The tried and true method of giving a “Time Out” is one of the most popular tools available to parents when it comes to correcting problem behavior, but it’s not always as simple as it sounds.
There are plenty of situations where time-outs might not seem like a fitting strategy. After all, where’s your little one supposed to sit quietly if they’re acting up in a crowded movie theater, or in the middle of a restaurant?
Besides that, how do we know that our kids are actually learning what kind of behavior we’re expecting of them if we just put them into a quiet room for a few minutes?
I’m still a big believer in time-outs as long as they’re done mindfully and in the appropriate situation. Check out this week’s video and I’ll show you what I mean.Rather read than watch? Click here.
– Hi, I’m Dana, creator of the Sleep Sense Program and today I’m gonna talk a little bit about timeout dos and don’ts. Now, first of all, I know that timeouts are a little bit controversial I guess we could call it, or like people have opinions about timeouts. Some people think they’re great, and other people think they’re not and that’s okay. If you don’t like timeouts, don’t do ’em. But if you want to try them as a strategy for curbing behavior with your toddler then let me give you a few tips here today. I use timeouts with all of my children because I believe in consequences. I think that if you’re behaving a particular way, I’m sorry, but I have to consequence that behavior. I mean, I’m not prepared to just let children do whatever they please whenever they want. I guess that’s my take on the issue. But let’s first look at reasons why we would have to put a child into timeout. The reason why children misbehave or act out is usually due to a few things, it could be fatigue, I mean, everyone behaves poorly when they’re fatigued. So it might be fatigue, it could be hunger, children will often act out when they’re trying to manage the feeling of being hungry and it’s overwhelming to them, or they’re frustrated about something, it’s not going their way, they can’t get their shoe on. I mean, frustrations happen to all of us throughout the day, or attention, sometimes children will act out to get your attention. Because attention is attention to a child whether it’s coming positively or negatively, they’ll usually take it either way. And especially if you see a reappearing, keeps coming up the same behavior just keeps on playing out, have a look at those reasons and see, should we be offering snacks more frequently? Should we be using the sleep sense program to make sure this little one is taking great naps and sleeping through the night? That makes a huge difference on a child’s behavior, just getting the sleep they need. Woo, that’s a game changer. Are they getting overly frustrated with something but expecting too much, or maybe I need to redirect them in another direction? You know, if they’re angry or frustrated because someone has a toy they want, well can we move over here and look at this toy instead? And can I carve out more one to one time with my child even 20 to 30 minutes a day of having some dedicated you and child time, no screens, no phone in your hand, just you and the child reading or coloring or playing with blocks, or just doing some one-to-one things, can make a huge difference in the way the child shows up and the the way the child behaves. So troubleshoot first, always that, right? Before you move into anything else. But for example, my little guy, God bless him. He was a pretty chronic whiner for a period of time, that was his go-to. It was like, he just couldn’t quite break that chain of like, this is what I do when I don’t get what I want, or I want what I want. I whine about it. And so I always give a warning, right? Children need a warning. They need to understand that whatever’s happening is not the appropriate way. So I would say, listen, that’s one, and I would model how to ask nicely. You know, let’s say he’s asking for a cookie and he is whining I would say, I’d like a cookie, please. So I’m showing him how to course correct at this point. And sometimes he wouldn’t, sometimes he wouldn’t. And so if he didn’t, then that’s too, it’s time out. I’m not a big fan of giving lots of warnings ’cause I think that like children are smart, they understand, they know what a warning is. You know, if you do that, again, if I get to two, you’re going for time out. If you’re just introducing this, let’s explain the rules right? That’s one, if I get to two you’re going to be having a timeout. And they’ll learn that right? Within a week, they’ll have mastered the fact that if she says, one, I have a decision to make here. I’m either gonna course correct or I’m not, and I’m gonna go for a timeout. And so let’s say he didn’t and he would go for a timeout. So first of all, let’s pick a timeout location, not the child’s bedroom, not the child’s crib or bed either. I want their bedroom to be a sanctuary