treat other children and often, their reactions -NT or autistic alike -are to push, shove, kick, hit, even bite.

The thing with autistic children is getting their understanding of why behavior like these is bad, wrong, etc., on a level they can some day comprehend.

And that -the time element -that is required, the repetition needed to explain over and over and over again, that a particular behavior is undesirable -that's the really difficult part.

But I do believe eventually, the comprehension will come and she'll learn to be a little more gentle with her brother. Hopefully that she will also transfer that knowledge over to her dealings with other children she encounters in her school group now and after she enters into kindergarten in the fall and begins her formal educational process.

No, it's not going to be the smoothest road ahead but it's the road we have to take, have to follow through with it if ever there are to be any positive results.


HalfCrazy said...

Haha, that's so cute! Fighting is normal, it may seem irritating to some adults but I find the chaos fun, for some reason! I like Maya's bossy attitude, maybe because I can relate to her. Sort of. LOL.

Kids are sometimes like that. They want their grandparents more because they are more understanding, maybe. I don't know what's the magic behind that. I've seen a lot of scenes wherein Grandparents are the only ones that can calm down kids.

Hammer said...

Sounds like how my weekend went. constant fighting, jealousy, kicking, shooting the bird etc..

When I went to go talk to my oldest she hid under the bed and wouldn't come out.

I had to take the bed apart board by board.

Kids...I love em but their irrational side is going to send me over the deep end.

Mary said...


I remember well going through this with Brandon. Yes, all children have such behaviors, but it's a little more difficult to make children with autism understand that though their behavior is unacceptable, they are still loved.

Maya will get it, but it will take time. She and Kurtis seem to be gaining progress in leaps and bounds. No child likes to be put on timeout and autistic children even less so. However, they do need to know when their behavior is wrong.

Keep up the great work with the kids. It will all pay off one day. Lots of patience, hugs and love does wonders.

Hope all is well with you.

Red said...

Priceless! The constant act of repeating oneself gets old and tedious! But I think in the end it is worth it.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

It looks like you guys are doing a wondeful job with Maya. She sounds like a regular precousious child.

Suldog said...

MY WIFE and I visited some friends of ours with two sons. I am almost always immediately recognized by kids as just a big kid myself. So, I'm playing with the kids, and one of the kids does something he's not supposed to, so his mother tells him he has to take timeout.

The rule in their house is one minute of timeout per year of age. So, he's sentenced to 8 minutes. MY WIFE pipes up and says, "Didn't Jim pretty much cause this? Shouldn't he have to take timeout, too?"


Trying to set an example for the kids, I go and join the 8-year-old in the timeout zone. Except, I am sentenced (at that time) to 45 MINUTES!

I got time off for good behavior, but still.

Cheffie-Mom said...

I enjoy reading your blog. Blessings to you and your family.

Skittles said...

That's very well put, Miss Jeni. I can only imagine the extra effort everyone gives. I know it's out of love, of course. :)

I can't believe she's starting kindergarten??? I think when I first "met" you she was only TWO! Holy cow.

Smalltown RN said...

Discipline for any child can be challenging. I was and still am a huge advocate for "Time Out" One thing I always said to my girls after disciplining them was "I love you, it's your behvaiour I don't like"

I can only imagine the increased challenges you are faced with in trying to discipline a child with Autism. But like you said they need to learn how to behave and what is acceptable and not acceptable. I commend all of you for all your work in trying to instill this lessons with Mya and Kurtis. Big hugs to all in your house!

Oh by the way did you see my explanation on how to pronounce my daughters names and the origin of thier names? I responded to you in my comment section.

Have a great day girl!

Skittles said...

I just tried to email you this link, but I got an undeliverable error..

fermicat said...

Maya has you and the rest of the family trying to help her, and that will make a difference. This is probably quite the learning experience for Kurtis as well. How does he react to these situations (other than the shouting)?

Mrs4444 said...

Dang-I think my comment got eaten! I left a suggestion for you; instead of adding minutes, re-start the five minutes each time she becomes non-compliant with the timeout. Also supply a visual timer so that she can see how much time is left. Because kids with autism are usually very visual, this could be helpful. I'm glad you have so much patience and persistance :) Keep it up!

terri said...

This all sounds so normal, but what a blessing you are to Maya. She obviously appreciates the patience you displayed with her, as evidenced by her wanting to hug you.

Skittles said...

Sorry for the spamming, but I want anyone with kids to watch the video here: