Are you time in or time out??

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time outToday I read an article on ahaparenting.com that was about a fairly new to me concept of “time-in” instead of a “time-out” approach to discipline. The article spoke on how having a space for a child to have cuddle time if she is acting out her emotions in a negative manner. Time-in says that you should let the child know that you recognize that she is having a hard time and that you understand that she is feeling some type of way. You reiterate over and over that you are here for her and that you love her. Ok great. Then the article goes on to disprove the time-out approach. It stated that it does not allow the child to properly express herself, it creates power struggles, it makes children feel as if they are bad, and it adds or gives abandonment issues. This was my summarized version you can read the complete article here.

There are some things that I agree with when it comes to time in. I like the fact that you acknowledge that your child is dealing with some feelings and emotions causing her to act out. I like the fact that it forces you not to ignore the behavior and take out some precious time with the child while it is much needed. However I do have some issues with time-in. My issues with time-in are:

  1. Most of the time acting out behaviors in a negative way has something to do with gaining attention. This teaches your child that anytime that she may be craving attention from you she can just act out in a negative way and here you will come to hug and cuddle with her. It creates an unhealthy pattern.
  2. She is ultimately getting a reward for acting out. So rules and boundaries does not matter. Do you think when she gets old enough to drive the police is going to care if she had a bad day if she is doing 98 mph in a 55 mph zone. That is why we have to teach them about self soothing. Do you think he is going to take her to a cuddle spot? It may be a cuddle spot alright.. That is why we have to teach them about self soothing.  Teach your child that there are consequences to every action.
  3. Letting your child continue to yell and speak disrespectfully to you because she needs to move herself to cry to cleanse her of her emotions. I will never tolerate disrespect. You can express yourself, even as a child, without being disrespectful. It is not a power struggle because there will be no struggle when it comes to that topic. You think that as an adult your child is going to be permitted to talk to her boss disrespectful without some type of repercussion?

I also like some aspects of time-out. I like the way that the child can clearly recognize when she has made a poor decision to negatively act out their emotions.   However I do have issues with time out as well.

  1. You most of the time are dragging the child to time out.
  2. The child sits there without any instructions and it is just a waste of time. (I do not like wasting time)
  3. Time out is not a constructive consequence.

I can look at both sides of the time methods and some things I do not agree with and some things I totally get. However I want to share my method that somewhat combines both time in and time out. I would like to call it going to the thinking chair. This is how it works.

  1. The child does some negative act of emotional expression in which boundaries have already been set and expectations have been made clear.
  2. You look at the child in her eyes. Explain to her what she did that was unacceptable. Then you let her know that she needs to spend time on the thinking chair.
  3. The thinking chair is equipped with paper, pencils, and crayons at all times.
  4. While in the thinking chair the child will think about what she has done wrong and will answer these questions with words or a drawing.
  5. The questions are: why do you think you are in the thinking chair? Why did you choose to act in that way? What made you feel like acting in that way? If you ever feel like that again how will you let mommy know about your feelings? How can mommy help you with your feelings?
  6. After these questions have been answered they will bring you the paper(s). You then sit with them with undivided attention and actively listen to what they have to say.
  7. Address all necessary concerns and validate their feelings. End with a hug and an “I love you”.

See best of both worlds. The child knows clearly that the behavior is not acceptable. You are teaching boundaries and behavior limits. You have set expectations. You have given them positive undivided attention. You have given them a way to learn how to problem solve. You are empowering them to take responsibility for their actions and to think before reacting.

Try this method and let me know how it works for your child. Please share with us on twitter and facebook.

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