Time Out vs. Time In: What’s the difference?

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What is the difference between a time out and time in? Is one better than the other?

Sometimes positive discipline tools can seem similar to the traditional discipline tactics. Often people say it’s just semantics.  What sets the positive tools apart from punitive discipline is not only the way in which they are presented to the child but also the intent (non punitive) and aim of the parents in using the tools.

Let’s look at the differences between time out and time in: 

The traditional time out is when a child is told  to go  somewhere (like a chair or facing a wall), alone for a determined number of minutes.  Often parents are told to withhold attention and ignore any cries or requests from the child when using a time out.

Although the time out tactic can potentially prevent a behavior from occurring in the moment it can also make children feel abandoned, rejected, frightened and confused.   Time outs are vastly popular and are  preferred to harsher traditional discipline tactics like spanking but it does not actually help children learn to regulate their emotions or help them learn moral values like right from wrong. Often, time outs lead to more power struggles.

Some clues that time out is not actually working:

*You feel the need to place your child in time out daily, sometimes hourly.

*When the child is in time out she repeatedly asks when she can get up.

*When the child is running away at the mention or threat of time out.

* You feel the need to place your child in time out  for every thing they are dong “wrong”.

*When you find yourself using time out for the same offense over and over again.

*You get angrier and angrier as you struggle to get your child to quiet down so you can start the timer.

There are many alternatives to Time Out and one of these alternatives is the Time IN: 

The Positive parenting tool called time IN or positive time out  is when a child that is having a difficult moment  is kindly invited to sit somewhere, near by a care giver  to express their feelings and eventually cool down.

During the time in,  parents are encouraged to empathize with the child’s feelings and often just quiet connection is all that is needed until the storm has passed. It doesn’t mean that you must let your child continue with a behavior that is inappropriate. The time in gives you the opportunity to really connect and then address whatever change needs to be made.

Some of the reasons Time IN or positive time out works:

*children are likely to feel that their needs are being considered

*there can be connection between parent and child before a correction is presented

*children are given time to properly process a range of feelings

*parents don’t feel out of control or create a power struggle to keep child in the time out.

*children don’t feel isolated, shamed or scared

*It gives parent and children an opportunity to talk about the real issue at hand

Here is an example of how Time In can work:

Recently at the swimming pool, one of the children I was looking after decided to do some diving in an area of the pool that was very shallow. After the first time I observed this asked kindly that the child find either  a new swim move to do in that section or choose a deeper section in which to dive.  Excited and  bounding with energy, the child worked on some new moves for a few minutes and then she proceeded to dive again in the shallow area.

The excitement of the pool and the urge to dive was making it really difficult for the child to follow the pool safety rules.  I told her calmly we would be stepping out of the pool together so we could chat.  I acknowledged she was having lots of fun and let her know she could return to the pool soon and extended a hand so we could walk together.

We sat at the edge of the pool for about a minute. First I asked if she was having fun and she told me about her favorite parts of the swimming pool. Then I asked if she knew why we were taking a little break. “Because I was diving in the small water”. I told her I cared about her and her health and that diving in the shallow water could really harm her. She asked if she could try again, this time where the water was right for diving.   We quickly talked about the water safety rules and she promised to follow them this time around.  We were able to enjoy the pool for the rest of the afternoon and there was no more diving in the shallow water.

Might the result have been the same if I had told the child to “Get out of the pool and sit on that chair for 5 minutes” – well maybe, but certainly nobody would feel very good about it.

It can certainly be difficult and even annoying to parent during times when children are being defiant, testing limits, pushing our buttons and being challenging.  Sure there are times when taking a break from each other will be advisable.   The aim of a time out though doesn’t have to be to create struggle, it can really be a time for everyone to cool off, regroup and reconnect.

Do you use time outs? time ins? a  mix of both?

 

 

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

38 thoughts on “Time Out vs. Time In: What’s the difference?

