Time out has been used ineffectively for decades.It was designed to give children a chance to calm down and relax. It was never meant to be a disciplinary tool. When I teach time out to parents I especially talk about time out being something adults model, taking time to separate yourself to do an activity wehre you can unwind. I suggest all people can get overwhelmed. Adults can verbalize to their children, "I need a time out". Then go to their favorite chair or their favorite spot. Sit down and do an activity which calms them. I suggest reading a book or magazine, listdning to quiet music, knitting,taking a 15 minute power nap or any activity which is relaxing to them.
Some years ago I shared this with a class in the Fall. The following Spring when I did another session a Mom who hand been modeling this shared the following story.
The family had decided to get together for the holidays. For the first time in years both sets of Grandparents were coming to stay from Christmas through New Year's. The Mom's eight year old daughter was very excited. She was pretty antsy so they decided to make cookies. They got all the ingredients ready and were about to start when the daughter who was bouncing on her toes suddenly stopped; looked at her Mom and said, "Mommy can we make the cookies in a few minute?. I think I need a time out." Shocked Mom nodded. She waited a minute or two and went to find her. She found her curled up in the window seat in their family room, looking at one of her books. She didn't say anything just went back to the kitchen. When her daughter came back about 15 minutes later. She said, "Ok, I'm ready. I'm so excited about Big Daddy and G'Mama, and Poppy, and Granny coming I was getting too excited."
Mom was so proud of her daughter not only had she recognized her feelings. She was able to use what she observed her Mom had modeled to self calm and move on with her day.
This was a day she loved being a parent.
Time outs can be a great way to give your children a tool to avoid needing discipline. Self calming is something we all need to do at one time or another. Model it!
Believe in Parenting