How to make Time Outs work better

By Jean Tracy, NW Author, Parent Newsletter

Are you tired of arguing with your kids? Do you wish your kids would take responsibility for their actions? Here’s an easy way. Let’s find out about Time Out (T.O.) using my 3 special twists. You can easily use them with kids from ages 3 to 11 years old.  When my boys were growing up, I used T.O. often. If they sassed, snuck out to play without doing their chores, or fought with each other, they went to T.O. First, I’ll describe T.O. Then I’ll add my 3 special twists.

Use Time Out when your child misbehaves:

– Place your child in a boring room (no TV, computers, or toys.)
– Use a timer and set one minute for each year of your child’s age. For example, wind the timer to 3 minutes for a 3 year-old and 9 minutes for a 9 year- old.
– Calm yourself down and think wisely while your child is in T.O.
– Let your child out of T.O. when the timer buzzes.
– Don’t lecture. Your child won’t listen anyway.

My Three Time Out Twists:

1. I sent my sons to the bathroom floor.

2. When either son came out of T.O., he had to tell me why he was sent there. If he said, “I dunno,” I sent him back.

3. When either son was in T.O., I’d calm myself down and decide whether his behavior deserved something more than T.O. If it did, I’d tell him, “This is serious. I need more time to think about further consequences.”

Why the bathroom floor?

One of my sons would look in the bathroom mirror while crying. The sight of himself in tears made him feel sorry for himself and encouraged him to cry even more. He’d see himself as the victim of a mean mom – me. Sitting on the floor put a stop to that. After all, he was there to think about what he had done.

How did they take responsibility?

By telling me why they were sent to T.O., they were admitting what they had done wrong. Usually, I’d say, “Yes,” and they were free to go. Sometimes I’d have to bite my tongue to stop the lectures from tumbling out.

What extra consequences did they get?

If they needed more consequences besides T.O., I tried to make the consequence fit the crime. Here are some:

1. No bike for a week if they snuck out to ride it without doing their chores.

2. Apologize if they said something mean.

3. Write or draw what happened and how they could have handled it better.

If you want to parent without arguments, listen to your children take responsibility for their behaviors, and, if you are willing to be consistent, consider using Time Out with my 3 twists. If you do, you’ll have a more peaceful household, a happier household, and you’ll be building character too.

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