Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Disciplining Jenelle - Day One!

After my last update, I got a lot of email and comments from many who were concerned as to "how" we were going to be disciplining Jenelle. Many could not understand why it was necessary. Believe me, we realize she has no ability to communicate with us (which could be most of our problem) and that she is mentally retarded. If anyone knows Jenelle well - it would be us! Trust me, we are going to approach this delicately.

On the drive home from UCLA on Monday, Brett and I decided that when Jenelle started crying for no apparent reason (like she usually does in the evenings) that we would put her in her bed for a "time out" each time. This would provide a safe way to keep her by herself. When placing her in her bed, we would explain that she is getting a "time out" for crying (or throwing a tantrum or whatever fits.)

Tuesday night when I got home from work, Jack and Brett were playing a game, and there was no Jenelle to be found. I looked at Brett and said, "Where is Jenelle?" and he smiled and said, "In time out!" When I found her in her room, she was sitting quietly in her bed and looked up at me and smiled. I brought her back out to the living room and she was perfectly happy until we started eating dinner (a favorite time for her to cry out.) As she started crying, I made sure she was OK (checking her diaper, etc.) and then took her to her room for time out. I explained that she was getting a "time out" for throwing a tantrum. After 5 minutes, I retrieved her from the room, and the rest of the evening was fine.

So, the first day went well and to me, it sounds like she is getting the idea. And as cruel as it sounds (if she were a typical child) it has been less stress on us as well.

The saddest thing happened after I put her to bed Tuesday night. We went through our usual routine; dressing, setting up her IV pump, turn out the lights and turn on the music, etc. I was on the computer for a few minutes, intending to check in on her to see if she was asleep, and all of a sudden, I heard her crying. I ran into her room, and she was face down in bed just sobbing. I picked her up and couldn't figure out what was wrong, so I said, "Jenelle, you aren't in "time out" - it's night night time!"... And you know what, she looked at me and smiled a little. I gave her a hug and put her back to bed, reassuring her that is was time to go to sleep. I left again and 5 minutes later she was out!

I'm not sure why she was crying in bed, but it broke my heart a little to think that she could have thought she was in time out without needing it! Also, it makes me thing that she truly understands us more than we know. So, rewarding her good behavior is easy, but I think this "time out" thing will work as long as we talk her through it! I think she has the capability to understand and hopefully "time out" will soon be something we don't need.

Wednesday night was much better. There were no episodes of "crying", but Jenelle did move a lot. As I put her to bed, I reassured her that she had been a good girl this evening, and that it was time for sleep. I think she knows the difference.


Anonymous said...

It really does seem that she knows the difference! Congratulations, it sounds like things are going pretty smoothly.

ellie said...

Disciplining is so hard to get right and it is so important to do it with love. I think you're doing a wonderful job. And I'm glad that Jenelle is responding in this manner.

Naomi said...

This is the approach we took for Callum as well. I know using the bed/crib is supposed to be a "no, no" for time outs but for us it was the only thing that worked. Callum is just now getting the concept of "quiet time" as we call it. Now we just have to say "do you want quiet time?" and the bad behaviour usually stops.

Glad to hear that Jenelle is responding so quickly, you're doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is time to start exploring a different place to have time outs? Glad to know things are going so smoothly!

Leightongirl said...

We use the bed too. It's the safest place, plus Evan KNOWS when he's been "taken out" of the mix. Congrats on your first day.

LJ said...

how about a time out carpet? or chair(i'm not sure if she can sit in a chair)?
Your daughter is beautiful! I've taken the time to read a bit through your blog. You are an inspiration to many.

Tammy and Parker said...

I believe that Jenelle is understanding the difference as well.

What a beautiful little girl. Your love for her spills over into your details of her journey.

I hope it is okay, I'd like to add you to Parker's blogroll.

Army of Mom said...

Sounds like a good plan.

Funny, when I was a 6-year-old dying of cancer (yes, they told my mom that I had three months to live) I was still disciplined. Mom has told me many times about how people would question her why she was making me act right when I was only going to be around a short time longer. My mom always told them that as long as I will be in this world, I should learn to live in it appropriately. Now, 30-something years later, I'm a fairly well-behaved adult. ;)

Good luck with this. I know it is hard, but you're doing the right thing for your wonderful child.

Juliabohemian said...

that sounds like success to me.

I don't know if you read my profile when visiting my blog.
my 6 yr old has adhd with an oppositional defiance disorder. we have struggled GREATLY with the discipline situation. even at age 2, our daughter was violent and aggressive and uncontrollable. she was unresponsive to spanking and other numerous methods of discipline. Time outs didn't work because she wouldn't stay unless she were bound and gagged (joke). the trouble is, she DOES understand what we are saying and can't make herself obey. (it's a little more complicated than that but...)

I think if you've found a system that works for your child, great.
Don't think of it as discipline so much as "conditioning". You are conditioning her to expect a time out in response to crying for no reason. It sounds less cruel to people who think your child should be pitied and doesn't need to be disciplined.

Anyway, good luck on your journey. I've bookmarked your site so I can stay up to date.

R said...

There's something else you may be giving Jenelle by using 'time-outs' - you have provided her with a sure-fire way of getting out of her wheelchair/off the floor and into her bed. She can, in effect, 'ask' to get into bed for a few minutes by throwing a hairy fit. You have, basically, given her an absolutely rock-solid, reliable piece of communication. And that's great. Who knows what other pieces of 'body sign' she might learn in future?