  1. I have never and will never use time outs. I’d even go so far as to say they make me angry! My children range from age 5 to 21 and the method I’ve always used and found to be very effective has been Time in, although that’s not what we call it. Taking the child, sitting him/her on my lap (not the 21 year old!) cuddling them and talking with them about it. Usually just having a physical connection with me is enough to change their behaviour. I found the more you put in when they’re under 3, the less you have to do as they get older. They just ‘get’ that they are cared about and respected and therefore don’t need to act out to get attention. My friends and family, on the otherhand, that do use time out, seem to need to use it more and more frequently and yet their children’s behaviour seems to get worse and worse!
    My theory has always been, love on a physical or emotional level is always what a child needs and it works for me.

    • Thanks Angie for sharing your experience, I think it’s great for families to hear about other families and their experience with positive approaches to parenting and how it has worked for them!

  2. We did not use time-out when our son was very little, but we do use it now–he’s 7. I can’t see time-in as a feasible replacement because we are disciplining him for doing one or more of these things:
    a) persistently interfering with something that really needs to get done now
    b) repeatedly interrupting adult conversation by talking loudly about an unrelated subject and then shrieking, “YOU’RE INTERRUPTING!!!” if anyone attempts to resume speaking
    c) being rude and disrespectful to an extent that really hurts parental feelings.
    When he is behaving like this, we cannot get him to cooperate with a conversation like yours at the pool; he will change the subject, act silly, insult us, and/or pull away to resume the misbehavior or any other aggravating thing he can find to do. At other times he is quite a pleasant, articulate child, but he gets into these strange moods and seems to need a “reset” that can be obtained only from time-out, so far as we’ve discovered.

    He often resists going to time-out, so we use the policy that the time doesn’t begin until he’s there and we’ll add 5 minutes every time he protests or comes out. I DON’T LIKE DOING THIS because it feels so negative, but once he finally cooperates he does come out humbled and ready to try again at behaving reasonably.

    We’ve had some success with preventing these bad spells by taking care to give him a chance to talk and show him that his ideas are heard; being careful that he gets enough food, water, and rest; and anticipating that he’s likely to spin out of control as a special event comes to an end. But once the awful behavior starts, it seems the only way to stop it is a hard consequence, either time-out or taking away TV time or (when relevant) the object he is misusing.

    We feel that we as parents need the time-out too because we feel so angry about his behavior that we are not ready to speak calmly and pleasantly with him for a while.

    If you have any suggestions for more positive tactics with a 7-year-old, I’d love to hear them! I read the alternatives you linked, but those are for toddlers.

  3. Becca – I hear you. 7 is a challenging age. All three instances that you describe sound like misguided efforts to get your attention. A few positive discipline tools for dealing with that are – like you already do, time to cool off, sounds just like time out but over time the intent would be that you can ask “would cooling off on your own be helpful for you right now?” – another way is to be proactive, with the things that must be done, make sure he is aware, give him a bit of a time line (not that you have to justify everything, more so that he is aware, “i will be busy for the next half hour” Trust him to figure something out to do in that time or if needed you can add “what is YOUR plan for the next half hour” and another tool is involvement. seeing whatever part of your task your son may want to help with. this inspired me to write up a post on the undue attention and alternatives for the older children so I will post it as soon as I get a chance!
    thank you for sharing your experience!

    • I agree that postive feed back, love, and attention are good tools in helping a child overcome some of these behaviors. But as Becca said,
      “When he is behaving like this, we cannot get him to cooperate with a conversation like yours at the pool; he will change the subject, act silly, insult us, and/or pull away to resume the misbehavior or any other aggravating thing he can find to do”

      • Sorry I didnt finish.

