Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Using Hot Wheels to Tell Time

Little Blue's been a little bit of an attitude lately, which tends to be focusing on taking forever and a day to finish a meal. Monday it hit full steam when it took him nearly 30 minutes to finish a slice of cheese, bologna, applesauce, and four nacho cheese chips. I took what was left and threw it in the trash and told him to go into timeout for 5 minutes.

Around these parts, time out doesn't start until he gets quiet. I sat down feeding the twin girls their bottles while he pitched a fit on the stairs. Every time he got quiet, I told him timeout started. 10 seconds later, he'd start fussing again and I told him timeout restarted.

Eventually I used a little Daddy scare tactic. I got in his face and asked him, "Is it more fun to fuss on the stairs or play in your room?"

"" (note, he made some funny faces, so we both chuckled a little bit, but we knew I was serious. It's so hard to keep your resolve when they make cute funny faces, especially when you're trying to be tough)

"Good, Keep your mouth shut for 5 minutes and you can get up."

I ticked off the minutes, telling him how many he had left. By the time he was done, he was in timeout for 29 minutes.

Afterwards, like always, we talked about why he was in timeout, and how he needs to do less playing and talking at the dinner table and a little more eating.

Then, his jaw dropped.

"To finish your punishment, I want you to get all of your hot wheels out and put them next to each other, side by side."

"What Daddy?!"

"You heard me. Go put them side by side on the floor in your room. I'll change Teal's diaper and I'll be up in a minute to show you something."


I did a quick pitstop on Teal and put her in the playpen with sister, hoping that it wouldn't turn into a battle royale in the five minutes this was going to take.

"All right dude, I want you to pick five green hot wheels (green being his favorite color) and put them next to each other, all by themselves."


"That represents how many minutes I said you needed to be in timeout for. Can you count them for me?" He makes his best transformer sound effect while he picks them out and places them side by side. "Awesome! That was fast!"

"Thanks Daddy!"

"All right, you want me to show you how long you were in timeout for?"

Sheepishly, "okay..."

I grab the closest cars I can and I start lining them up, 29 of them. This whole time he's making sounds of "wow" and "oh my goodness."

"All right, how many minutes did I tell you timeout was again?"

"I don't know."

"Count your cars."

"Five! You told me timeout was five minutes!"

"Good, let me count how many minutes you were actually in timeout." I count to 29.

"Good job Dad!"

"Thanks. Now, which is bigger?" He points to the 29 cars. "Excellent. Which is smaller?" He points to the five cars. "Perfect."

"All right, which would you rather be in timeout for? The bigger or the smaller?"

He didn't even have to think about it as he pointed to the five cars. "This one."

"I thought so. But because you fussed and whined, you were actually in timeout for this long one. So next time, when you go in timeout, are you going to spend some time fussing and whining and be the long line or calm down and keep quiet for the short one."

"The short one Daddy!"

"Leaves more time for fun and games, doesn't it?"


"All right, I need to go check on your sisters. I want you to stay up here and run a race or two with these cars, then leave them out. I helped you make the mess, we'll come up and put them away together before naptime, sound good."

"All right! Love you Daddy!"

"Love you too dude."

3 highly regarded thoughts:

Had to comment because my son is a big HotWheels fan (and green is his favorite color too!) I think this idea could definitely work on my little guy. Thanks for the tip!

Time out works like that at our house, too, with us starting and stopping the timer. The cars make a great visual!! I'll have to try that next time with my g'sons! Thanks!

that is such a sweet story :) how cool!

wow your lucky little fella does have alot of matchbox cars.

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