A TIME-OUT FROM TRADITIONAL TIME-OUT

Use Isolation Strategically & Sparingly 

IS IT WORKING FOR YOU?

Time-out has become the gold standard for parenting in the 21st Century. But is our strategy working? We’ve been told by the experts to set our kids in seclusion so they can think about their misbehavior. They say, “2 minutes for a 2-year-old, 4 minutes for a 4-year-old” & so on.

It’s been a helpful tool that shouldn’t necessarily be thrown-out with the bath water, but does it accomplish the goal we’re all after? Well, first we have to determine if we’re all after the same goal. If our goal is for our children to pay penance for what they’ve done, then the traditional punitive measure may produce that result, depending on how torturous we make the alone time. Ha!

If our goal is to make kids think about their wrongdoing, then reaching that goal may be doubtful, depending on the approach. Only the child has control over what they choose to ponder. If you’re like us, you pray for them while they’re in time-out, hoping they'll maturely think about their actions & actually feel sorry. Our fervent prayers might increase the likelihood of our kids becoming remorseful, but we don’t want it to be the only method we rely on.

What if we adjusted our primary goals as parents, focusing more on helping our children succeed & less on making them pay for their wrongs? The primary purpose of parenting is to LOVE our kids well, which includes setting appropriate standards & maintaining healthy boundaries. The amount of love shown depends on the words, tone, body language & attitude chosen by the parent. 


SCENARIO 1--USING TIME-OUT IN A TRADITIONAL WAY

Dinner is served.

Daughter (who shall remain nameless) reluctantly drags her feet to the kitchen, with a scowl on her face. She plops down at the dinner table, slouching in her chair, with her arms tightly crossed. When she eyes the hot, homemade meal that her kind parents have graciously prepared, she has the audacity to shove her plate into the center of the table & scoffs at the sight of it. She contorts her face & grumpily announces, “This looks gross! I hate this meal! I’m not eating this disgusting food!”

Mom immediately declares war: “Go sit in time-out!”

Daughter shows her power through defiance: “NO!”

Mom feels threatened & compelled to show who’s boss. As she drags her child to the hallway, she blares, “I SAID GET UP & GO SIT IN TIME-OUT RIGHT NOW!”

(This is not necessarily a personal confession based on real events, but you never know.)

Daughter: “You’re mean! I hate you!”

Mom: “You’re going to sit there for 8 minutes so you can think about how rude & ungrateful you’re being!”


The above example often fulfills the parent’s desire for pay-back but rarely meets the higher goal of shaping the child’s heart.


SCENARIO 2--A FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON UTILIZING TIME-OUT

Dinner is served.

Daughter (who shall remain nameless) reluctantly drags her feet to the kitchen, with a scowl on her face. She plops down at the dinner table, slouching in her chair, with her arms tightly crossed. When she eyes the hot, homemade meal that her kind parents have graciously prepared, she has the audacity to shove her plate into the center of the table & scoffs at the sight of it. She contorts her face & grumpily announces, “This looks gross! I hate this meal! I’m not eating this disgusting food!”

Mom keeps her composure & chooses not to take the comments personally: “We’ve been enjoying ourselves in here & are looking forward to a yummy dinner. You're probably hungry, so you're welcome to stay if you can be pleasant & thankful for the food."

Daughter decides not to take advantage of the 2nd chance given to her by her gracious mother. She picks up her fork with that same look of disgust, pushes the food around on her plate & voices her negativity: "I don't care what you guys say. This is gross."

Mom reminds herself that it will go better if she chooses not to be angry. So she compassionately says, "Looks like you’re having a hard time right now. Here, let me help you find a good place for you to be upset. You’re welcome to come back when you’re grateful to eat & your heart is in a better place.”

Daughter shrugs off Mom’s guiding hand & begins screaming & throwing a fit. She pitifully claims, “You don’t love me!”

Mom, who’s proud of herself for being so patient & well-controlled, responds, “You’re having a hard time calming down. Let me escort you to the garage where you can be loud without disturbing anyone. You’re welcome to come back in after you calm down & are ready to create peace in the house.”

