When we look up what the definition of a time-out is we find this:
Time out is a technique in which a child is removed from activity and forced to sit alone for a few minutes in order to calm down.
Time out is usually a punishment or consequence surrounded by negative emotions, words and actions. It usually involves isolation for a set time and it is always designed and controlled by the parent.
If Time out is working, you will know because your child won’t have to go there all day everyday. If instead, you are finding that every 15 minutes you are dragging your child to time out only to have him turn around and do it all again, IT’s NOT WORKING!!!
I really can’t say this enough.
If your current method of dealing with behaviors is not working, then try something else.!
It has been my experience that Time Out (as described above) works best if we include it as one of the set steps within our CONSEQUENCE CONTINUUM.
TIME OUT cannot be THE BE ALL END ALL of your behavior modification plan.
So what other steps should you have on this consequence continuum? My theory is that we need our kids to begin to regulate self and this needs to be our main concern. This means that they will begin to recognize what is not working for them, think about choices and get themselves together on their own without us dragging them through the Time Out shenanigans all day everyday.
Here are some quick steps to include in your Consequence Continuum…
1. Give them CHANCES to get it together before we drag them to Time out.
2. Help them come up with ALTERNATIVE choices for dealing with their world.
3. PREVIEW and TEACH the new choices through modeling and reminding.
4. Give them PRACTICE making better choices in successful small increments of time
5. Let them REWIND so they can do it better, say it nicer, or try it another way.
6. Offer a chance to PAUSE and TAKE a BREAK so that they can calm on their own
7. Choose ZONES or ACTIVITIES that encourage calming and regrouping. Try to make the TAKE A BREAK ZONE include choices and a spot that is different than TIME OUT… because Time out has usually been a punishment TAKE a BREAK ZONE has to be more positive.
8. Allow your child a chance to come out of break when they are ready to rejoin the social scene
9. If they just can’t get it together, or if they have done something that is off the charts bad then they will have to go to a TIME OUT where they are firmly escorted and they TAKE A LOSS
Having layers or steps in your plan will allow the child to taste the sweet success of self control and regulation more often and avoid the defeat of regular time out punishment. It allows parents more opportunities to catch their child being good and a chance to tell their child that they noticed that they are growing in their self control.
Remember in all these, it is the child who has made a choice to go there by choosing the negative behavior. This takes the pressure off of the parent and it releases some of the emotion tied to consequences. You love them you just don’t love the behavior and their behavior has led them to the consequence. If you choose to make a poor choice over and over again you have chosen to go to TIME OUT. If you choose to get it together through the PREVIEW, REWIND, or TAKE A BREAK steps then you have chosen to avoid TIME OUT.
Hopefully your child will see this play out consistently from you and they will begin to see that getting it together on their own through the first steps is much easier to deal with than going to TIME OUT all day everyday.