When the boy gets in trouble, either he or something important to him gets a time-out. When the girl gets in trouble, we've typically done the old "bait and switch"/distract routine. Yet sometimes that doesn't work.
Megan, almost 16-months old, is fascinated by the fridge. She thinks everything in it is there for her amusement. She loves helping herself to containers of yogurt - sometimes to eat them and sometimes just to carry them around and fling them at things. (Luckily they are still sealed shut when she does this.) She likes to open the door on her own and find her cup. She likes to go in and find her brother's cup (which she then claims as her own, mostly just to piss him off if we're being honest about it.) She's begun to discover that she can climb on the lower shelf of the fridge to better reach the back of the top shelf.
This little hobby of her's is certainly potentially costly (both in the whole "door's open forever on the refrigerator" angle and the "how many containers can she break or hide until we sniff out the rotting food" twist.) More importantly, however, it's also potentially dangerous. And so the anti-Meg-in-the-fridge campaign has had to step it up a notch.
This afternoon she attempted to help herself to a gallon of milk. I picked her up, closed the door and plopped her down in the next room. I tried to cajole her as the yelling started up. "Meg! Let's play house!"
She threw the Little Person at me and hustled back to the fridge as she cried loudly "Muh! Muh! Want Dora Muh." (as in "I want that Dora sippy filled with milk!") I followed her into the kitchen and retrieved the offending cup. She threw it on the floor and tried to climb again on the lower shelf. We did the whole remove and tantrum act again. The moment she was down and distraction attempts had begun she tore off and headed straight back to the fridge.
Now Megan has seen her share of time-outs. She's been on my hip or trailing close behind when her big brother is escorted down to his room. She's seen his most treasured possessions land up on the highest shelves. She's heard the word. She knows it's not a good thing.
"Megan Rose!" I said as sternly as one can without yelling. "If you go back in there we're going to have to put you in time-out."
She stopped. She stared at me. She asked "Tie Ow?" She paused. She stared some more and then, almost defiantly, she opened the door again without taking her eyes off me.
And so I picked her up. Closed the door and scrambled to think of where the hell I'd stick this child in time-out. The three and half year old is easier. You can put him down, say on his bed or a chair or a in a corner, and tell him not to budge an inch - and he just screeches or pouts about it without moving. The toddler? Any where not confined and she's laughing at me as she runs away. I didn't want to use the crib. . . but I had no other immediate option. In the crib she went.
She started to protest. I gave her the mommy face and said "Megan Rose, no playing in the refrigerator. Stay out. You wait here in time-out until I come back for you. Ok?"
She actually nodded at me - her big round eyes looking like the proverbial sad puppy dog eyes. "Tie Ow."
She was quiet when I left her there. I returned less than a minute later to find her laying in her crib kicking her feet in the air. She smiled when she saw me and said "Tie ow!"
I wasn't sure it had meant a thing to her. "Now, let's play. No more fridge."
She nodded again and echoed "No."
And she stuck with it. She avoided the fridge for a good hour. Then Logan went in to get himself a drink. She saw her opening and went for it. I was walking out the door to run some errands. I left Daddy to deal with it. Apparently Megan got herself a second time-out. And again it stuck with her for a while.
After dinner, as we released Megan from her booster seat and waited for Logan to finish munching on his new favorite - carrots - she headed back for the fridge. We saw it open even though we couldn't see her with the counter between us. I called her name again and told her to close the door. Nothing happened.
Daddy called her name. He said simply "That is time-out worthy, little girl."
The door closed. She came around the counter's corner and stood staring at us with her hands behind her back. "Tie ow?" she asked.
"Yes. if you go in there again that's a time-out," said Daddy.
Megan giggled and then she ran off down the hall way. We heard her little footsteps stop at what would have been somewhere near her room. "TIE OW!" She called again. And she sat in her room on her own for moments on end.
Yeah so ok. I'm not sure if this whole Time-out thing really sunk in to her or not, but at least it distracts her from the fridge for a while.