About Time Outs

Submitted by PeterAKenny on July 14, 2020

What does the coach do when his basketball team loses control of the game?  A good coach calls a time out.  Not so much to give his team new instructions but to “stop the bleeding.”  Give them some time to regroup.

Time outs have an honorable history for effectiveness for parents in dealing with fighting and with temper tantrums.  Rather than punishing their child, the parent applies a non-punitive consequence, one designed to stop the wild behavior without demeaning the person.

One foster parent found a fun way to stop fighting.  When two of her young foster children began to scream at and hit each other, she shouted “Hugo.” With that, she named one of the youngsters Hugo (You go….)  He was sent someplace else, to his room or outside for a short period.  She knew her discipline was working when one of the combatants complained: “Why can’t I be Hugo?”

Another foster parent developed a simple way to stop her four-year-old when he began to shout and strike out at not getting his way. Rather than yelling at him or threatening punishment, she blew her whistle and said Time out.”  Then she picked him up and placed him on a high-back stool with no arms.  He had to remain there long enough to calm down.  She wisely realized that the important issue was not whether he could have his way but whether he could control his behavior.  In fact, he became so concerned with not falling off the stool that his lack of control subsided rapidly.

What to do?  It’s simple. First, you need a loud noise to get their attention.  Perhaps a short blast on whistle, a horn, or a magic word. Then remove your child from the immediate situation and engage him in some activity.  You will have better results if the new activity is something that captures his attention. Good luck!

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