Looking for alternatives to time out? Try this instead!
Time Outs have become a common approach to children who are “misbehaving” (watch the video to understand why the parentheses).
Put them into (forced) isolation – in their room, a bathroom, the “naughty chair” – for a fixed number of minutes (the math varies, but usually it’s based on their age) to teach them that if they do X they are behaving unsociably and cannot be in your, or other’s company.
When I first heard this is totally made sense to me. The child learns that if they behave in an aggressive, destructive or otherwise unacceptable manner, they will not be welcome in society and will need to be removed until they’re calmer.
Upon deeper reflection and education (this is the best book I’ve found on this topic) I’ve come to learn of the true implications of forcing isolation on a child because we don’t like them scribbling on the walls, hitting the baby or screaming “I hate you” at the top of their lungs.
The truth is, Time Outs teach: When you are having a hard time regulating yourself, I can’t stand you. I can’t be around you. I can’t love you. I cannot handle your big, bad emotions. I’d rather shut them out.
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it is kind of dramatic. Imagine your hubby came home – whining, grumpy and basically unbearable. Would you lock him in your room until he was more pleasant? Or is this the time we’re called upon to listen and hold space for another and their experience , as trifling as it may appear to us grown ups.
When our kids are at their worst – this is the very BEST time to show them our unconditional love and support. Note that this does not, by any means, mean endorsing their behavior. The unacceptable behavior stands and will be addressed once the child’s brain has integrated enough to hold a meaningful conversation.
Have you tried time outs? How about time ins? What is your approach to tantrums or misbehavior? What alternatives to time outs work best for your family?