        At this point the child has shut off to any type of realistic conversation. The more she trys the more he acts out. The one thing that can work is to use distraction and take his mind off the current behavior. For instance, asking him to go help you with a task he may enjoy. This is not a reward for bad behavior but a way to snap him out of it long enough to where you can actually have that talk. I have seen this work countless times…. A “hey Zac lets go for a walk” or a “hey Joe are you hungry/thirsty” anything simple to take his mind off of it. Then once he has calmed revisit. However, some children will even refuse this and something else has to be done. If the child continues the negative behavior something has to be done. I find something called DBT works very well. It was developed as a tool for borderline personality disorder, however, the basic premis works well with children of all ages and problems. The idea is to ignore the negative and praise the postive. During a negative spell you ignore the negative behavior the child is having and give short direct statements and follow through on them. For instance, if your child is constantly interupting and insulting you ask them in a normal tone to stop (Don’t raise your voice but change your tone). If they do not comply then ask them to come with you and remove them from their audience. If that does not work then tell them the consequence and follow through on it. If and then statements at this point. If you do not stop….. then…..! If the behavior continues place the child in a time out and yes starting the time when they are following instructions is key. The next step is key and THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE THING…….. many people do not do. Once the time out is over the child is typically receptive and willing to talk as you said he was Becca. And as you say Ariadne time outs can make a child feel neglected and left out or abandoned and you are also correct. This is the point were a debriefing needs to occur. This is key in trying to change the behavior and if this is not done yes the behavior will continue and even worsen as the child is confused as to what the point of the whole thing was. Sit the child down and ask them why they were behaving in this mannor. You explain to them what you observed and why you placed them in time out ( Kids are smart they will understand). And yes hug them and tell them that you love them. This is a time for bonding and coming to an understanding as to why they were placed in time out. Finally, ask the child what he or she could have done differently letting them reflect on their actions. If they have trouble offer suggestions. Then praise the heck out of them for following instructions, calming down, and for talking with you. This is another big point. Praise all that good they just did. I am a nurse and have worked with problamtic children for 4 years now. Many with OOD, Mood D/O, ADHD, and so on. These are not typical children and yes the TIME IN will work on most. However, Becca your son does not seem like a typical child and if you are truly giving him plenty of attention then his acting out is something more then a cry for attention and that has to be addressed. Because I have seen it get to the point were a child is truly unmanageable no matter what method of correction or amount of attention you give a child.

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  5. Time-outs can be so tempting but, like you, I’ve found that time-ins are often so much more useful. We are most likely to have fighting (for attention) when my husband and I are trying to talk with each other. When we’re all around we’ll often use the ‘family time in’ and sit down together. One or the other of my children usually resists but it’s a little like a sit-down strike. My husband and I just sit down and wait for our children to join us. We’re not going anywhere else until they do. And, hey, if they do run off and leave us totally alone? That’s probably what we wanted in the first place anyway.

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  8. I am from mexico, i’ve recently discovered positive parenting, I bought your book, im trying to change, I was the kind of mother who says …. do as I say because I am in charge, because I say so, because I am your mother and the more I pushed them the worst the result, I ended up yealling, punishing, threatening, and spanking, I was trying to break up their will… in only 3 weeks that i’ve been “practicing” PP … well kind of … I am still working on me a lot, I can see its really working, even teachers in school can see a change specially in my son JP 6, sometimes I receive answers I’d never heard before like, “ok mom”, “yes mom”, I have anothe boy LM 9 and a girl MJ of 3, everything is flowing better now, I’ve talked about your book and your blog to all my friends.
    But there is a time of the day when I dont know what to do or how to approach to my middle son JP of 6 years a very stong-willing boy because I know he is kind of challenging me, and the worst thing is that my little girl is starting to do the same and that time is mealtime, in Mexico we have “lunch” with the family at 2:00 pm when they come back from school and that is his worst time for JP and even when I try to prevent the explosion cooking his favorite meal, start a conversation about the school, how was their day and give him a little bit more of the attention I feel he is trying to get, he “sits” on the table and starts saying silly things or calling names to his brother LM 9 (with the one I’ve always had a hard time “making” him to eat and my attention “was” always on him because he eats just a few things and in a very little portion, he is very thin, etc.etc. I think I finally broke that circle with him, taking the attention “from the food” to the kids) but I think that could be the reason his brother JP who eats everything that gets to his hands since a baby is trying to get my attention but I don’t know what else to say or do to prevent those things to happen because he starts sitting with his feet on the table, eats with his hands, I’ve tried asking him to behave or leave upstairs, tried to make mealtime fun, I’ve tried ignoring the bad behavior and focusing on the conversation, what has worked because he finishes and ask for permission to leave, the mayor problem that I see is that he is not getting the message that i am trying to send that he is as important as his brother not only during mealtime, and his little sister follows him a lot so now she is standing up and fooling around during lunch just like his brother, sometimes they end up playing running around the table !!!! And I can’t ignore, and LM is looking at me like saying “are you going to do something mom ??” So I have to continuously ask JP and MJ to sit down, stop eating like that because that behavior is not permitted on the table, And when I say we don’t talk to eachother like that or we don’t eat like that in this family he answers “yes we do” and continues with the behavior, so I always end up losing it and sitting MJ 3 on her chair who ends up in tears, and that has been the hardest time for me. Sometimes when his father gets on time to eat with us things flow easier because JP is deeply conected with him, and even when I feel I am connecting better with him now, he comes to my arms to receive a hug and a kiss, he is finishing homework on time, his answering back less, he is WANTING to cooperate a little more, he is not DEAF MOM anymore, but at this time of the day I don’t know what to do !!!!!!! Please help meeeee !!!

