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Alternatives to Time out

584 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  gratefulmom
Do you use a form of Time out? If so, do you call it a time out or do you call it something else. If not, what do you do instead? I need some new discipline tools to use with my 2 1/2 year old.

I was re-reading Dr. Sears' Gentle Discipline book, and in it he discusses starting time out when the child is about 18 months old. We never did that. I like the concept of having a "time in", i.e. sitting with the parent away from the negative activity. But, is that just a difference of semantics?

Up until now, we have used other forms of discipline....redirect, substitute, move away from the object, etc. But, with dd being 2 1/2 now, I feel that I need to get the point across more. So, I've used an official "time-out" twice. Once was for hitting the dog (AGAIN!). I told her she was having a time out and we went to her room and sat on the bed. she sat on my lap, crying, and I told her that we had to stay there for 2 min because she hurt the dog. "When you hit doggie, you can't play with her."

The second time was for a big no-no, hitting DH, because she didn't get her way. I told her she was going to have a time out. The minute the words were out of my mouth, she started crying and saying she didn't want to go to her room. I tried to be understanding, but firm as well, saying "I know you don't want to go to your room, but when you hit mommy or daddy, you can't play with us. We are going to have a time out in your room for 2 minutes."

SO, is this doing more harm than good? I'm trying to address the negative behavior more so than punish. To me, time-out seems like it encompasses both, provided you don't go overboard and overuse it for every little thing. Also, I think it's important to have the parent be around for the time out. Do you agree or disagree?

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Libby, wish I had a good response for you.
I am right there with you though. DS is 2 now (6-01) and I dont know what ti do when it comes to hitting and pushing. I try "you hit, you sit" but htat becomes a game to him. I have tried giving the person he pushes the attention and he likes that. So I try to sit with him and say we need to sit, you cannot play right now if you are hitting. It doesnt seem to help.
I'm anxious to hear some ideas....
We use what most people call time outs. But I am very aware of what I am teaching instead of just punishing/banishing them for behavior that I don't like. I do not use any set amount of time or clock to determine when they can rejoin the activity. They can come back whenever they feel ready to pet the dog nice, help Daddy feel better, or whatever phrase is appropriate there. A timer has no way of knowing when they feel able to reenter the situation that just overwhelmed them. They get to hear what needs to be done differently. I have two kids so sometimes it's difficult, but I try to offer to stay with them if they want me to. My goal is to remove them from the moment, give them a chance to pull themselves together, be comforted and heard, and hear what they can do differently next time. We usually use the stairs for our moments of removal because they are adjacent to the family room, pretty private, and not many distractions there.

I often end up sitting with them on the stairs for a few minutes, then walking away letting them choose when they feel ready to participate. Then, when they come over I greet them enthusiastically telling them I'm happy they are choosing to be happy or whatever fits.

I want them to know I want them to be included, I am happy they can sort things out. My goal is that when they are older and feel angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed that they walk away, cool off, think of what to do or say instead, and then come back.

I also am a little afraid to use their rooms as a place they have to go when you aren't happy with their behavior. It just seems that would set you up for them associating being left in their room as a bad thing and it would carry over and disrupt sleep comfort.
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We've delt with hitting as well (few parent's haven't I'm sure.
). We don't use time-outs. When DS hits the cat, we make sure the cat is ok, put her in a safe place away from DS and then, explain to DS simply and shortly (too many words = DS tuning us out), "that he may treat the cat gently, or leave the cat alone. His choice." The next time the cat comes around, I keep a very close eye on him. I trust him as best I can to do the right thing and say nothing. If it looks as if he going to be rough, I intervene without letting him know what I'm assuming and say, "Oh, Sidney just loves a head scratch!" And we go forth TOGETHER in petting the cat. By preventing it before the onset, and then giving him a gentler option, I help him find a better way to behave with the cat and we connect, rather than disconnect through discipline.

If DS hits DH or I--when he's tired or really worked up, he can get punchy--we hopefully stop the arm gently, but firmly before the strike. We usually say something like, "I won't let you hurt me. I would LOVE a hug though." If DS is worked up (from playing hard or being in a tired frenzy), often times hitting is about connecting. He's so wired though that his signals get crossed and he needs hands on redirection. He knows it's wrong and that it doesn't feel good, and I don't feel I need to drive the point home about that-- e's been hit by a playmate or two. Later, when we're back in a good emotional space, I'll play or talk with DS about hitting, if we happen to come across it through play or conversation. I generally let him take the lead on this and grab my opportunities to help him through where Ic an. This has helped us work through much of those very normal aggressive behaviors.

If the hitting is in anger (as in the situation you described), I would again try and stop the hand before it strikes. I would then let her know that it's perfectly ok to FEEL angry, but it's not ok to hit. Validating emotions is important kids. Feeling so strongly can be unnerving and they need to know it's ok. OTOH, not all actions can be accepted such in the case of aggression. I imagine that at 2 1/2, she fairly verbal? I would add to my comments then, that she's welcome to TELL you in her words how she feels and that you will listen (not necessarily change your mind about the situation mind you, but that you will be understanding of how she feels). Kids need our help in finding different, more acceptable ways of dealing with strong feelings. I don't feel time-out is an effective way of doing this, but that's just my opinion of course.

Honestly, though I credit Dr. Sears with much of my AP knowledge with regard to babies, I pretty much parted ways with him on discipline issues. I found Playful Parenting and How To Talk... much more in step with my own instincts. And again, that's just me of course.

Best of luck!
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I used to use time outs with dd, but in my quest to have logical consequences for her actions, they just seemed to have faded away. With the dog, I do the same thing as Embee: tell dd if she continues to hit, the dog will have to go away for awhile. Then I follow through by putting him in my bedroom. I guess you can't put dh away though!
My dd doesn't hit or bite anymore (I'm very lucky about that one). I have mentioned having a time out with mommy occasionally, when she does something. But it really never happens.
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We use time-outs. I don't put her in her room very often, though. I don't want her room to be a place where she goes to feel sad or banished. I have sent her there on the few occasions where she just seemed like she needed to go back to bed--because her behavior was deteriorating to the point where she is destructive or abusive (hitting, etc.).

What we do is have a place for her in the same room but just away from everything. If she starts screaming/yelling, I do tend to move her to part of the house where she can still see us--or not--but that is away from us so that we don't feed her tantrum. She will spiral out of control very quickly and it doesn't matter who is there or not.

We also let her decide when to come back--

I just wanted to add that while I do consider timeouts to be one of the tricks in my bag, it is very low on my list of reactions. There haven't been many times we've had to use it. But it has worked well. I was thinking about how we are all answering your question of "do we use time outs" but some are actually expanding and adding other ways to handle the situations and I think that is wonderful for you to hear. It's a good last resort, when everything else just isn't getting their attention, or breaking the cycle.
I have used "timeout" with dd (2 yo) a couple of times (2 or 3) for hiting and kicking immediately after being asked not to. However, my timeouts are more like 2-5 seconds. Just enough to get the point across that when she does that we don't like it and it isn't acceptable. Then afterwards I hold her and talk to her about what happened.

She appears to have "gotten it" but I am not crazy about doing it. It is my last straw.
I fiund the hard part to be hitting siblings. All in all Cassidy (2) is great with Caleb (4 mos). BUt he does get rough and likes any response. I try to just pick the babe up and say "we need to leave here for a minute" or something like that. With the dog it's easier and with other children it's easy to remove him. But with a babe in arms I am finding it hard to deal wiith. Its really not in anger, just experimenting. I think that time out from a difficult thing works, not necessarily a "TO", nothing timed or by himself, he would never stay by himself.
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