A few decades ago, punishing children with a time out and sending them to their bedrooms was not only standard, but also fairly effective. It allowed the child to remove themselves from the immediate environment of the conflict and cool down. However, today kids’ rooms are filled with all sorts of entertainment, from computers, to video games, and even televisions! In modern times, sending a child to their room is barely a punishment anymore. It places them in an environment where they are easily distracted and view time out as a fun playtime. In other words, they are rewarded for bad behavior, and in the future, they will not take time out seriously. Instead of this, there are several other options that parents can use to help children calm down and understand why their behavior was wrong.
Time Out in a Common Area
Instead of sending children to their bedrooms, some parents instead designate a public space in the house as the time out area. Ideally, it should be an area with little distraction where the child will not be disturbed by others. For example, they might ask the child to sit in a corner of the living room, a guest bedroom, or even in the garden until their tantrum has passed. It is vital to tell other kids in the house to leave that child alone for a while, to avoid any further conflict or provocation. The common area used for time out should not offer any mental or physical rewards. In this case, rewards count as things that might entertain the child, such as toys, games, food, or even people walking by talking to the child.
Taking Time Out Together
Some experts suggest having the parent take a time out with the child. This allows both sides to compose themselves, since parents can often become equally excitable. After the two have had a little time to calm down, they can then quietly discuss the incident, as well as possible solutions together. It is important that time out is not used to embarrass kids. Rather, it should be used as a tool to allow them to recover and cope more effectively with their actions. A great idea for a parent-child time out is by going for a walk together. This type of physical activity can be done in silence, until the child is ready to talk. During this type of time out, parents might ask the child to come up with solutions to the problem on their own instead of telling them what they should be doing. If the child had been fighting with a sibling over a book, the parent might guide him or her towards a plan that would allow both children to share the book or read it together. In allowing the child to come up with solutions for their own bad behavior, it ensures that they are less likely to misbehave in future.
Allow Them to Switch Gears
Another idea to help children recover from an upset mood is by giving them something constructive to do alone. Parents might ask them to complete a small jigsaw puzzle, count out beads in a bowl, or copy a picture. This allows them to focus their mind on an entirely different task that requires concentration. In the process, they can calm down, and the parent can then discuss their earlier behavior in a more relaxed manner. In some cases, children who finish the task and realize that they are not yet ready to talk may even start the task over again on their own. The main advantage is that by the end of that time, the child will be more in control of their emotions and thoughts, and more ready to listen.
Temporarily Removing Privileges
If a child is acting up with another child over modeling clay, instead of forcing him to take a time out, the parent might try an alternative. The child temporarily loses their privilege to play with the modeling clay, and is instead assigned to play with another toy. If the child values playing with modeling clay, they must be told that they can return to it when they have decided to play nicely without fighting. This method allows children to have some control over their time out. They know that they can have their privileges restored when they actively show that they can play peacefully without misbehaving.