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“Time out” needs a break

I recently gave a talk to a group of preschool parents about positive behavior. In the workshop, I suggested that we need to redefine discipline and think about it as an opportunity to teach our children.

Following my talk, an article was published in Time about the dangers of “time out.” The article, authored by Daniel Siegel, MD. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., shares how new brain research suggests that “time out” can elicit similar areas of the brain as when a child is physically abused.

Traditional “time out” focuses on the child’s negative behavior and forces the child to “go away” in fear or anger. The very nature of “time out” does not leave much opportunity for teaching or creating positive parenting interactions.

For parents and professionals who have long used “time out” as their go-to discipline strategy, Siegel and Bryson’s article leaves parents guessing.

However, their findings offer an opportunity to move beyond “time out” and strengthen the parent-child relationship. While traditional “time out” focuses on the negative and forces the child to “go away,” it is possible to use other strategies to manage troubling behavior.

One of these strategies includes prompting or helping your child to take a break. By offering an opportunity to take a break, or encouraging your child to take a break, parents are using redirection, a wonderful parenting strategy to redirect the child’s behavior and giving them a time to cool off.

It also differs from “time out” because you are not forcing the child to go away after they have misbehaved – forcing both the parent and the child to deal with a given situation. Taking a break or creating a cool down place is a strategy that can be used by everyone – even adults – and allows individuals an opportunity to develop better coping skills by learning to calm down and control their feelings.

When we, as parents, model this behavior and take a break ourselves, we are teaching our children the importance of managing one’s own behavior, and they, in turn, will learn to better manage their own feelings.

Maybe it is time to tell, “time out” to take a break.

Check back for more positive behavior strategies . . .

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