When my kids were little time-out at our house consisted of sending the kids to sit in the “happy chair” where they would have to stay until they were able to be happy again. Our “happy chair” was a bright yellow chair with a sunshine and happy kids painted on it – all designed to inspire its occupant with feelings of joy and happiness.
Where did I come up with the idea for a “happy chair” you may be asking? Well at the time my kids were born, I was a young mom, just out of college. When I had attended BYU my Child Development teacher taught us that time-out for children should be in a place with a positive outlook rather than a negative one. And thus my idea was born for the “happy chair”. (clearly my own parents hadn’t taken that particular class in college because when I was a kid and we were naughty we got sent to the “pig table” to eat alone…hmmmm…that might explain why we all grew up paranoid about our weight :)…but I can’t blame my parents ,after all, they were trying to raise ten of the most out-of-control children at the time and its just a wonder they didn’t end up in a loony bin themselves after putting up with all of us)!
Back to the “happy chair” – that “happy chair” worked great with my two kids as they were growing up. They would do something naughty, get sent to the “happy chair” where they would sit and cry and scream for a few minutes until finally they would start yelling “I’m gonna be happy now, I’m gonna be happy”. Their first few yells were not very convincing, especially since they were said with snot running down their face and tears flowing, but after a few more minutes of saying they were gonna be happy they would eventually calm down a little, wipe off their tears, and smile for real – that cute little kid smile they had when they were trying so hard to be genuinely happy so they could get out of the chair. At that point they were told they would come out and they would run over to give me a huge hug and an “I’m sorry mom” and then they were quickly off to play again, happy as a clam.
I was thinking today that we grown-ups could probably use a time out in a “happy chair” once in a while ourselves. Some days things pile up like crazy and the stress level continues to rise and you feel like a either a volcano about to erupt, or an ice cube that is put into an oven to melt away. Those are the moments when you need to be able to recognize that what you really need is to take a time out and sit in the nearest “happy chair”…allow yourself to cry and scream if needed…but then within a few minutes its time to wipe off the tears and say “I’m gonna be happy now, I’m gonna be happy.” You may require saying it three or four more times until you can truly calm down and put on that smile again. Then get up from the chair, and if necessary, go hug anyone you mistreated and say “I’m sorry”. Then go play again, happy as a clam.
A great quote to keep in mind today is this:
“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you cannot change.”
And I would add to the end of that quote: “And when necessary, take a time-out in the Happy Chair!”