Professional CornerTime out has been used, abused, and mostly misused in the last several years. Time outs have been held as the answer to all manner of discipline issues. Syndi takes a constructive look at the use of time outs, and its limitations, as well as its applicability to adults.
As we begin the new year I think you will find this information relevant and timely. The area of discipline and limit setting is an area that we continually need to target when working with families. As parents and professionals, we need to model these skills, and most of all practice them in our own lives.
"I prefer using the term 'cooling-off'
What is all the talk about time out?
by Syndi Ecker from her Positive Parenting Series
So often as we read more about managing our lives in the areas of stress, time, anger, etc., the experts give us the advice to "take time out for yourself" And truly this is great advice to us. It lets us know how important we are and teaches us how to cope with the problems in our lives. It gives us time to process information and to solve problems rather than find blame.
Why then is timeout used as punishment when it comes to children?
When time-out is used positively it becomes part of the learning process towards self-control. Time-out used as punishment is based on a parents control which invites rebellion and revenge and decreases self-esteem. Rather, when time-out is based on dignity and reject it becomes a source of comfort which helps us to feel better. When we (adults or children) feel better, we do better. Why then do we insist on allowing our children to feel bad before we try to get them to change a behavior? How many of us are willing to change our behavior when we are feeling bad? In fact, can we even accept that our behavior is inappropriate when we are feeling challenged or humiliated?
The idea behind time-out is really to cool-off. I prefer using the term "cooling-off" because it lends itself to a more positive approach. Cooling off says exactly what it is we want to attain. That is, a time (whatever it takes) to let our emotions get settled, to rethink our position, to process information and to come up with solutions. Time-outs create a setting to engage us in interpersonal problem-solving skills. Remember, this is one of the goals in the Developing Capable People concept and a factor for resiliency; a key towards success!
It will take time and adjustments for both children and adults to change their ideas about using time-outs as a positive, encouraging experience. However, it is worth the time and effort to make the change. The results will be a happier, more cooperative child, who feels good about themselves and their autonomy. Imagine what that might do for us adults!! The change won't happen overnight but is well worth it.
There are some keys to effective use of timeouts (cooling-off):
Suggested reading: Time-out: Uses and Abuses by Jane Nelson
Syndi Ecker is the parent education coordinator for Pediatric Services and is available for seminars or workshops. If you have any parenting questions you would like her to answer, send her an email at this web site.
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