Help Your Child Process His Emotions and Behavior to Get the Best Use of Timeout
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
Too often a child is punished by being sent to Time Out with angry yelling, ‘Go to your room!’ The parents are mad and the child is mad and no one learns anything. The child then sulks and feels resentful instead of learning how he could act better next time. Positive discussion after Time Out empowers the child into feeling good about taking responsibility for his own behavior rather than hold a grudge.
Talking after leaving Time Out helps work things out between you and your child. It can also help bring his strong feelings down if you put a positive spin on it. Time outs can be used for teaching your child to be more in control of his behavior.
Help your child understand his behavior and angry feelings and learn better ways of acting in the future. This exercise is an adaptation of Time Out procedure we used in our school for children with severe emotional and behavior problems where I worked for seven years.
These questions give your child a framework for learning from the experience and teach the message that mistakes are made for learning. If your child is unwilling to go through these simple steps, send him back to Time Out. Cheerfully give him the message that he needs more time to think about what happened to get him in trouble.
What behavior caused you to go to time-out?
Clarify any vague answer given by the child. You had to go to time out because you hit your brother.’ Now tell me why did you have to go to time out?
Tell me about the uncomfortable feelings you were caught in.
The research shows that families who encourage children to talk about and then problem solved created a sense of mastery in children which carried over to good self esteem and doing well in school.
Was what you did a very good thing to do? Why not?
Help the child to make a judgment and process his feelings by giving him rationale and rules about what is expected of him. Then ask him to repeat the judgment back to you.
What could you do next time when you are upset?
Help your child problem solve and come up with several alternatives he could choose from instead of the acting out behavior.
What Helper Words can you use to keep your cool the next time?
Coach your child to say,’I cool myself off. I breathe and make good choices. I keep my cool. Etc.
See ‘Helper Words’ listed under my article I Stop My Bully Behavior.
How will you feel if you make a better choice the next time? Good. Great. Fantastic. Better about myself. Proud for using my head. Etc.
After your child processes his emotions and owns his misbehavior, really lay it on thick about how proud you are of him. Brag about how he can look at his part in a problem and come up with a better solution for next time. Use affirmation cues to reinforce his growing and learning:
I’m proud of you for taking responsibility for your behavior.
You can feel good about the problem solving and figure out how to do things differently next time.
Your can feel powerful inside for taking responsibility for what you did wrong.
Whatever from of correction method you chose, remember to leave your child feeling good about himself.
Children are subject to the self-fulfilling prophecy, which says they become as others view them. Remember the old saying, ‘What you think of me, I’ll think of me. What I think of me, I’ll become.’