Thursday, September 8, 2011

U. T. O.

Today I did one of those much-hated but totally useful parenting techniques:  a time-out.

What is a time out?

It is not a punishment.  No one gets hurt.  There's no cruelty involved.

It is not a threat.  The method is all about influence not power.

It is a STOP of everything and everybody.  All stimuli ceases and you remove the child from the situation.   It doesn't have to be a chair but if you are giving a time-out at home, then it makes sense to have a routine place.  It can be while you are out but get prepared for stares that you can't care about.

I gave Mr. Boo a "time-out" today on the streets of Giza.  I was only a few blocks from home but I made the decision that I don't want to accept a loud whiny kid walking with me.  First, I told him to stop fussing and he didn't.  I then stopped walking with him and stood there on the side of the road for one silent minute.

I named his behavior, "You were fussing."

I named the expected behavior or rule, "You are not allowed to fuss through the streets."

I told how he needed to make recompense, "You need to say, 'sorry'."

He said it.  If he hadn't said it, then it would have been another minute.  It's a drag.  I hate it BUT there are some behaviors which are worth the effort.  Do I want him to fuss through the streets?  No.  I'd rather nip it in the bud.

After he appologized, he got a hug and we walk on.

However, he decided to fuss and whine again.  So, we stopped again for another minute.

After that, he walked home quietly. 

The problem is that my child rearing techniques are totally alien here.  If I had yelled at him and told him that he was a dog or a donkey, no one would have batted an eye.  If I had threatened to take off my shoe and whack him with it, everyone would have accepted my behavior.  Even if I had slapped him around, as long as it wasn't his head, then most witnesses would have been OK.

So, instead of ignoring, accepting or approving, I get concerned apprehension and upset even.  For Western parenting techniques in Egypt are as uncommon as U.F.O sightings.  Call it a U.T.O. sighting.

Unidentified Time-Out

I have to have very thick skin to handle the mumblings, stares and worries from passers-by.  Yes, they are scared for my boy.  They are very concerned that my silence is more frightening than any yelling they've ever heard.  They don't know what to do with it.  Even my husband was embarrassed and unsure (though he knows what a time-out is, he didn't want one on the street).

So, I'm going to keep doing as I see fit with my least until the mothership tells me otherwise.


Mai to the Extreme said...

As salaamu alaykum!

That's exactly how you have to do it - your way. If you were to give in to the techniques used here in the Middle East, you would be living with a mini-Hitler, thinking he can run the show with not a manner, ounce of discipline, or iota of self control in sight.

I just think of it like this: I don't have to spend the rest of my life with other people's values and ideologies, I have to spend the rest of my life with my family and the results of my actions. Better to be an alien to the people, than an alien to Allah!

Keep on trucking Yosra, my sweet! It's all good.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Mai,

I LOVE YOU! Thanks so much for the exact words I needed to hear. You are absolutely right. I don't live with the entire population of Egypt. I live with my boy (and my husband when he's not sulking downstairs). And I need my boy to have my imprint. Those people will not be accountable to Allah for that moment on the street. I will. Alhumdulillah that I have made a conscious decision to raise him through empowering him not degrading him. Inshahallah, that's my goal and inshahallah I will see results I am hoping for.

Yes, it's allllll good :)

Anisah said...

Have you and your husband talked about discipline? How does he discipline your son?

It was the same way in Jordan.


Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Anisah,

Good question!

It seems as if discipline in this part of the world is a knee-jerk reaction instead of a forethought.

My husband knows full well that I will give my son time-outs. He just didn't imagine that I'd give it on the street. There's this whole DON'T LET EVERYONE IN ON YOUR BUSINESS facade which goes on. I'm sure you know this from being in Jordan.

He is still mad at me for making a spectacle of myself (by stopping in the narrow street though I wasn't obstructing anyone's way). In the end, I really have to remember that my son's upbringing in my duty and my husband helps me with that end. He does not have veto power over my decisions regarding Mr. Boo. I do believe that my ways (which I use in my teaching) benefit children into becoming responsible adults inshahallah.

My husband's ways are a mix of cajolling, teasing, being stern, being cold, appeasing, bribing and giving tons of affection and praise. It's the way here. So much emotion is heaved on the kids! Makes them very moody beings, in my opinion.

I'm much more direct and matter-of-fact. I like to tell my son the truth and the reasons why we do something. When he refused to take medicine this week, I had him go look in the mirror to see how sick he appeared. When he came back, he was ready to take it. I need him to understand cause and effect and to find the impetus inside himself. I don't like a lot of forcing from the outside but rather a inner propelling which is generated by the child.

In the end, I do think that both my hub and I are shaping my boy. Neither of us is perfect but inshahallah the blend of our techniques will prepare Mr. Boo for his life which will be better the East and the West.

Keep asking good questions :)

ellen557 said...

I agree with your actions completely sister! Just standing out is hard in that sort of society so I applaud you for doing the right thing for your child. Because in the end, that's your parenting style, you're his mother - that is natural and organic for him, if that makes sense. Would changing your style for one 'punishment' (so to speak) actually work? Probably not, I can see it scaring him more than anything. Good on you :D

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Ellen,

Nice to see you. It is hard to be different in a society which loves conformity. Or, maybe I should say that the regular people are expected to conform and only the stars are allowed to be wacky and different. So, I just need to prove I'm a star ;)

Ya, I have to remember that I'm doing what my son has always known. I believe in the validity of time-outs. I have tried some of the Egyptian methods and have seen them work for others. For me? Ya, it doesn't feel right---like an act. I'd rather keep it real and have my son feel that.

Keep coming back! You've always had good comments :)

Anonymous said...

"Makes them very moody beings, in my opinion."

A hahaha! Very well put! Never a truer statement! With much love though of course :)

- Halimah