How many toddler pillows and a mother-in-laws' request for a 'safe place'

Melissa - posted on 01/05/2012 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My ex-husband keeps placing a pillow at BOTH ends of our 2 1/2 year olds crib, after stating that he wanted our son to demonstrate that he has orientated himself to one end of his crib (by keeping his head pointing to either one end of the crib or the other), before setting up a toddler bed for him... is it just me, or doesn't placing pillows at either end keep our son confused as to the direction that he will eventually become accustomed to sleeping with just one pillow available, as it will be in a toddler bed? 

Also, my ex-mother-in-law recently insisted that my son be told that he needs to go to his "safe place," if he is going to demonstrate negative emotions or patterns of behavior instead of calling it a time out, as I had already begun using this method of discipline with great success upon her arrival into the discussion with this opinion to my ex- who was in agreement with me until she told him that he shouldn't be... even though they are using the time out method at my son's pre-school also, so I would prefer to only use one term with my son for  discipline. She says that designating a time out location for him is emotionally degrading... that by allowing my son to determine where his safe place was, the method will actually reinforce his inner sense of self and independence...

I really, really need some wisdom and advice... Thank you!!

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Denikka - posted on 01/06/2012

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My son has always only had one direction to be when in bed. One pillow, etc. We coslept for the first 18mo or so. He always slept right way up. He always gets put to bed and falls asleep right way up.
But no matter how many times I go in to check on him, he's always in a different position XD From upside down to half hanging off the bed :P I don't think it really matters. Kids are gonna sleep however they're gonna sleep. I figure that as long as they ARE sleeping, it's all good.

As for the *safe place*, I can understand the thought behind it. I don't think that calling it a *time out* vs *safe place* is going to make that much of a difference.
Here's what I do, I do BOTH. My son has his naughty spot where he goes for a time out. But he also has the choice to go, wherever he wants, to sit and calm down. It all depends on the behavior. If he's getting unruly and too excited, he'll be asked to go, sit somewhere and calm down. Usually he does this in his room. Negative behavior (hitting, throwing, etc) is met with discipline; a talking to and a time out.
I like to try the calm down technique first, before the behavior gets to the need for discipline. If he's getting rambunctious, I'll ask him to go calm down. After a while, he'll either come out or I'll go into his room and we'll sit down and chat for a few seconds. I'll ask him if he's calm and if he's feeling better. He'll generally say yes. There's no time limit on this and he is not forced to stay in his room, he can come back out at any time.
I think it's important to give our kids the tools to deal with different situations. If a child gets frustrated and throws something and then gets disciplined, that does teach them that they shouldn't throw things, but doesn't really give them another, appropriate option on what to do instead. Stepping away and calming down IS a healthy and viable option.
So while your MiL may have missed the mark with her suggestion (I would not advise you take her idea as it was presented. Allowing a child to dictate their own punishment at 2.5 just screams bad idea XD), her idea may have a valid point, if used in the right way :)

Kimberly - posted on 01/06/2012

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I'm confused. Does your ex and his mother live with you, or do you maintain separate households? Unless you all live together, just ignore whatever they are doing at their house as long as it is not physically or mentally harmful to your son and do what you want at yours. Kids are very smart and learn to adapt to different rules for different places (for example, you don't have to line up to go to the bathroom at home like you do at pre-school). he won't get confused. He may try to use the differences in a power play (but dad let's me do it THIS way!) but that is actually the opposite of confusion, ;) Pick your battles hon. Whether he sleeps in a crib or a bed and what time-out is called at dad's house is not worth the fight.

Bonnie - posted on 01/06/2012

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We never used any pillows in our boys' crib. As a matter of fact, we switched our older son to a toddler bed when he was 20 months and our younger son at 18 months and for the first year of being in the toddler bed they did not have any pillows.

They learn on their own which way to face. Once your child is in a toddler bed, you are going to put them to bed facing the same way every night. They will get the hang of it. Some parents start using a pillow at a year for the child to put their head on, but really unless it is a really small one, it can be a hazard.

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Dusty - posted on 01/14/2012

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You're ex-MIL is NOT your son's mother, so it really doesn't matter what she wants. You are the child's mother, & therefore, unless your decisions negatively impact the child, YOU need to be the one making those choices!!

Melissa - posted on 01/13/2012

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Lydia, yes you are right. I am just fighting a losing battle when it comes to any type of discipline for my son right now... And by the time the judge actually hears all of the details, it may be too late to reactivate the time out method with any sort of success for behavior modification, since my son is already manipulating me in front of the ex-mil. The ex is deployed for the next six months...

Lydia - posted on 01/13/2012

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one pillow is enough and that sense of direction has nothing to do with falling out of a toddler bed. funny... how he came up with that?



i agree to use the term time out. safe place is not a place for discipline. time out is. usually the situations where you put him in time out are those moments when the kid uses his independence and self in a way that needs correction, right? so letting him decide of his way or place of being disciplined or punished is total nonsense.

Melissa - posted on 01/13/2012

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18 and 20 months... I see. And I think my son should also be in a toddler bed, but the ex does not and she is here to reinforce his parenting perspective while he is deployed. My son will be 3 in June, and I would like to have him in a toddler bed and on his way to big boy pull-up pants by then...(more clarification: the ex's divorce and sole custody petitions are temporarily on hold until he returns from active deployment).

Melissa - posted on 01/13/2012

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Clarification: The ex-mil is at the home with my son and I while the ex is currently deployed overseas.

Brianna - posted on 01/06/2012

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im really confused about the 2 pillows thing... it really doesnt make sense?.. i say 1 pillow teaches them where to keep there head. as for the time out thing i think there is nothin wrong with saying time out.. like really i dont think ur son is gonna care if its called safe place or time out

Bonnie - posted on 01/06/2012

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Melissa, my boys never tried to climb out, but we switched them anyway.

Melissa - posted on 01/06/2012

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* For the record, I have been asking him to set up our son's toddler bed since before he turned two, but he wants him left in his crib until he tries to climb out... So far that hasn't happened, but I am concerned that he may hurt himself if (when) he tries.

Cynthia - posted on 01/06/2012

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knowing where to lay his head does not matter. you should put up the toddler bed when his crib is no longer safe. you dont want him to fall out of a crib. falling out of a toddler bed is better because the drop to the floor is only a few inches. as for the mil. and all advise you have to take free advice for what it is. and dont change your ways because someone doesnt agree with you. if you feel you are doing the right thing for your baby then as his mom you have the right to do things your way. mil had her chance with your husband.

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