    • hi erika that’s great that they’re responding so well in just 3 weeks! it’s a big step just to realize you need to change something & think how well they could be doing in 3 months, or even 3 years! just stick with it & try to be positive about it. it does sound stressful but if he’s a headstrong 6 yr old it’s going to take more than 3 wks of positive parenting to.. for lack of a better word.. ”erase” the 6 years of negative parenting. i know it’s hard to change a parenting style esp at at those ages because i’m sure the kids are a little confused about why mommy is being this way lately & i’m sure they’re testing you because of it. it’s likely because it’s so different & a good change..so they need to be confident you are going to KEEP up with the PP & not revert back to the negative. they need to feel secure in the positive attention so he could be testing how far he can push to see if you really do stick to the new PP style or get frustrated go back to yelling, spanking etc.. so try to avoid that at all costs.
      also i’m guessing that’s the worst time bc when kids have to come home from school to eat they must be very tired. it’s draining to go to school & even more so to have to go back once you’ve been home for a while so i would try to gather your inner strength & patience for that time. plus maybe you could ask to talk to your 6 yr old alone before the meal & say i love you, i see you’ve been trying better to be good & i have too so we’re in this together & then ask him how he feels or why that time is stressful etc maybe he will tell you. maybe do this everyday & just ask how he is & give him a hug. maybe you could take each of the kids on a special outing with you alone (not based on good behavior just so they can have your attention individually). & then as separate thing offer to give little rewards for good behavior.. instead of consequences for negative behavior. i think you’re right that they all just want more positive attention so just try to give it as much as you can :)

      • I like that idea Cella the before meal talk. One thing I think may be helpful is ask him if he wants to help you prepare the food. It gives him some one on one time with you. Granted he is six and can not do much but when you ask a child to be your little helper it gives them a since of belonging. For instance, meal time with 12 children all with behavior issues can be very very hard at times and typically we always have one or two that act up regardless of what is done. I find saying something like Mr. Frank is really busy and we have a lot to do can you help me do “XYZ” I could really use the help it would mean a lot. This makes the child feel special. Now of coursee you may have to let the other two help but you asked him first and you let them do small tasks like set the table or get the butter out of the fridge. It may seem small but it really does work. When I learned this trick I went from having fights in our lunch room to having a pieceful meal as those who pick at the other kids are busy and even when the tasks are over they still are gleaming from being able to help you. Again, I am a nurse for a 12-24 bed in patient psych unit for children 4-12. It seems like a cry for attention to me as you said he may see you giving his brother more attention to get him to eat.

