Tuesday’s Answers: Therapeutic Correction

I love seeing how you all answered this Tuesday Topic. Thank you so much for taking the time to send your thoughts my way.

Here is Heidi’s question about discipline:

…I have tried time out, but the isolation only feeds her weaknesses. I have tried other forms of discipline and they only make her either rebel harder or victimize herself. I have tried ignoring it but she will persist with the antagonism (sometimes for half days or until sleep time!). Nothing seems to work consistently. And she is only 2!

I have copied excerpts of your great comments in order to avoid this post being excessively long. Click here to view the full comments. This is what you all had to say:

Robin emailed:

….I think we are still stumbling through it. We’ve made mistakes along the way, many I’m afraid, as we’ve walked what seems some days to be blindly through older children adoption, but find good old fashioned love and consistency is key…

I’ve been reading “Have a New Kid by Friday” by Dr. Leman…love it!!!! It puts the consequences of their behavior back on their shoulders and it has literally “freed” me from the arguing, coercing, yelling and the immense frustration I’ve felt for months. And it works! Gotta love that!

..It’s not about me…..it’s not about me….I have to keep telling myself “it’s not about me.” It’s about them/their pain, their hurt, their feelings of loss/abandonment. I’m just the vessel that they are using to release the pain. Worn out emotionally, yes, but when you see the smile, the unconditional hugs of love, I know God has it figured out…I just need to relinquish it to Him to use me to heal these beautiful children he’s blessed me with.

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Blogger Paul and DeeDee said…

I use the time in approach with my toddler. I place her in a corner of the room where she is looking out and not actually in the corner. I stay in the room but do other things and “ignore” her until she calms down.

If she continues to throw a fit I tell her “no fits” and “you need to have self control” (I try to always use the same language and few words). I have an older toddler also so this is modeled for her many times a day and she gets that she is not allowed up until she gets self control.

The time in helps her to not feel isolated but she also is not allowed to get up or do anything until she has self control and I have called her over for her to apologize and give hugs.


Blogger Cat and Mark said…

…”Time Ins” are not a novel concept in the adoption world, but a very brief explanation is that instead of a “time out” typically used in many parenting circles, you don’t send your children away from you – you draw them closer. This may mean just sitting near you, but we have found more extreme time ins to be the most effective.

Our son came home almost 4, but does not have memories pre-orphanage (actually, no real memories pre-us). We worked (continue to work) on getting him accustomed to being in a family and all that entails.

This means he often tries to push us away, prevent us from loving him. If this happens (usually a patter of small things) one of us will scope him up and basically force him to cuddle with us away from everyone else. It may sound very weird, but it works. Sometimes it takes an hour or more. He will fight, hit, kick and try and get away. He resists the affection. But eventually he’ll relax. He’ll allow it. Sometimes he gives it back. And now, he’s started to open up, to talk about the root of the problem…

Blogger Michelle said…

I don’t have a tried and true way of handling misbehavior, in fact .. I am learning a whole new w
ay of parenting as I embark on attachment therapy with my four year old daughter. I am looking forward to reading these responses next week!

I will say one thing. The therapist is helping me to learn how to see past my daughter’s behavior and address the underlying causes of her behavior (fear).

I think that is an important distinction to keep in mind as we parent these vulnerable children.Delete

Blogger Mark and Sarah said…

… I was disciplined with time-outs and spanking. We do not spank our children, and we tried time outs, but they also seemed to exacerbate the problem, not make it better. I recently read a life-changing book. Well, two actually. Playful Parenting, and Positive Discipline for Preschoolers. I learned that children misbehave when they’re feeling discouraged or feel like they don’t belong. Disciplining a child in the traditional way, further discourages them. In order to change behavior, a child must be encouraged. There’s the dilemma! How do you encourage a child while they’re misbehaving and not confuse them or reinforce bad behavior!? The key lies in the parent maintaining a gentle, yet firm response letting them know that the behavior is not okay (but not showing any sign of anger or other emotion) and giving your child a comfortable place to cool off, in our house it’s a play tent. Make it inviting, not punitive. Hug them and love on them extra when they’re misbehaving. I’ve found that spending extra 1:1 time with my son (he also has a younger brother) is really encouraging for him. Playful Parentingfocuses on how important playing down on the floor with our children is to connecting with them and helping them be encouraged…. Delete

Blogger Staci said…

I do not have children from “hard places” yet but all children at some point push boundaries, push away love and reject all they know about good behavior. One book that has really helped me is called “The Power of Positive Parenting.” I reviewed it on goodreads.com if anyone is on that. My email is staci dot hopkin24 at gmail dot com if anyone wants to see the review. It is a blessing because time outs do not work in our house either.Delete

Blogger Audrey said…

…We’ve been using a technique that I learned from another mom. She called it ‘time-in’. She wrote on her blog about holding the child in a chair until the child was able to calm down and regain control of herself. Jacob is much to strong for me to hold that way so we use a modified version where I hold him with my body. I lay on my side on a bed – not his bed – and hold him with my arms and leg. Yes, he fights me but I continue to hold until he is able to calm himself down.

I know that this sounds extreme and those who haven’t had to deal with the behavior issues that we have may not understand this technique at all. My goal is to calmly and firmly establish that I am in control – using my body to restrain Jacob has been VERY effective for us.

We always use the traditional sit in the chair method of time-out first and Jacob knows that if he won’t sit there as directed then we will end up on the bed.

