In our home timeouts were in large part a cooling off period. Therefore if my child wasn't ready to come out of time out it was probably because they just weren't ready yet and I'd leave them. The expectation in our home was that both of us be able to discuss what earned the time out in a rational manner once it was over. Sometimes they weren't ready to do that just yet. I actually saw it as a really good thing since it showed me that my kids understood, at least kinda, that the timeout wasn't a punishment but a cooling off period. Both my kids also very very rarely put themselves in time outs.
Mine wouldn't have stayed all night however. I actually cannot imagine them doing so. I've had several kids not ready to get out of time out (my own kids and cousin's kids). I just sat nearby and let them know I was ready whenever they were.
I would take a long, hard look at why and how I'm doing time-outs with him / her.
In our house we're doing time-outs (adults and children) when we need to cool off. So I (very rarely) send ds to his room and he's free to get out whenever he's ready to behave in a civilized manner. This could be a minute or an hour. Sometimes he starts reading or playing and forgets to get out of the room. I'm fine with it.
I would let dk stay in his time-out spot until it's time to move on to another activity that includes him / her (dinner, bedtime, outing etc.)
Ds 9 and dd 5
Is there anything that I can say in the future to gently suggest she tweek her timeout practices?
So what is the child doing in time out? Sitting? Are they in a place where they can play?
I admire kids who can sit still for a long time - many adults can't do that. This is a great quality that will get them far in life. If I was to take that one step further, I would consider teaching the child to meditate to help them clear their mind and learn greater focus. This is a good skill if used properly.
It sounds like time-outs are seriously backfiring and the relationship between the child and parent is not on a healthy track. The child would rather be by himself in a remote part of the house all night? I'd wonder if either the child has some attachment issues or isn't neurotypical in some way. Or I'd wonder if the child has become emotionally distant to protect himself from being rejected by techniques like time-outs. Although not all kids have an extreme reaction, highly sensitive kids could feel rejected to that extent.
Yeah, my kids have fallen asleep in time out before (we don't do them a lot, usually only when behavior is completely crazy, which generally means that they're exhausted). I just pick them up and put them in bed if timeout was elsewhere. I also don't do timeout if the reason for the meltdown is low blood sugar or hungriness. I tell them they have to eat before we can discuss anything else. But unless timeout is on a couch and the kid falls asleep, AND moving the kid to bed will awaken them, I can't imagine leaving them in timeout personally. OTOH, since it's not your kid, I would shy away from saying much about it, as I don't like to interfere in other's families unless it's actually abusive, and I don't think this sounds abusive, just odd.
Book loving, editor mom to 2
My son "self punishes", which is weird enough in itself. But he also won't come down from these self-induced time-outs, quite often. He'll either tell me that he's still in trouble and isn't allowed to come down (???) or he'll sometimes fall asleep, because the reason for him being in such a crummy mood was that he was over-tired. If he falls asleep, I let him sleep. If he doesn't want to come down, I'll tell him I love him and would love to spend time with him when he's ready to come down from his room, and he eventually comes down on his own accord.
It's the strangest thing, and I don't really know anyone else that deals with it, so I'm sorry I don't have much advice! Just want to say you're not alone. =P
I don't know wha tI would do. my kids have somtimes not wanted to come out, either because they started playing something and were busy with that and they stay until they move on in theri play, or they were mad and didn't want to come out. I say come out when you are ready and it has never been more than 5 minutes.