The best part about the time-out concept is that it Stops The Child’s World. It works as a pattern interrupt, can calm emotions, and helps the child have space for a learning moment. The linked article has some very specific, helpful ideas. I really like how the author, Adriana Velez, writes about being calm and consistent, keeping it short, and having a follow-up with the child.
In the article, Velez writes that the location should have no distractions. She mentioned that some children don’t like to be alone and may see separation as a form of punishment. I don’t recommend separating the child completely away from other family members. What worked for us was having a designated chair where Zed sat when he needed that down time. We called it The Learning Chair. We kept it in a spot on the far side of the kitchen where he could see the kitchen and the dining room, but it was relatively low on distractions.
We asked him to think about what just happened while he sat there. I have a kinesthetic learner for a kid. Sitting still for him was tough. But it also helped him learn some self-control, especially important for those on-the-move kids.
Here’s one scenario from my memory files when Zed was two:
Zed draws with a crayon on the wall. I could decide to take the crayons away. But instead, I see it as an opportunity for a learning moment.
Me: Zed, don’t draw on the wall. It’s not respectful to draw on our walls. Here’s a piece of paper.
Zed, after a few minutes of drawing on the paper, draws on the wall.
I lead Zed over to the Learning Chair, repeating how we don’t draw on walls.
Me: Sit here for a minute. I want you to think about what I said.
Zed gets up.
I lead Zed back to the chair.
Me: I’ll be right here cutting vegetables. I want you to sit there and think about how we don’t draw on the walls.
After 30 seconds, I get down on his level where he’s sitting.
Me: What did you think about?
Zed: I want to draw on the walls.
Me: I know. It looks like a big giant place to draw. Do you agree, we don’t draw on walls?
Me: How about I put up a big piece of paper on the wall and you can draw on it.
He agrees. I give him a big hug. Then I get out the butcher paper (a roll of butcher paper is GREAT to always have on hand). I make sure it covers all the wall space so he doesn’t go off the paper. He draws the entire time I make dinner. What a win!
The first time you try the Learning Chair, pick an opportunity where emotions are not heated. That will make it easier for you to stay calm.
If you already do time-outs, let me know how they work. I love to get glimpses into your family.