With either method, the ticket out of time-out is eye contact because withholding eye contact is what Jacob uses to distance himself from us. Once he makes eye contact with me, then we go back and redo whatever it was that got us into time-out to begin with. After a successful redo, there are hugs and kis
ses and positive words for making a good choice...

Blogger Donna said…

…We have chosen to save the harsh discipline for matters of safety and lying.

We have instituted
1) time-in’s were they have to stay close to us. This is very effective for our older son who is very social.

2) corner standing in the same room with us, till pouting i done and rational thinking is restored.

3) restitution is big, when things are broken or taken

4) probably the biggest thing we have done though is PRAISE!! They both thrive on praise, don’t we all!! So now I am much more pro-active in finding and praising the good behaviors. Kids from ‘hard places’ generally know punishment, but have had little praise, they will look for affirmation in any way they can get it–even the negative. This has made the biggest and best behavior change in our kids. We praise so much at times that it feels facky, but they really respond to it and behavior is so much better!

Blogger Matt, Sara, Parker and Lleyton Ritzmann said…

…The most effective of which could be deemed a “time in”. I don’t know the best way to describe a time in, but here goes: In the event that he had acted up to the point of needing discipline, we would take him up to his room and sit on his bed with him and hold him (through plenty of kicking/screaming/hitting/scratching/pinching/you name it) until he settled down and understood what he had done wrong and why we were disciplining him. It proved to be an effective way of communicating to him that we weren’t going away. He had dealt with more hardship and loss in his life than anyone should have to deal with, let alone prior to the age of 6, so this method communicated to him that we weren’t leaving. Even though we were upset with him and don’t condone his actions, we are going to be there for him no matter what and we are going to love him no matter what.

On a side note, we found that being in a routine each day and not varying from it, and communicating to him what the routine was and when everything was going to happen, helped diminish the regularity of outbursts…

I am very touched by the degree of honesty shown here. Nobody imagines that they will need to restrain their child while he hits, kicks, etc. This is not the kind of parenting most of us dreamed of, but there are times when it is the only way to keep everyone safe.

Michelle mentioned that she is learning to see past her daughter’s behavior and recognize the root of it, which is fear. That has been so important for me. The hypervigilance, the demands for everything to be fair, the extreme reactions all come from a place of fear in my children’s hearts. They are survivors and every crisis is a matter of “life and death” to them.

I’ve been mulling over Heidi’s question and trying to translate all that I am learning into techniques for a two year old. So many things we do with Dimples, and our other children, seem to be more appropriate for a child who is four and up. However, these are some things that come to mind:

1. Keep a routine, even on weekends. As Matt mentioned, children who have experienced trauma do well with lots of routine. Their lives were chaos and their little brains became accustomed to being at high alert all the time. By providing them with structure, we can help them feel safer. Your weekend routine may be different from during the week, but it is important to tell you child what is going to happen: breakfast, play indoors, go for a walk, lunch, nap, etc.

2. Be intentional about transitions. Eby has a very hard time making transitions, so I prepare him by telling him when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and how he needs to behave when it does happen. Sometimes we practice the behavior I want him to have in advance.

3. Use Time- in. Many of you wrote about this technique. Let’s be honest, when our kids are challenging, we want a break! The last thing we want is to have them sit close by. But in this, as in so many aspects of parenting, our children must come first. Sending a child away is not productive for our kids. I have my kids sit in the “ugly chair” next to the kitchen where they can be close to me. I tell them it is the “think it over” spot. With a two year old I would probably call it the “calming chair” or “quiet place”. They need to sit until they are calm. If they refuse to stay on the chair, we move the laundry room. I detailed all of this in this earlier post. If they refuse the stay in the laundry room, all that remains is holding them, as so many people mentioned.

4. Hold them close and keep them safe. There were many comments about “holding” children until they calm down or gain self-control. I find this very stressful and have to work hard to remain calm. A dysregulated child being held by a dysregulated adult does not result in healing. If you do this, be sure to breathe slowly, pray for your child, and calm yourself by rocking them if possible. I also find it helps to have calming music on, if there is somebody who can turn it on for you. Listening to worship music and focusing my mind on it helps me relax.

If you cannot stay calm and are not sure you are in control of yourself, call your husband, call a friend, call your church. Tell them you need immediate help. If you have no option but to face this on your own, buckle your child safely in her car seat and go for a drive; unless you feel you can’t drive safely. Put music on while you drive. Breathe. Keep yourself and all of your children safe.

I have a guest post coming soon with more ideas on this Tuesday Topic. Thank you one and all for reading, writing, and caring about one another.

This week’s Tuesday Topic will be up tonight!


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Sandee
    November 10, 2009

    This is great. I just ordered Beyond Logic and Consequences….because I have heard so many recommend it.

    My challenge is how to get a teacher and principal to buy into a different way of handling a child. (Homeschooling is not an option, for this single mother.)

  2. christall
    November 10, 2009

    Again, your posts are just what I need to hear/see when I needto hear or see it.

    I hope you know what a blessing you are to families who are walking this journey – sharing your story your thoughts/opinions and experiences have been such a valuable resource for our family (and other families as well).


  3. Jillian and Crew
    November 10, 2009

    We use holding/brushing techniques as we are able and they have worked wonders! It was VERY MUCH a multi-daily thing in the beginning…we will be home one year in Jan…and whiel theya re still great for bonding and we can still do them, they are not "required for him/them to function" anymore…

  4. Stonefox
    November 10, 2009

    This is fabulous! Thank you Lisa and everyone for the help in this area!


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