I’ve been thinking a lot about time-outs recently – how over-used and ineffective they have become. The original meaning of the word, time-out, has taken on a whole new dimension. It used to mean take a break, refresh yourself, renew your spirit, outlook and energy.
Now it is the punitive solution to almost all discipline problems – no matter what they are, sometimes over and over again for the same misbehavior. According to many parents I talk to, they sense time -out isn’t working for their child or for them but don’t know what to do instead.
By relying so automatically on time outs, we are omitting any focus or insights on perhaps the real cause of the misbehavior, the child’s need as well as her goal. For all misbehavior has a goal attached.
As I was musing on this subject, I came across a poem written by a mom in Canada. I offer it here as food for thought, encouragement, permission if you need it, to try what this mom did and see what happens.
THE “TIME-OUT CHAIR
Today I took my four-year-old into my lap.
This was his time-out.
Time to cuddle with mommy
And hear how much he means to me.
Not him sitting alone in a chair
Feeling as if everyone hates him
I’m not the perfect parent.
I yell, throw things at my kids
And say mean stuff sometimes.
Today my kid was acting
Like what other people might call a brat
Kicking his brother
Knocking over toys
And yelling at the top of his lungs
To bug us all.
So I went over to him, lifted him up
And held him close, just us.
I told him he is special to me
He melted, tension flowed away.
Center of my world
He relaxed, aaaah…
After a few minutes
He jumped off my lap
And went to play quietly with his brother.
I watched in awe.
I finally listened to my insides
That said children need love
To be the center of one’s world
For just a few minutes
In the time-out chair.
by Alaina Chapman, Dunster, BC, Canada
Anyone who wants to explore reasons why their child is misbehaving and sitting in far too many time-outs, let’s talk. Just call Family Resources and ask for Fran.