I mentioned last week that I was having trouble helping my son understand that some things in the house (like the Christmas tree!) are off limits and not to be touched. I was exhausting myself physically and mentally trying to stop him, and ultimately having to correct him, several times a day. Then, I remembered what I had heard about "Blanket Time". I remembered reading about it in both Michelle Duggar's book: The Duggars-20 and Counting! as well as reading it on Valerie's babywise blog. (For more information on what Blanket Time is, you can go here.) I thought if it worked for both of these mothers, then maybe I should also give it a try!
So, two or three times a day I will lay a special blanket out on the floor, along with a few "blanket-time only" toys. I then say, in my most excited voice, "Gunnar! Guess what! We get to have blanket time! This is going to be so much fun! We'll set our timer for five minutes, and then sit quietly on our blanket and play with these special toys. Oh, this is going to be so much fun!" He sees my excitement and starts getting excited himself. And, he does remarkably well staying on that blanket for those five minutes! I have noticed that if he is going to crawl off, it will usually happen when we are already four minutes into it! When that happens, I simply remind him that he needs to stay on the blanket, put him back on it, and give him a toy to keep him occupied. And, after the timer has rung, I make a big deal about how proud I am of him, and what a big boy he is.(I praise him regardless of how many times he tried to crawl off the blanket. I am more focused on training than punishing, and I want him to be excited about following instruction. I also know that an 8 month old does not have the same attention span as a toddler, and that while I can teach him to obey, it will not always be easy for him to remember why he is on the blanket in the first place!)
I have also noticed that he does better staying on the blanket when I am not in the room. I think having me in there distracts him, so I usually will stay in the kitchen, and peak my head out about every minute to make sure he is still playing on the blanket. And for now we are not in a hurry to have a longer blanket time. Five minutes seems to work well for us, and because he is younger than when most babies start it (the majority start around 12 months), I figure we are just ahead of the game and don't have to worry about increasing the time increment just yet.
One more thing: Blanket Time is not a form of punishment. It is not Time Out. Instead, it is the opportunity to teach your child parameter skills. Raising a small child takes a lot of training, and this is just one way I can train my son to listen and obey. Since we have started blanket time he has only played with the tree three times in the past three days! Training takes a lot of time and patience, but it is definitely worth it.
This blanket was hand-made by a sweet lady at my church. The bright colors make it perfect for Blanket Time!
Having fun playing with his special toys. And, doing quite well sitting up, too!
The timer went off! Proud of himself for playing on the blanket like a big boy!