As my eyes slowly opened this morning, I focused immediately on my son who had apparently climbed into bed with me after his dad left for work. He was wide awake with a big smile from ear to ear. “Good morning mommy” he said, and by how excited it came out, I knew he had something to tell me. What came next brought me a big smile “Mommy, can we add another rule to our list? – Be kind to our friends and family”. I told him that was a brilliant idea.
We are still early in our family transition but so far I am seeing major changes. My fiancé already seems less stressed, our son is telling anyone who will listen about our new family rules (and so far following them) and I am beginning to foresee a future that looks much more promising for our family.
Now, the #1 question I have had so far since implementing our new rules is in regards to “Time-In” as a replacement for “Time-Out”. Let me explain the main concept of a Time-In (my version of it at least) and then tell you about why I am choosing this method over Time-Outs.
Time-Outs in our house were always done on our stairway landing (or any other set of stairs, depending on where we were). We would typically leave the room so he could not see us and it would be timed at 1 minute for every year of age. Our son was up to 5 minutes. The spot we chose was isolated and away from the rest of the family.
A time-in requires a special dedicated place like a time-out but with different requirements. I have read terms such as “Cuddle Corner” or “Comfort Corner” to describe it. We have yet to choose a name in our house yet but the idea is that you make it comfortable and inviting. Pillows, blankets, books, quiet toys, etc…
When your child exhibits less than desirable behaviour and your first attempts at correcting them fail, you invite them to join you in this location. This is a place for learning, reflection and cooling down. The parent will then strike up a conversation with the child discussing the behaviour, the reason behind it and possible solutions for next time. This is also a time to listen to your child’s concerns and help them deal with the feelings or emotions that led the behaviour in the first place. After your chat & cuddle, you can invite the child to continue to spend some alone time there and rejoin the family when they feel ready. They may be ready right away or they may choose to take more time to themselves.
Now, until a few days ago, I was a huge advocate for the Time-Out. I always felt it worked for us but when I never took into account was whether it was working in the long-term. Yes, it forced my child to stop the behaviour for the time being but he was definitely a repeat offender. We began noticing that he was getting time-outs for the same few things on a regular basis. I also feared that my son was learning that when he was not behaving, we would not be there for him. I want him to grow up knowing that no matter what, we will always love him and care for him. That he can talk to either of us about anything, even if it’s something bad.
What I like about this Time-In technique is that it still has what I loved most about a Time-Out – the “cool down” factor. You are still removing them from the situation so they can calm down and think about what has just occurred, but in this case you are there with them to help them sort through what just happened, to understand how they got to that point and teach them how to avoid it in the future.
I am looking forward to seeing the results in our household.
As a quick little side-note, I am now on twitter so please take a moment and follow me. I will be giving updates on the family, along with sharing any articles or information I find interesting. I’ll try and include some humour too since everyone loves a good laugh!