Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
‣‣‣ Henry Van Dyke
It’s worth making the effort to teach time out as a good routine. It is impossible to teach in the midst of correcting other major problems so use practice runs or small incidents to practice the time out process with an appropriate, “Thank you” for going through with the time-out routine.
It is important to note:
- Time-out removes child from a deteriorating or stalemate situation
- Time-out takes the child (and his/her antics) off centre stage
- Time-out gives both the parent and the child the opportunity to calm down and recover some composure. It allows for the opportunity for at least one of the people in this situation to be the adult.
- It is possible to develop a hand signal to send a child to time-out.
- It is possible to only use time-out as a bad consequence. Something has occurred, the immediate bad consequence is time-out. This can be to a small seat in an uninteresting but safe place, say, the laundry.
- It is possible only to use time-out as a recovery stage after an unacceptable behaviour and before bad consequences are given. Time-out in this instance is not the bad consequence. It is a recovery time for everyone. This can be in a bedroom.
- It is possible to only use time-out as a thinking time, possibly as a warning. This will serve as a reminder that a child has forgotten an agreed guideline for behaviour. He/she is not in trouble. Removing a child as a distraction from something that may have been about to escalate. It becomes a chance to get back on track for two minutes on a timer. (or the time it takes for an hour glass egg timer to go through a cycle.)
Two or even three of these options might be taught as a separate routine with different time-out language, signals and places.
- Name ~ eye contact/time-out signal ~ “Laundry!”
- Name ~ eye contact/time-out signal ~ “Bedroom!”
- Name ~ eye contact/smile/time-out signal ~ stairs/egg timer.
This is complex but not complicated or impossible for children.