Trampoline Timeout: How $27 Changed my Parenting

I will admit it: I don’t know much about boys. I grew up with a sister, and I’m not a boy myself, so parenting my son is challenging at times. Besides the fact that I don’t understand his obsession with weapons, I’m also confused about his need for movement.

I recently heard a podcast episode called “The Art of Nurturing Boys” that was super helpful. It may not be much, but I wanted to share this small “win” with you because, as people close to me know, I’ve had other strategies that didn’t work out so well.

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A Bad Day

A few weeks ago, my son went through a cranky period.

Pouting, frowning, slamming, pushing. It was ugly.

Weary from teaching, I picked him up from school to see him sulking to the car. Again. Nothing was specifically wrong (as far as I could tell): he was just in a bad mood.

Strapped in the back, he pouted and spouted negativity. Taking a deep breath, I remembered the encouragement from the podcast. David Thomas had admonished me through my earbuds to allow my son to move. To allow him work his feelings out physically.

The Punishment

When we pulled into the garage, we had this conversation:

Mommy: Paxton, you have been cranky and disrespectful. You have a “trampoline timeout.”

Paxton: Oh, man. (Sulks some more)

Mommy: Do you know that that means?

Paxton: I can’t use the new trampoline.

Mommy (firmly): No. That’s not it. You HAVE to use the trampoline. You must jump as hard as you can until you are in a better mood, until I see the smile I love so much.

Paxton (smiling slightly): Okay, mommy.

The Result

We went outside, and he bounced. Hard. And just like David Thomas said, I realized that I would never regret this $27 purchase.

After 3 minutes, he smiled and laughed, mood entirely changed. I dismissed him from his timeout, and he sprinted inside.

I started making dinner, and in a few minutes, Paxton emerged from his room, picture in hand.

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He proudly presented me with a drawing of the two of us and ran away. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes.

He was happy.

I was proud.

Why do I share this with you? As mentioned, I’ve tried many things to help my son with his occasional meltdowns and moods. Some have worked, and some have flopped, but this strategy felt different.

I was helping him learn how to cope with difficult days. If he had done something more extreme, I would have given him a stricter punishment, but for this situation, it worked.

After we had employed the “trampoline timeout” a few more times, he used it on me. On a day of planning and doing too much, I raced around the house fretting and sweating. Paxton said, “Mommy, do you need a “trampoline timeout?” You know what? I did.

I went outside, put on a song, and jumped. And sure enough, 3 minutes later, I felt better. Maybe we all need something like this sometimes.

Do you have any strategies that help you teach your kids to cope with difficult days, difficult feelings? If so, I would love to hear about them. Let me know if you try this strategy; it might work for your kids (or for you).  I must give a special thanks to Heather MacFadyen for the podcast: check it out!

Thanks for reading, and let’s go love people (especially those in our family) on purpose.



About Kellie Van Atta

Kellie Van Atta is a wife, a mom of two, and a teacher of English. She lives in Southern California and is passionately dedicated to teaching her kids to love others.

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