Time-out is one of those disciplinary techniques that never worked for me. In my early days as a mother, I had visions of Tyler going obediently to his room and taking his time-out like a soldier. The reality of the situation is he has never gone to time-out without a struggle. I understand the time-out procedure, in theory, and I believe I have followed the steps correctly but for some reason it never worked for me.
Then I read something interesting today. It has always been my understanding that a child’s time starts when they are in the time-out area sitting quietly. This has generally been the failure of time-out for me because Tyler goes to time out struggling and then once he’s there he cries, whines, tries to bargain, etc. In the book, Common Sense Parenting, by Raymond Burke and Ronald Herron, in a chapter on time-out, the following question is asked, “What counts as quiet time?”
“Duh”, I thought, when the child is q-u-i-e-t! Hello. As I read the answer, I was surprised that the authors consider quiet time any time when the child is not mad or angry. They also say that the parent has to decide when the child is being calm and quiet and further point out that some kids simply cannot sit perfectly still and quiet when in time-out. However, the child should not be punished if they are fidgeting and engaging in “happy talk”, but otherwise obeying the rules of time-out. So if Tyler is singing or talking softly to himself, this should count as quiet time.
So now, I’m thinking that perhaps time-out was successful on a few occasions and I simply didn’t realize it. I can recall a few times when Tyler was doing just what the authors said– talking and singing to himself. However, in my opinion I didn’t consider this as being quiet so his time didn’t start and the struggle continued. For parents just starting to use time-out, I think this information is good to know. For me, well, I’m beginning to wonder if Tyler’s getting too old for time-out anyway. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind the next time he misbehaves. It can’t hurt to try.