  9. We used time out with my daughter and it was a positive thing for us. She is very much an introvert. When she is stressed or overwhelmed she needs a break from people. It was a time for her to refocus. It was never done in a negative way, we just told her she needed to stop and sit quietly. This reduced her stress/ anxiety level which was what was behind the bad behavior to begin with. I’m sure time in is great for a lot of kids, but all kids are different and for introverts I believe it could add more stress.

    • Meghan, thank you for sharing your experience with using time outs as a way to pause and cool off. Interestingly enough, my introverted child is the one that benefits the most from time in here. I think our different children are a really good example of how each family or parent-child pair benefits from trying out and figuring out what works best for them since we are all so unique. I appreciate you sharing what works for you and for stopping by! Wishing you well.

  10. A better approach of this article would be the application of WHEN to use time out and when you could try this bells & whistle Time IN. Like Becca stated (kudos to you!) it is absolutely appropriate to instruct a child to be alone when they are behaving in an inappropriate way. I do not believe that I should make my child feel good about themselves WHEN I’m disciplining them. Being alone or Time Out is supposed to make the child feel bad and thereby encouraging them to want to correct their behavior so they can rejoin the group/activity. The conversation comes after the time out – when their behavior is appropriate and you reward them by releasing them. NOTE: The swimmer girl was already told her actions were wrong & unsafe – it wasn’t like she didn’t know – she even admitted it! But yay, let’s sit and chat about it and then not get any punishment for disobeying and just go play more! Seriously?

    • Yes seriously Moma that disagrees! The reason being is that children do better when they feel better and encouraged. The higher the level of connection a child feels to their caregiver the more likely they are to cooperate with a request. Positive Parenting is based on the knowledge that children do not need to be punished in order to change their behavior, in fact quite the opposite, when children are given time to reflect, correct their own mistakes and feel positive regard from their caregiver or parent they are more able to follow directions and remember what is appropriate behavior, no need to make anyone feel bad. Research in child development and child psychology shows us over and over again that children learn best from positive interactions, not negative ones. Thank you for adding your experience and opening the door for this important discussion.

      • I am caregiver to a child with some definite behavioral problems. He really struggles with cause and effect, especially how it relates to consequences for one’s actions. I’m all for positive reinforcement and give this little guy as much positive attention and reinforcement as I can, but this just doesn’t make sense to me. I believe that if you hit your playmate you need to be taught that is not appropriate, and I just don’t see how rewarding misbehavior teaches a child, or anyone else, anything. I really understand where Momwhodisagrees is coming from. That little swimmer could have been seriously hurt, and she already knew the behavior was unacceptable. Was she told that if she didn’t stop she would have to leave the pool? How did giving her attention for being disobedient teach her that she needed to obey? If the goal of her behavior was to get attention from the author, then she succeeded and the behavior was re-inforced. She will do the exact same thing next time they are at the pool. I’m willing to try something new, however, this one is a real mind bender. Can you please explain how rewarding a child for negative behavior teaches them appropriate behavior?

        • Hi curious and confused,
          the approach with time-in is not about positive reinforcement or consequences. The aim of this parenting tool is to understand the child, their motivations and to encourage them to make better choices. This approach takes the idea that children are capable of learning when they are trusted to do so. Taking a few minutes to let the child know that what they are doing is unsafe and talking about alternatives gives the child a chance to think and make an internally motivated choice “I choose now to swim differently so I can enjoy my swimming time”. This leads to internal and intrinsic motivation and self discipline, skills children will need for a life time. You ask about attention for disobedience, again the goal is not obedience in positive parenting but about making good decisions. There are no rewards or punishments being used as leverage or to control, instead we use communication, modeling, trust, encouragement, responsibility and guidance. Not every parenting/discipline tool works for every parent/caregiver or child, that is why I share so many different ones so each family/caregiver can be inspired to make a choice that works for them.

