Time in, Time Out!

What the original “time out” looked like!

Discipline methods come and go.  Fads determine the trend in the “right” way to get your child to behave.  Friends can offer advice, sometimes unsolicited!  Often we model our own method of discipline on that of our parents’.  With so many choices it can be confusing (and frustrating), but in time, you figure out what works best for you and your child.  And every child is different, so what works for one may not work for another.  Time out is a very popular method of discipline, especially for toddlers.  It has been the go-to discipline method in my house for the past 5 years.  Although the principle has remained the same, how time out looks in our house has changed:  how we use it, where it takes place, etc.  But it continues to be what works the best for us (my husband and I) and our kids.  We started using time out when my oldest was a mere 18 months old.  That is the recommended age to begin discipline with time out.  I would sit with her on my lap in a dining room chair, facing the wall.  I had to hold her in the chair until she learned to stay there herself. Eventually time out moved to the bottom stair and has since made it’s home there.  I once read in a discipline book that in order for time out to be effective, there has to be time in.  Huh!?  Makes sense!  The child has to not want to be removed from the situation.  The child has to desire to be involved with what is happening in order to view time out as unfavorable.  Also, time out is more a method of shaping a child’s behavior into what you want it to be, not so much a punishment.  When my oldest stopped kicking and screaming when we placed her in time out, my husband became concerned that it wasn’t “working” anymore.  I disagreed.  She didn’t like having to sit out for 5 minutes to think about what she had done.  She has matured to the point of doing her time without pitching a fit, but that doesn’t equate to time out being ineffective.  Just removing the child from the situation and placing them in time out forces the child to stop what they are doing and interrupts undesirable behaviors.  And no one likes to stop what they are doing, especially if they are having fun!  I know time out won’t work until she’s 16 but I’m gonna ride this one out as long as I can!  Changing discipline methods is not fun!

Below are some quick tips to effectively implement (or build upon) time out in your home:

*The amount of time should be determined by the age of the child.  One minute per year of life. And adding more time for a “harder ” offense is not recommended. Wrong is wrong to a child, they don’t understand anything else. So making them sit longer isn’t effective.

*Set a timer.  I use the oven timer, but any timer will work.  The concept of time is abstract to young children.  But when they hear the beep they know to get up.  And you don’t forget about them and leave them sitting there!

*Designate a spot.  Maybe it’s a stool or chair that remains in the same place in the house.  As I said before, we use the bottom stair, the “naughty step”.  I have seen some parents use a rug where the child has to sit. It doesn’t matter where time out occurs, as long as it is always in the same place.

*Time out is as much for the parent as it is for the child. Time out affords the parent the chance to cool off  and prevents impulsive behavior.

*Lastly, be consistent and stay calm.  This piece of advice works with with any and all types of discipline.  And it is the quickest way to convey to your child that you are in charge!

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