I know, it sounds crazy! Or maybe for some of you who have been reading my blogs you think I am finally speaking your language, "time-out" sounds familiar. THIS is a whole different thing than the traditional time out. Jane Nelson promotes a Positive Time-Out, in which the child makes the choice to take a time-out.
I have to be honest, this is a very difficult tool for me to use. Even with understanding and good intentions it is hard for this not to become parent controlled and punitive. When my daughter was around 2 1/2 we introduced the idea of taken a time-out. A time to cool off when we feel frustrated, angry or upset. We hung some beautiful flower pictures in one corner of her bedroom, added a comfy chair and special pillow, and a basket of books. This was to be her special spot for cooling off. We explained it and talked about, probably way too much. It was a great idea, but it didn't work for us. Before long I was practically dragging my tantruming three year old to her special spot for what was not a very positive time-out. Of course she wouldn't stay there, because it was not her choice in the first place to be there and quickly her special place turned into her not-so-fun place. She was either too young or this tool just did not work. I abandoned the idea all together and hadn't tried it again until this past week, three years later!
The Parenting Tool Card this week actually coincided nicely with some other ideas that we have been working on at home. For the past month we have been introducing the idea of meditation or quiet time to our daughter. She is now much more concentrated and in control of herself in general, but she still "flips her lid" on occasion. We have downloaded some guided meditations for children, set up a peaceful place for her quiet time and allowed her to begin a meditation practice of her own. Each morning I que up one of the meditations for her and she spends 5-20 minutes in her room alone in silent presence! She has been really enjoying it. It has given her a sense of control over her feeling and emotions. Overall I think it has really helped her stay in control of herself. She still looses it occasionally though. Last week when she got upset about not being able to open a container and began to freak out, I bent down and quietly invited her to go into her peaceful place and spend a little time calming down. To my surprise she stomped off and went straight to her room. I let her go on her own. After about ten minutes she came back and said that she did one of the meditations that she had learned previously to help her let go of her angry feelings and feel happy again. I was really amazed, as was my husband! Another day I tried it again and she said she didn't want to go, so I offered to go with her, and she accepted. We went in her peaceful place together, hugged each other and then talked about how we are able to choose how we feel and how we act. We both agreed it feels better to be peaceful than angry!
Another important aspect to this tool is to model the behavior you desire. Adults can have a positive time-out too. If you meditate you can use that space, otherwise just choose a quiet place that you can go to cool down when you get upset. Tell your child that you need to go and take a time-out and that you will be back as soon as you feel calm again. This benefits everyone in your family!
Teaching children to be in control of their actions and emotions is such a valuable life tool. It is something they will be able to use throughout their entire life!
Next week the tool we will try is: Jobs!