Out or Time In?
a recent seminar a mom asked the speaker, "What am I supposed
to do when my child misbehaves? There are dozens of options for
influencing children's behavior and they all hinge on the relationship
the parent has with the child, the family rules and the child's
personality, age and capabilities. In this space I will describe
what I believe are effective Time Outs and Time Ins.
many parents Time Outs have become a "Go to your room!"
or a "Get out of my face!" banishment or rejection. Ideally
Time Outs provide a breather between two parties who are in tension.
Time Outs can be used by parents, children, spouses or countries
at war. Often it is the parent who really needs a Time Out. And,
it's OK to do just that. It provides great modeling of self-responsibility
and self-soothing. You could say something like, "I'm feeling
really frustrated. I want to handle this problem calmly. I'm going
to take a 10 minute Time Out and then we can talk some more."
this what we would like our children to be able to do for themselves?
Don't we want to teach our children how to be responsible individuals
and to have the skills to better manage their emotions, thoughts,
words and behaviors? Is so, then we will want to give a healthy
meaning to Time Out.
addition to modeling the usefulness of a Time Out there are times
when we can say to a child, "Do you need a Time Out so you
can come back and start fresh?" Have children decide when they
are ready to come back and TRY AGAIN with new and different behavior.
Some time and distance from a situation is often what many of us
need. For many children Time Outs have become either an experience
of being rejected to their bedroom when the going gets tough or
freedom to play in their Disney World-like paradise. The first bedroom
scenario can create a hated room where children have trouble sleeping
at night while the second scenario provides a "so what?"
attitude of escape from relationship and responsibility.
Weininger, professor emeritus in the Early Childhood Education Department
at OISE, describes Time In. His belief is that when children are
not managing themselves well they need more attention. He encourages
parents to say something like, "I see what you are doing and
saying. It seems like you need more help. I am here for you. Let
me know when you can manage on your own." A Time In may involve
taking children out of challenging situations such as fighting with
playmates or siblings. Once separated from the scene parents can
discuss the unacceptable behavior and encourage children to choose
appropriate conduct. Some parents may worry that children will misbehave
to seek attention and Time In sounds like giving into that demand.
Seldom do children misbehave to receive attention where parents
hold them accountable for their behaviors and require them to choose
it's a Time Out or a Time In, ask yourself what you want to accomplish
and what you want your child to learn. In the between times get
some Time Out and Time In for yourself.
Patricia Morgan is a counselor and speaker who helps parents and
others lighten their load and brighten their outlook. She has authored
Love Her As She Is: Lessons from a Daughter Stolen by Addictions,
She Said: A Tapestry of Women's Quotes and four upbeat booklets