for sleep, and for play if they’re old enough, but mainly sleep. And so I don’t wanna whole lot of negatives around the bedroom, around the crib, around the bed, I just think there’s lots of other places to do timeout. So you could get a little chair, I don’t think you need to face them into the corner. We’re not trying to humiliate a child, we’re just trying to consequence a behavior. So get a mat or a chair or a step, that’s a timeout step they could go to for a period of time. I prefer if it’s out of where you are, so if that means maybe you move to a different room or it’s in its own room. Because what I find, again, if it’s an attention seeking behavior, and they have you’re basically staring at them the whole time they’re in time out, that can be a reward in and of itself. So we do wanna kind of like just move the child slightly out of the view. Like we’re not locking them in the doors like in the scary pantry or anything like that. We’re just moving them out of the scene, right into a different location. And then we’re setting a timer, let’s say we’ve got a three year old on our hands here, we’re gonna set a timer for three minutes. So a minute for every year the child has been on this earth is a great place to start. Now what happens often especially when you’re just establishing timeout, is that they’ll get up, right? They don’t know yet that they’re gonna have to stay in this chair until the timer goes. So they’re gonna get up, and they’re gonna move off the chair. You just return them and now you start the timer again. And then they return them and you start the timer again, and you return them and you start the timer again. And they will begin to understand that this isn’t over until the buzzer rings. So you can sit in your chair until the buzzer rings or we can keep doing this until you decide to do that, right? And it is tough, it’s a bit of hard work to set the stage for this. Like everything in parenting starting off is tough. But they will begin to understand that, hey it just makes better sense to sit in the chair until the timer goes. It’s faster that way, right? To get back at whatever I was doing than it is to keep getting up off this chair and we have to start again and again and again. So that’s basically how you do it. You don’t need to, once the buzzer rings carry on with life, you don’t need to sit down and have a heart to heart about how you hit, shouldn’t hit Jimmy. And if you hit Jimmy, it makes him sad, you don’t have to have a big long drawn out discussion about what the behavior was. Hopefully you’ve already made it clear that hitting anyone is not appropriate behavior that you won’t tolerate it. So they know what they did, they don’t need to be reminded 60 times about what happened. So just move on with life, off you go. Couple of questions about how to do it when you’re out in public, right? That’s a little trickier. You don’t under you’re naughty chair or whatever you’re calling it with you. So we used the car. If we were in a restaurant and our kids started misbehaving one warning, right? One warning and you’re having a time out. If they didn’t course correct then one of us off to the car, right? Get that child to the car and put them in the car and now we set the timer for three minutes and you’ll have a timeout in the car, that’s where you’ll go. And again, I don’t know, I never thought that parenting would be easier, I doubt you thought that either. So I get it, but I’m eating my dinner, I don’t wanna get up and go to the car. But I’ll tell you, especially with eating out, we did this with our kids ’cause we love to eat out. And that’s something I’m not willing to sacrifice just because my kids can’t behave in the restaurant. I’m also not gonna sit in the restaurant with kids who don’t behave. So we did it and we went out for dinner at least once or twice a week, and we took those kids to timeout, and we took turns as a couple who’s turn as it now to go do this timeout thing. And you know, well, I mean nothing happens overnight, but with time they learned how to behave appropriately in a restaurant. And we got compliments all the time about our children’s behavior in the restaurant. Strangers would come over that had been sitting across the restaurant and tell us like how well behaved our kids were. And I smile and take a compliment, but they don’t know all the hard work I had to do on the other end of this. But it’s worth it, right? It’s worth it. So I say go for it, do give a timeout. You don’t have to let your anger get in the way, I think that’s maybe one of the reasons people don’t like timeouts is because it’s somehow, it’s based on your anger. Hey, it’s not my anger, I gave you a warning to course correct your behavior. you chose not to, the child chose not to, and now I’m just consequencing that choice, that’s what I’m doing. All right, thanks everybody for watching today. Sleep well.
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