          • I am wondering, in the swimming situation as an example, if you had done your time in, and as soon as you had your attention on someone else, your little person was again diving in the shallow end, what would your next step have been? She had been told twice that it was not a safe choice to make. Would you repeat the time in at that point? How often would you repeat the time in for what was very unsafe behaviour? I understand about second chances, but I guess I am asking how many chances you give a child to seriously injure themselves?

          • I do not think you realize that everything in behavior is about consequences and reinforcement. If you determine the motivation and consequences sought by your child with objective data, you can then determine that a child may be hitting for attention (thus use a timeout) or may be pushing because they do not understand the rules (time in may be appropriate). If you have a five year old on the spectrum who is swearing for attention and instead of ignoring it, you use time in, you are going to increase the amount of swearing, probably through the duration of the time in.

  11. Hi Wondering,
    If this child continued to have a hard time (which she did not as the story said, she was fine after that time in) I would have likely tried to find a way to set her up for success, for example asking her to show me some of the moves she could safely do in the water, giving her some water toys like floating balls to swim after for example. Another option, seeing as I was looking after only 4 children would have been to invite everyone to get onto a big float and take a ride around the pool to change locations without interfering with everyone fun in the water. Time in is just one of many tools that are a possibility for dealing with situations like this. If a child is doing something that is unsafe I would absolutely kindly AND firmly let them know I will keep them safe. “What you are doing is NOT safe. I care about you AND I cannot let you continue to do that.” In a pool situation that may mean being asked to swim close to me, siting next to me for awhile or choosing to sit on their towel with a book or snack for a bit until they are calm and ready to re-join the group. Again every situation is unique so I would choose accordingly.

    • But is that not a form of time out “sitting on your towell”. I have an example…. We have monkey bars on our play ground. We had an 8 year old who loved to clib on top of them. We asked the child multiple times to not get up there and would have a time in with the child telling him how unsafe it was and that not a year ago a child broke his arm doing the exact same activity (which was true). But he refused to follow instructions. We gave the child two chance then reuested he play on another part of the jungle gym or to come play football with me. He chose football with me. All went well for a bit then as I was going to get the ball after I missed a catch He got up on top of the monkey bars again while I had my back turned. So I had done the time in and explained how dangerous it was, asked him a second time, then gave him other options for play and he continued the negative behavior. At this point we had to ask him to sit out of play time as he continued to be a danger to him self and would not follow instructions. I like the idea of positive parenting and I agree with most of it but at what point do you say OK you are not being safe we have to stop this. CHILDREN are very smart and if everytime they have a continue to have a negative behavior you give them a snack or change the type of play like you say the big float or change of location in your example how does it teach the child. Its a type of distraction but what happens when you are caring for the other 3 children and you have your head turned for that split second and the girl dives in again after all of that. At what point is it time to do something like asking her to sit out for a bit. Because my thing is if she is or my little guy is engaged in an unsafe behavior and you tell them in a time in (which is like a loving explination to me) and another prompt and they do it again and get hurt me as a nurse I am liable as I did nothing to stop it. Any parent would be outraged that I continued to allow the bahavior and all I did was talk or distract. Mind you I am not trying to argue with you or anything. I work with children on an everyday basis with many bahavior problems and I am just trying to understand this form of care as it is my duty to continue my education and give my children the best possible care.

      • Frank, thank you for asking this question. This is where I have my issues with the time-in. The child in my care is the one who is going to push and push and push until he, or some one else, gets hurt and then he’s likely to continue pushing. His therapist said to keep using the time-outs as he finally seems to be grasping the concept of ‘if you’re not being safe you don’t get to play’. At this point with him it seems if I do not utilize time-outs I would be negligent, as no amount of verbal communication will curb his behavior, no matter how loving and sincere I am. At some point you have to recognize that hitting Susie has consequences and that “come sit with me and have my undivided attention” is not a consequence. Overall I think time-in is a great tool, but it’s definitely not going to work with every child in every situation, especially is the main goal of the bad behavior is simply to get your attention.