Daughter immediately stops crying & unconvincingly says, “I’m ready now."

Mom: “Well, take a few minutes to calm down & make sure you’re ready to come in.” (Mom gently shuts the door behind her & returns to the dinner table to eat.)

Daughter quietly comes back to the dinner table after a few minutes of down-time.

Mom & Dad continue looking at each other to finish their dinner conversation but extend their arms out to the daughter, communicating forgiveness with their body language. When they come to a stopping point, they briefly say, “Hey there! Welcome back. Glad to see you’re doing better & that you decided to join us for dinner.”

The parents then strategically divert the attention away from the daughter by starting a new conversation that involves the whole family.


Now doesn’t that approach sound more peaceful & effective?

Our wise pastor has used the following phrase with his kids: “This is my Happy Zone. You’re welcome to come back in here when you’re feeling happy too.”

Another friend, who’s a smart parent of 6, tells her kids, “Go find your happy heart.”

These examples are not meant to give the impression that a child has to be happy in order to be in your presence. The point is to model healthy interpersonal skills & to give your child a chance to implement them too.
 

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SCENARIO 1 & SCENARIO 2?

Scenario 1 is reactive & punitive in nature & somewhat revengeful & controlling. It's not based on realistic & attainable goals, unless the main goal is to punish. In Scenario 2, the theme is love & graciousness, not only towards the disruptive child, but also towards the rest of the family. The parents protect the family's peaceful time together by establishing healthy boundaries. The daughter isn't immediately banned from the table but is given an opportunity to save face. As the parent, the mom maintains her position of authority by remaining calm & self-controlled. The lack of expressed anger allows the mom & child to focus on the issue at hand & finding a solution to the problem.

And in Scenario 2, the oh-so-smart mother provides an opportunity for her daughter to learn from her mistakes. The mom clearly states her expectations & explains that the conclusion of the time-out is contingent upon the daughter choosing to meet those expectations. The daughter is more motivated to change because she's in charge of when she can reconnect with the family. Having a sense of control helps her recognize that she has power over herself to positively affect situations. This approach allows the child to concentrate on gaining control over her emotions & practicing good relationship skills. 

It’s also important to note that a lecture wasn’t needed because the parents carefully chose their words & actions, which thoroughly communicated what was necessary. It’s understandable to want your child to think about their actions, but make sure you communicate your expectations succinctly.

An example of an appropriate statement: 

“You need to spend this time thinking about the problem you created & how you’re going to resolve it. When you figure out a solution, let me know & you’ll be welcome to come back & join us. If you need my expertise, I'm happy to help.”

Training your child within your loving presence is ideal & times of isolation need to be used sparingly. But sometimes appropriate boundaries involve separation. When separation is necessary, time-outs are more effective when the parent communicates a clear & achievable objective for the alone time. If you simply set a timer & let the child off the hook when the timer goes off, then the purpose of the time-out was basically to punish, with unpromising hopes of the child learning from the experience.

Giving the child the power to choose (within limits) when his/her time-out is done is often the most effective approach for getting the outcomes we desire, i.e. HUMILITY, LOVE & PEACE.

 

GIVE THIS TIME-OUT TACTIC A TRY &
REPORT BACK YOUR SUCCESS STORIES!


Many of my parenting concepts have been shaped from excellent resources & authors such as these:

Choices, Cookies & Kids DVD by Dr. Garry Landreth, a world-renowned author, speaker & expert on Play Therapy. His powerful work has impacted countless children, parents & professionals. I had the great privilege of studying under him in my award-winning counseling graduate program & I’m also blessed to be his absolute favorite daughter-in-law. :)

Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline, MD & Jim Fay
Please use the provided link to purchase this book now! YOUJUSTGAVE.com will receive commission for the sale & that revenue will enable us to continue providing practical material for FREE & giving 50% away to a Chosen Charity each month!

Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk
Please use the provided link to purchase this book now! YOUJUSTGAVE.com will receive commission for the sale & that revenue will enable us to continue providing practical material for FREE & giving 50% away to a Chosen Charity each month!