Time Outs May Not Work; Try Quiet Time Instead

Time Out. Sometimes it seems to work. When it doesn’t, why is it ineffective? Here are some questions to get you thinking. 

1) Demeanor: If you are respectful, firm and kind when you place a child in Time Out, that’s a plus. If you are angry, red-faced and your stomach is churning, imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of that energy.

Children do not learn when they are afraid or angry, but rather go into Fight-or-Flight mode.

2) Intention: If you want to teach your child a skill or how to make a better choice, she is more likely to learn.

If you want to punish, hurt, control, manipulate or get revenge, your child will feel it. Her response is likely to be based on fear, anger and a desire to get even with you for hurting her, rather than making better decisions or learning better behavior.

3) Destination: Do you send your child away? When she may need to connect with you the most, she can feel disconnected.

She may conclude that you don’t love her, and the loss of your love is terrifying. Fear and anxiety can overwhelm her, leading to even more crying or acting out.

Instead of Time Out, how about a Time In, Quiet Time or Take a Break?

The purpose of discipline is to help a child learn how to calm down and make better choices.

Try these strategies.
1) Set up a quiet place where you (the parent) can calm down when you are upset.
Tell your child about it, and let her see you using it. If you model this well, she will want to use your place or to have one of her own.

2) Set up a quiet place where your child can calm down. Make it with your child at a happy time. Put things there that make her comfortable and soothe her when she is upset.
It can be in a closet, in a corner, under a table. Let her choose.

3) Be aware. Before she gets out of control, gently get down beside her and ask if she’d like to go to her special place. Offer to go with her.

4) Empathize with her feelings.

5) Wait until strong feelings have settled down before you talk about it and problem-solve.

6) Repeat often.
Have confidence in your child’s innate goodness, and trust yourself to be their guide.