        • I agree completely that time in is a great tool and it is just one of many tools that can be used to approach things in a positive manner. When aggression is a recurring problem it is really helpful to look at the situation and try to understand the motivation behind the behavior. Children become aggressive when they have needs that are not being met – these can be physical needs or emotional needs, each child has their own unique situation of course. Positive Discipline series has the Mistaken beliefs chart that can be a very helpful tool in understanding children’s behaviors and choices particularly behaviors that are creative a spiral of looking for attention in negative ways. Consequences are often just a stopping tool but not necessarily a teaching tool – children learn best to regulate their emotions and make better choices by learning about how that can be done – this learning often happens not in the heat of the moment but when things are going well – emotional/social games, stories, conversations can provide that.

      • The difference between the monkey bars example and the swimming pool one is that the child didn’t make their own plan for success.

  12. About 10-12 years ago, at a family gathering I used the time in method on one of my cousins and didn’t even realize it. All the kids were playing in another room as the adults were playing cards or socializing. I happened to be sitting closest towhere the kids were playing when we herd all the kids cause commotion telling my cousin to stop what she was doing. Her mom was playing cards so I volunteered to handle things. I got my cousin and sat her on my lap at the table with the adults. She was mad and crossed her arms. I told her she had the choice to sit here for 5 or 10 minutes. Without a thought or question she said “I choose 10″ and I replied with “10 in is”. A few minutes in she asked if her time was up and I said no, it is just starting. Halway through she asked how long 19 minutes was. I held up onr hand and explained this was 5, then held up other hand beside it and said this is 10. She immediately said she wanted to change her mind and I explained it was too late and she made her choice and has to sit here the full 10 minutes. When her time was almost up I talked to her about what she did wrong and how she should have acted instead. Needless to say, she was the best behaved
    Child, for the rest of the day. Her mom also started using my discipline tool, by using different combinations of number choices, until her daughter learned how to count. At that point of time I was maybe 20 years old with no kids of my own and came up with this idea on a whim, and it worked.

  13. Hi,
    I would say it’s not the “time out” that is a problem, but the way it is used. I would never force my child to go somewhere for a certain time, but there were moments, when I suggested, she COULD go in a different room if that would make her feel better. The “time in” as you describe it I used a hundred times without knowing that it had a name.
    When she is disappointed and crying out loud, I am normally giving her a “time in”. But a few times I was stressed out, so I could not be friendly enough, I told her, she could choose to cool down or to cry elsewhere, where I would not hear it that loud. I find it interesting that she chose differently the few times she could.

    Thanks for the nice article! Monika

    • Hi Monika, yes, I agree with you there are ways to make a time out totally positive by giving the child a choice to find a place to cool off or calm down. Thanks for sharing your story and how you use time in and taking the time to stop by!

  14. Hello, how would you recommend usage of time-in or time out in a developmentally disabled child? I do not have kids of my own but I work with parents who do. One of these children is age 11 but her development is of that of a 7-8 year old. Her mom has tried something similar to time-in by approaching her and comforting her but she refuses to give in and kicks and screams when something doesn’t go her way. She has gone as far as to kicking and pulling her own mom and hitting and throwing a shoe at me. I am trying to do what’s best for her and the mother. thank you!

    • Hi Ana, in general there is no way to reason, explain or talk to a child that is so upset they are hitting, it’s typically best for emotions to cool off first. It’s very important for any child to learn about calming down and managing their anger outside of such episodes so they can have those tools when things get out of hand. Time in and time out work when children are ready to work together with the parent. If things have gotten heated or there is a struggle involved than instead of a time in something like a positive time out to cool off or a calm down ritual would be more beneficial. At age 11 (and as young as 7) it is alright to let the child know they will need to calm down before any activities resume. The child might want to wait in her room, sit somewhere alone or maybe next to a parent but either way it’s ok to explain that first everyone needs to cool off and that hurting will not be accepted. I would turn to a developmental specialist for a personalized intervention as every family has unique dynamics and also talk to the child when she is calm to set up a strategy she can practice so when her emotions run high she has some self-regulation tools to turn to. best wishes to you.

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