Building a Comfort & Cuddle Corner
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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