I like to think of myself as a progressive mom; unattached to the traditional mind set of how kids should think and behave and catering more to a free spirited kid. But recently it became clear that I have not been operating from such a progressive place when it comes to disciplining my 3-year-old. After struggling for months with using time-outs as a way to try and redirect him and feeling like the end result was never achieved, I had an epiphany. I was walking my son, Gus, to his room, my hand grasping his tightly so he couldn’t wiggle away, him screaming and resisting the entire way, and I thought, who is this time out really for anyway?? In theory it is suppose to be for him, but in reality it is for me and everyone else in the house in serious need of a break but we aren’t getting a break! It was an a-ha moment for sure and led me to get more creative with redirection and discipline; I call it creative interventions of a progressive mama (haha).
The Creative Capsule is a big part of my family’s lives. Gus was there when we first gutted and built the Airstream out. He even helped to wash the windows and walls for its big debut a year and a half ago. Because of this he not only understands the Capsule as someplace mommy goes to work, but he believes that it is in some way his special place, where he feels comfortable and can do fun and creative projects. He lights up every time he enters the walls of the Airstream and moves about with ease and a sense of ownership.
I realize that my creative intervention was really just taking the creative out of the capsule and bringing it into our home. Gus’s moments of testing, boundary pushing and expressing his need for independence are redirected and the time becomes opportunities to get him to strengthen his creativity, fine motor, and problem solving skills. And me, I’m redirected to notice the experience of watching him enjoy learning and growing from a situation that would have been filled with tears, screaming and frustration. No more “go to time out” instead; I say, “go to the table. He typically stops his screaming and runs as fast as he can excited to see what I have in store.
For convenience, I keep the tricks of the creative intervention trade in a cute box brimming with supplies to encourage hand’s on play and crafting. I simply bring it to the table and let Gus choose an activity from the jar, which is filled with all the options available in the box. The box includes colorful noodle beads that can be used for sorting, counting or stringing, lacing boards, scissors for cutting paper, tracing sheets, play foam for molding, a checkered flag for running the sidewalks (Gus likes me to wave the flag as his starting cue), puzzles, and markers for drawing.
Amazing things happen to us both in these creative intervention moments–Gus quickly forgets what he was mad about or fighting against and I quickly remember how amazing a kid he is rather than wanting to lock him in a closet! It also reminds me to look hard at the amazing journey of parenthood and remember that every day my children, through their resiliency and unconditional love are teaching me about myself, about people, and about enjoying the best in life. I’m inspired by the hard work Gus does in these moments, the way he can engage, play, and create without fear. Call me a progressive mama, but I’d trade that over a time out any day!