Time in or Time out? Both are time honored discipline strategies. The best answer, it depends. Both can work. Children crave the attention of their parents or caregivers. They prefer this attention to most anything. They like it more than any candy, toys, video games, videos and screens. In the end, children want nothing more in this world than to bask in the light of their parents’ one-on-one attention. If we can fill their “attention tanks” in response to good behavior, they’ll be less likely to seek attention by acting out. When they are acting out, we have a choice between time in or time out.
Time Out is appropriate when some removal of attention will defuse the situation, allow some time to cool down, decrease the reinforcement of negative attention, provide encouragement to get back on track to gain the reward of positive attention.
Some clues that time out is not actually working:
*You feel the need to place your child in time out daily, sometimes hourly.
*When the child is in time out she repeatedly asks when she can get up.
*When the child is running away at the mention or threat of time out.
* You feel the need to place your child in time out for every thing they are dong “wrong”.
*When you find yourself using time out for the same offense over and over again.
*You get angrier and angrier as you struggle to get your child to quiet down so you can start the timer.
Time In is effective when someone just needs a bit more attention, over tired, over stimulated, needs support in getting emotions back in check. The goal at this point is to coach to calm and help regain regulation.
Reasons Time IN or positive time out works:
*children are likely to feel that their needs are being considered
*connection before correction
*children able to regulate feelings
*decrease power struggles
*decrease feelings of isolation, shame, guilt, and retaliation
*opportunity to talk about real issues
Discipline needs to be individualized, chosen to meet the needs of the child while also achieving the relationship and behavioral goals of the parent. One size doesn’t fit all.