The last of three parts regarding timeouts.
A “parent timeout” is beneficial if sending your child to time out isn’t appropriate, necessary or deserving of an action, yet the parent is highly frustrated and approaching an angry response.
A moment alone to compose yourself, take a breath and decide how to best handle the situation will always pay off.
I have overheard “Mommy needs a timeout.” Although it is wonderful that parents know when they are reaching a boiling point and need a break, that phrase sends a mixed message to a child, implying that mommy has misbehaved. A clear message is “I’m taking a quiet time (to make my decision, think things over),” which models self-control and removal from a heated situation.
For older children in their tweens and teens a “blackout” of goods and services” is extremely effective and serves the same teaching purpose as a timeout. When a child is in a blackout, he may not use any electronics, enjoy any privileges, take car rides, be with friends, engage in conversation, or solicit help or answers from you or any other family member — absolutely nothing until he appropriately apologizes and takes responsibility for his actions.
When implemented appropriately, your child will respond immediately when warned that he is headed into a blackout.
The best way to teach positive behaviors and minimize the need for a timeout is to model what you want your child to do, and then recognize it over and over and over again when he does it! Identify the exact behavior you just saw, and reach over to make a connective touch. “I just love to watch you share with your sister!” Whatever we pay attention to will continue, over and over.
When training a puppy to sit, we provide lots of praise. Even a year later, when we give the command to sit and the dog does sit, we recognize compliance and praise with “good dog.” We need to train and praise our children at least as consistently as we do our family dog.
Making the effort to continually comment on positive behaviors will absolutely minimize the need for timeout, because children will always do the right thing, when they are recognized for it.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702.