December 29, 2009

Using Time Out Effectively

Time out is probably the most common behavior management strategy known to parents. I often have parents tell me that time outs don't work. They don't work because you're probably using it in a negative way instead of a positive way.

Think of how time outs are used in sports. The purpose is to stop the clock, take a deep breath, get a drink of water, regroup, take a look at what isn't working, and come up with a new game plan.

Is that the logic you employ when you put your child in time out or does it sound more like this: "I've had enough of this nonsense! Sit on this chair and think about what you just did!" You sit the timer for five minutes but chances are slim your five year old is going to feel remorseful. Instead she's probably spending those five minutes plotting how she will get revenge!

A negative time out is based on the idea that in order to get a child to do better we first have to make them feel worse. A positive time out is based on the premise that children "do" better when they "feel" better. Apply this to yourself. Do you do better when you feel worse or when you feel better?

A positive time out gives children and their parents time and space to calm down until they can once again think rationally instead of emotionally. When you're rational it's much easier to learn from mistakes, problem solve and make amends for any hurt or damage the inappropriate behavior might have caused. It's another way for parents to teach important skills that will last a lifetime.

1 comment:

Lisa Flynn said...

This is great - In the ChildLight Yoga Teacher Training and Yoga 4 Classrooms programs (, we call it 'Time-In' as it better describes what an effective 'time out' should be - a moment to stop, look inward, regroup and come up with new gameplan- love that!