Flickr Images

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FAQ - Time Out

Parents who come to me for help or advise usually want to know how to discipline kids. Disciplining is such a broad topic and covers a wide-array of things but for the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on time outs.

  1. What is time out?
  2. Time out is a tool used to aid in disciplining.It is NOT a magic tool that will somehow magically transform your kid into an extremely obedient child in one go. Time out is one small part of the disciplining process that aims to reinforce what you should have already taught your kids.
  3. Who can use it?
  4. It can be used by parents with kids who are around 2-6 years old. You can gauge if your kid is ready if they can at least understand what you are saying already and can respond accordingly, even by grunts or nods. I personally introduced the idea of time out a little before my daughter turned 2 but I never had to use it until she turned 2. While it may still work for older kids, it will be harder and would take longer to see the effects. It might be best to consider alternative tools for kids who are 7 and up. 
  5. When do I use it?
  6. You use it when: 1. You have previously established a rule, 2. You have given a warning, 3. You are not upset or mad, rather you are calm but authoritative, 4. You are not in public (the goal is not to embarrass your child)
  7. How does it work?
  8. It works because kids use attention from parents as a sort of reinforcement. Kids value attention from their caregivers so much. Be it positive (like praise, and affection) or negative (shouting,anger directed at them); they will keep dong things that get them attention. Time outs remove attention from the kids and create a strong correlation between the "bad" thing they are doing and the lack of attention. The beautiful thing about the time out is that it ends with a hug so we are not withholding love from our kids...we are just removing attention away from the negative behavior.
  9. Okay, I'm interested. How do I do time out?
  10. Here is my daughter giving herself a time out. This was taken when she was 4.
    First, you give one warning/reminder like "Please stop hitting your brother". Then if the child doesn't obey, kneel in front of the child so that you are eye-level with your child. Speak in a calm but firm voice and say "I told you to do this...but you didn't. Now you need to go one time out", hold your child's hand and help him go to the designated time-out chair. No need to say anything else at this point. I assign one minute per year of the child's age as a general rule and it has so far worked for us. I set the kitchen timer and put it in front of my child (to avoid the repeated question "Is it time yet?") and then I leave. Most people stop at this point, but this is not enough. You need to go back to your child when the time is done, talk to your child kindly and ask "Do you know why you were on time out? Why?" and discuss it in simple terms with your child. Then ask the child to say sorry for the specific behavior. Say "I forgive you", then hug your child. 
  11. Why doesn't it work for me?
  12. When parents say it doesn't work for them these are the normal culprits: the rules aren't clear yet, the parents are not consistent, they didn't follow all the rules of the time out.
  13. Are there other options?
  14. I personally spank (biblical spanking okay, not beating) but I don't suggest this to my clients as I'm always afraid of them going to far with this. Withholding things kids like also works for older kid.
  15. What if my kid doesn't sit still?
  16. You have to patiently keep bringing the kid back to the time out space without talking until the kid finally sit stills. You need to keep your face and expression calm. This may take a long time specially for kids who don't understand instructions too much. They will eventually get it but the first couple of times might be challenging.

No comments:

Post a Comment