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Time In - An Alternative To Time Out
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Time In:

Building a Comfort & Cuddle Corner

 

“Time Out” has become an icon for parenting, care-giving and supervising children.  Most homes, daycares, church nurseries and other established places for children have an area designated for the often-used Time Out. 

 

Time Out is used for various “offenses.” In some homes and institutions, in fact, it’s used for most offenses.  The standard protocol goes something like this: a child misbehaves, is removed from play and is required to sit in time out. The prevailing “rule of thumb” is one minute for each year of age.

 

Because Time Out was developed and is implemented as an alternative to spanking, it’s used primarily as a replacement punishment.  Although Time Out is not the worst discipline tool ever developed, it’s certainly not the most effective. There are other, more beneficial discipline tools.

 

I’d like to offer reasons to consider reducing or eliminating the Time Out tool in your home:


(1) Time Out is typically thrown at a child in the absence of actual teaching.  A child who seems to need a Time Out more likely needs some instruction, guidance, role playing or re-direction. 


(2) Time Out usually involves isolation, causing a child to experience stress and discomfort. Isolation teaches nothing of value and does not impart knowledge or experience. 

 

(3) Time Out is rarely related to the issue of concern, and a child is unable to relate the discipline to the event that precipitated it.

I’d like to suggest a completely different idea: Let’s do “Time In” instead.

The premise behind Time In considers both long- and short-term issues. It teaches a child how to nurture and care for themselves.  In the short term, it’s a tool that can be suggested by the parent and used by the child daily. 

Instead of a Time Out chair, the “Cuddle Corner” is a designated area in your home that is to be used for rejuvenation, reflection, lowering of intensity, regrouping and child-directed down time.  It’s a place where comfort is available, and company, too, if requested.

A child isn’t sent to Time In, they are invited to go. Unlike Time Out, the child isn’t sent alone; he/she can have company. He doesn’t need to sit and wait; he can engage in comforting, soothing and appropriate play.

When we created our first Cuddle Corner, I talked to my (then) 2 kids and told them what we were doing. In simple terms, I explained that “we are making an area of our home, near everyone, where we can go when our behavior is less than acceptable. It’s a place for us to learn to make ourselves feel better so we can join the family again. It’s to be used by children and adults.” I had the kids gather some of their favorite stuffed animals, blankets and books. We put them near a special and comfortable chair in the family room, and then we sat in the Cuddle Corner and talked. I told them how we would be using these items and that I would be with them whenever they felt they needed me there.

Cuddle Corner works like this: a child would get upset and the usual re-direction wouldn’t work, or, they would have a series of unacceptable behaviors. I would suggest the Cuddle Corner and offer to go with them. We would sit and cuddle, read, and hold our stuffed animals. When they felt ready, they could rejoin the family. Since we had already talked about the problem (as in “you are having trouble not hurting your sister, and I think the Cuddle Corner might help”), I do not talk about it again.

I used it consistently for a long time, and then stopped. When my third child turned 2 and exhibited certain aggressive behaviors, I realized we were in need of it again. We went through a similar process and, because the kids were a little older, renamed it Comfort Corner. We added meditation books, Bibles, a candle. We also do our family devotion and prayer there.

OK, OK! I can hear those readers unfamiliar with positive discipline saying: “Oh, this doesn’t make any sense. How can you reward bad behavior? You’ve got to be kidding!” I understand your reaction because I had the same one. I changed my mind when I tried it and saw that it consistently decreases unacceptable behavior and helps prevent the child from repeating the same problems. My experience is that the kids learn more about self-control using the Comfort Corner than they would after 100 Time Outs.

With the Comfort Corner, you are teaching your children vital skills that they will be able to use for a lifetime.

And just as important, you are building a relationship with your child that is defined by trust, respect, and confidence.

 

For more information:

 

http://www.positivediscipline.com/articles/Time_Out_for_Children.html

 

http://www.naturalchild.com/guest/peter_haiman.html