Time-outs or thinking time

December 23, 2008 0 Comments

Teaser: 
One of the tools that are most widely used in our times is the “time-out” or thinking time. This method to stop an inappropriate behavior is similar to the old punishment of standing in a corner, or facing the wall, but it is done more respectfully and with a different objective.

 

One of the tools that are most widely used in our times is the “time-out” or thinking time. This method to stop an inappropriate behavior is similar to the old punishment of standing in a corner, or facing the wall, but it is done more respectfully and with a different objective.  

What is a time-out?

A time-out is the “time off” that is requested in some sports to regroup the team or strategize. This means the game is interrupted during this time. With children it is similar: the activity the child was engaged in is interrupted and he is asked to reflect on why it was inappropriate and is given time to redirect his behavior.  

Time-outs are effective because they isolate the child from whatever she was doing that was inappropriate and therefore it stops the behavior. For example, if the child has bitten or hit a friend or has grabbed a toy away from him, the time-out is an appropriate method of stopping that behavior and giving her the opportunity to avoid it in the future.

How to apply a time-out

A time-out can take place sitting on a chair, preferably of the child’s size, a stool, bench or any other place where your child can sit for a few minutes. It is important that the child is within your sight. Don’t send her to her room or a different part of the house. The ideal situation is to have a couple of places in the house that are only used for time-outs.

It is vital that the child knows why she is going to have a time-out and the consequences of the inappropriate behavior. If she hit or bit another child, even if your daughter is very young, you must explain in simple words and phrases that she hurt the other child.  

The rule for time-outs is one minute per year of the child’s age. A two-year old will have a two minute time-out, a three-year old three minutes, and so on. Use a kitchen timer so that the child will know when her time out is up.  

Time-outs for older children and pre-teens

Sitting on a chair with a timer may not be appropriate for older kids, especially pre-teens and teens. A very effective variation of the time-out for kids is “time to write”. The idea is to write a few sentences or a whole page about the reasons why his or her behavior is not appropriate and what the consequences are.

Writing gives them the opportunity to reflect, as they have to think what they are going to write about. You can use a clock or stopwatch, giving them enough time to write, or simply tell them to write a page.

Once the task is done, tell your child to read it to you out loud and then comment on the incident and how it can be avoided in the future. It is a good tool to correct inappropriate behavior that will also help your child express him or herself in writing.

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