Time-Outs are a waste of time. Don’t you think? I mean, have you found them to be a good learning tool? Have they been effective?
They weren’t for me, until I tweaked my approach, just a bit. 
Most parents use Time-Outs. Conventional parenting philosophies  encourage this. Yet most moms and dads say it doesn’t really help. If you are among the Parental Time-Outers, I’d like you to think about the technique from this perspective. Let’s say you desire to lose weight. (This must be on my  mind with swim suit season upon us. Anyway….) A week later, you make the fatal decision to slide a chair over to the upper cupboard, step up, get on your tippy-toes and reach waaaaaaay back on the shelf to grab that creamy Symphony  milk chocolate bar- which you hid from yourself and the kids  the week before. (Tell me you do this, too.)
 
Part way through the sweet delight, you are caught red-handed. You are sternly told, “Go to your room and think about what you did wrong.” Next the amount of incarceration time is declared, “Stay in your room the exact number of minutes as your age!”
 
What would you be thinking about? Chocolate. The taste. Wanting more. Figuring out how to get another fix without getting caught.
And- the older you are the more time you have to dwell on these thoughts. HMMMM.
 
While focusing on the deed and the desert, the desire for chocolate would increase, wouldn’t it? Rather than figuring out how to avoid the temptation the NEED for it would be reinforced.
 
That’s what time out does. 
It reinforces the very behavior the parent wants to extinguish.
 
So…put time-out in the penalty box and try this instead. A TIME IN. Have your youngster take time to think about how to behave differently the next time. (There is always a next time!)
 
Kids can do this.
 
Once the child has figured out how to handle a situation more appropriately  he can return to the family fold with his plan. No sense waiting for a particular time period. Once a solution is arrived at, it’s better to  move on with the day. Have your child tell you his new plan combined with an apology.
Child: “Instead of screaming, I will use a respectful voice when I ask for something. I’m sorry I was disrespectful. Will you forgive me?”
Parent: “Of course, I’ll forgive you. I love you. Good plan. I like the idea of using a respectful voice. And… how great you came up with your idea so quickly.”
 
Hug.
 
The child has done some good problem solving, the idea of the replacement action has been reinforced, restitution  sought, and relational reconciliation has occurred.
 
Time-In is effective.
 
As I tell the moms and dads I work with, get your child thinking. Seek to train for the desired behavior and to reinforce the character qualities you hope to grow in your child. 
Which behaviors usually warrant a time-out in your home? Try to tweak the OUT to an IN.
(Now, where is that almond, toffee, and chocolate treat?)
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

 

 
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13Parenting.com. She has written 5 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. and her most recent book Messy Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family ConnectionsContact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.