In my house we have a time out chair. It’s actually an awesome Mandarin-inspired chair that sits between our breakfast nook and the family room–visible for mom or dad’s eye from many different angles.
There was a time when that time out chair got quite the workout. My mom even bought me a pillow to put in the chair that says “Mommy’s Time Out” because, well, time out was amusing to her. Not me. Time out worked quite well as a “punishment” in our house. Now that my daughter is four, we seem to be past the point of frequent time-outs (knock on wood). However, there was a time when I could just mumble the phrase “time out” and my daughter would start crying.
Now that’s power.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about a new technique called “time in.” Instead of punishing a child with a time out in a place where they can’t access any of their fun stuff, you are supposed to provide them with a quiet place where they can calm down–maybe even a place that the child has picked and created on their own, like a quiet corner or a make-shift tent complete with their favorite books and stuffed animals. I don’t know about you, but this seems about as effective as when my parents used to ground me to my room–where I could talk on the phone, listen to my stereo or paint my nails in peace.
However, some parents now believe that “time outs” aren’t effective because they don’t teach the child to deal with their feelings. Instead, “time ins” are meant to create an environment where a child can learn to deal with their feelings in a non-punishing way.
“A ‘time-in’ simply means taking some time together to try to calm down. Ask your child if she needs a hug or a ‘time-in'(or whatever name you want to call it),” Jennifer Kogan of The Washington Post writes.
Kogan then goes on to suggest staying close to your child until they calm down or allowing your child to lie next to the family pet to calm down. She also says that we should practice calming deep breathing techniques with our children and listen to guided imagery CDs with them so that they can learn to calm themselves.
What do you think parents? Time in or time out?
Image: Arvind Balaraman