Friday, June 17, 2011

52 Tool Cards: Positive Time-Out

This week's tool card is Positive Time-Out. 

Jane Nelsen explains (emphasis in original):
People do better when they feel better.  Positive time-out helps us cool off and feel better.
1) Create a time-out space with your children. Let them decide what it would look like and what is in it.
2) Let them give it a special name.
3) When they are upset ask, "Would it help to go to your _____ place?"
4) Model using positive time-out by going to your own special place when you are upset.
In our house, we have set up a Comfort Corner for this purpose, and C has sometimes also used her room. 

C takes a break with her friends in her Comfort Corner
 Also, given her age, I still consider myself her mobile comfort corner.  Many times when she's acting up, just a short period of "mommy time" will set things aright again.  Before she weaned, nursing may have been involved.  Now, we snuggle and sometimes play silly games.

Here's a glimpse of how Positive Time-Out worked in our family a few months ago, from my Rubber Meets the Road post:

Later tonight while I was making dinner, she was angry that her time for water play at the sink was over, and she started throwing things again. I took her to her room and suggested that she could stay there and calm down and talk to her puppets again for ideas about what else to do when she is angry, and she was free to come out whenever she felt ready. I overheard murmurs of her talking to them, didn't catch what she said. Not too much later she came out and found a cup of herbal tea I hadn't quite finished and started to drink that, then played quietly with some other toys while I finished dinner.

Wait a minute, was sending her to her room a punishment? Is this all just semantics? Not in my opinion. Putting her in her room differed from a traditional time out in several ways. No arbitrary time limit, for one. The words I used to describe it were matter of fact and not shaming in any way. Instead of "making her think about what she had done," the stated purpose was just to give her (and me, let's be honest) a break and space to calm herself. C was free to come out whenever she felt better.
I feel confident about the use of Positive Time-Out, although my version differs a bit from how it is described on the card.  One thing I'd like to work on for myself is step 4, the modeling part. 

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