Instead of Time-Out, Try a Time-In

  • Most of us have used time-outs for misbehavior.  Sometimes we findit just doesn't  work and give up on it.  Try the "time-in"strategy - it is a positive discipline approach to help children becomeresponsible for their own behavior.  It works best for childrenbetween two and twelve.

    Time-In Has Four Pieces:

    1) ASK - Asking encourages a child to think.  Ask questionsyour child can answer.  Ask clearly and without beingcritical.  Ask question that teach the lesson you want your childto learn.  Examples:  Do you remember the rule?  Why do we have that rule? 

    2) ACT - Act when it will be more helpful than asking. Act when your child is doing something unsafe.  Use ways of actingthat challenge your child to think and be responsible.  Acting ismost likely to work best with toddlers not ready for asking, amendingor attending.  Examples:  During a tantrum with a toddler, sit on the floor beside the child and repeat in a gentle voice, "You are okay."

    3) ATTEND - Attend means to pay attention to the situationand then deciding what to do.  It means paying attention to yourown behavior and feelings as well as your child's.  It also meansthat by paying attention to the positive behavior  you want yourchild to have, the negative behavior will decrease.

    4) AMEND - Making amends helps children learn to fix theirmistakes.  Amends are generally used for serious behavior. Start by asking your child "How can you fix this?  Youngerchildren may need suggestions.  Older children need to figure outhow to make amends on their own.  Making amends should be specificto the misbehavior and age-appropriate.  It is ok is the childexperiences some discomfort, but the point is not to cause shame orpain.  Example:  A child has a temper tantrum and spillsher plate of food on the floor.  Making amends may mean cleaningup their mess and mopping the floor.

    adapted from "Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn't Work" by Jean Illsley Clar, Parenting Press, 1999.