No one with any relevant experience ever said that parenting was an easy job. Raising a child has its beautiful moments and a lot of perks, but it’s a full-time responsibility that takes over your life for at least some years. Even when the children are a bit independent, there are many times when a parent gets frustrated, loses their temper, and resorts to yelling or other actions that they later regret.
Giving a time out to some children might help at certain times, but it’s not the best solution for every situation. Usually, timeouts involve sending a child to a corner, a chair, or any specific spot for some time. The aim here should be to let the little one calm down, collect their thoughts, and maybe even think about the behaviour that landed them there. While this might grant a parent some respite, time outs might not be too effective on their own. Here are a few time out tips that could help you get the message across without making the situation worse:
Set a Specific Time and Spot
If you want to make those time outs work, you’d have to show consistency. A good choice for a timeout area is where you can see the child and monitor their actions. Sending them to their room is a no-no; they’d probably have all their toys and books for distraction and entertainment there.
Use a specific mat, corner, chair, or even the bottom step of your staircase; all that matters is that the child is in that place for some time and doesn’t have anything to do. To make the discipline seem less limiting, you can give the spot a name such as ‘the thinking place’ or ‘the quiet step’. Make sure that the spot isn’t within viewing distance of the television, playing siblings, or any other direction.
A rule of thumb for the time out length is one minute for every year of the child’s age. You might want to go for shorter or longer times depending on how effective the discipline is. However, it’s also important to stay firm and consistent; don’t change the times based on a whim. Such unpredictable changes will defeat the purpose of the time out and might also throw a wrench in your schedule. You can also learn about some of the most effective ways to learn time management.
Introduce the Concept
Don’t make time out a surprise for the children right when they’re already not feeling their best. Choose a time when both of you are feeling fine, and then show them the area and explain its purpose. Try to eliminate negative words like ‘bad’, ‘punish’, ‘ignore’, and so on. Simply say that this will be a place where they will go to calm down when they don’t behave or break certain rules. Give them examples of this misbehaviour; biting, hitting, fighting, etc.
Also explain the length of time that they can expect to sit there, and that they can get up after the timer goes off. Some parents might prefer to call this sort of discipline ‘time-in’, so that children think of it as a chance to get in touch with themselves. See which method works best for you; there’s no one rule for every single family.
Implement the Time-Out Immediately
If and when a child displays behaviour that should get them some time out, take them to the designated spot right away. You might be working on a task, but this step is important. You want the child to associate the misbehaviour with the time out. Young children have very short memories, so you don’t want to confuse them by giving time-out when they’ve already forgotten their actions.
What happens when a child misbehaves when you’re not at home? This might happen if they fight and hit another child at someone else’s house, at school, or at the park. Many kids can also be seen throwing a tantrum at the supermarket. In such cases, you can improvise a time-out spot that might work just as well. This could be an empty aisle, a corner in any house or building (where you can see them), a park bench, or a step outside. When you’re explaining the timeout to them, make sure to include the rules in public situations as well.
Stay Cool and Calm
The purpose of a time out is to give a misbehaving kid a chance to get their self-control and calm back. Hoover, it’s just as important to keep your own temper under control as well. A time out is enough discipline for many minor issues, so refrain from yelling, criticizing, lecturing, or other ways of letting out your frustration.
We’d be discussing parental time outs further on, but keep in mind that a regular child’s time out just required you to state the offending behaviour. Use a tone that’s both calm and firm; there’s no need to give a long-winded explanation. Just a ‘no hitting, go to the time out spot’ will be enough.
Explain that misbehaving in a certain way will mean time out, and then follow through every single time. While it’s necessary to ensure that the child is really misbehaving–for instance, you can’t punish them for yelling when they’re hurt–it’s also important to stay firm.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers might find it very difficult to stay still for even a few minutes of time out, so you have to keep moving them back to the spot when they run off. You don’t want the child thinking that time out is just a false threat or that you’re going to give them more attention during that period. Any kind of attention, even a scolding, is not recommended during time out. Short of placing them back in the specified spot, time out should be just a quiet time when the child is alone with their thoughts. If you stay consistent, kids will soon learn that the easiest way is to sit and finish the time out, and then resume their play.
Chat and Move On
Once a time out is over, it’s over. Have a quick check-in with the child and see if they understand why they were in the time out. Let them express anything they want, and then give a reminder that timeouts occur after misbehavior or breaking rules.
Most importantly, make sure that you move on. Further scoldings, lectures, or even ‘I told you so’ will just be extending the punishment unnecessarily. The child should now feel like they have a clean slate and can display new, better behaviour.
In addition to looking at tips for kids’ time outs, it’s also essential to look at a possible time out for the parents as well. Parenting is bound to play havoc with our emotions, as we love our kids but also need a break from them at some point. Before these bog emotions become anger, resentment, or severe annoyance, consider taking a time out yourself. This will help you gain some perspective and also get the mental space needed to deal with child-related issues.
A parental time out involves letting a parent relax, collect their thoughts, and regroup for better parenting later on. See if it’s at all possible to share the load with other parents so that the children aren’t left unattended during this time. Separating yourself from whatever is causing the frustration can give you a chance to calm down, resulting in a better, more loving method of dealing with any misbehaviour.
Use these parental time outs as an emergency intervention, right when you feel like you’re losing control or about to respond in a very negative way. We don’t want to yell loudly or spank our kids, so a time out can sometimes be the best way to avoid these detrimental responses.
Like a child’s time out, a time out for parents doesn’t have to be very long. Simply take a few minutes by yourself, go to a quiet room or out of doors, and focus on deep breathing for a while. You can even try meditation and see if it helps to melt away the tension, anxiety, or anger.
Parental time-outs could be a great way to realign yourself with your goals when parenting. Things are likely to get tough at times, so make sure that you’re taking care of yourself in general the way. Ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or set a schedule so that you get to have a few hours off for some ‘me’ time. If you’re a nursing mother, you might think about introducing the bottle at a certain age to lighten the load. A bit of planning, self-care, and self-realization will also help you limit the time outs you need per week.
When we’re parenting our kids, we might tend to forget our own needs. Make sure to identify the things that keep you going–a good breakfast, a cup of coffee, a hot shower, some downtime in the evening. Find people that you trust for some venting sessions, and get enough sleep whenever possible. With some proper self-care, you’d be better able to implement these effective tips for time outs.