Why Time Out?
As people back away from spanking as a tool, they implement time outs. While I believe that time outs are a better tool than spanking, they are still not a go-to tool for our family.
The way I have seen time outs implemented go something like this.
It’s supper time and almost 2-year-old Andrew is sitting in his chair. He throws some food down for the dog.
“Andrew, don’t throw your food.”
Food is thrown.
“Andrews, I said, don’t throw your food.”
Food is thrown.
“Andrew, this is your last warning. Don’t. Throw. Food.”
Andrew giggles, looks around to see if anyone else is laughing, and in the process, knocks over his glass of water and is sent/taken to his room for a time out.
But why a time out? What is a time out teaching Andrew? Let’s look at the encounter above and see what he’s learned.
Well, he’s learned what not to do to avoid going into time out.
But for dh and I, we want our girls to learn what TO do. And time outs don’t teach what to do. Most likely, at our house, the supper scenario would have (and has!) gone this way.
“Sweetness, food goes in our mouths. If you’re done, tell Mommy.”
Food is thrown. “Food goes in our mouth.”
Removed from booster seat, given a towel. “When we drop things, we clean them up.” And she would have wiped up the food, with help as needed.
Well, actually, first I would have HALTSed her. HALTS stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Sick.
It’s the end of the day, she’s tired and kids don’t eat as much at the end of the day as they do at lunch or snack. That’s why we try to avoid giving a new food at supper–she’s much more likely to refuse food at the end of the day.
Is she upset about something? Did she and her sister get an equal amount of servings of food XYZ?
Is she lonely? Have we filled up her love tank today? Sweetness thrives on touch–have we spent time cuddling and reading?
Shortly after supper, it’s bedtime for the girls. So is she tired and ready to sleep? How many hours has she been up?
And last, is she sick?
It sounds like a lot to run through and remember, but we’ve been HALTsing for so long, it’s second nature.
We are NOT trying to find an excuse for unwanted behavior. We are seeking to understand what is keeping her from wanting to act nicely.
So, instead of time out, we’d do an internal HALTS check and have her help clean up.
Does this work? Yes, yes it does.
When her little sister spilled water the other day, Sweetness snatched the towel out of my hand and thoroughly mopped it all up, while saying. “When we spill, we clean it up!”