In this article, I will explain what a time in is vs a time out and how to start incorporating them into your life TODAY.
So you’ve tried the traditional time out and it hasn’t worked.. but what else is there!?
I’m here to tell you one alternative that anyone can start TODAY! First, let’s get to the heart of the issue: what are time outs trying to accomplish? At their best they are intended to have children reflect on their behaviour and change it but at their worst they are isolating punishments that result in no change in behaviour. Instead of using a time out chair or sending a child to their room for a determined amount of minutes, why not try a TIME IN space instead?
The number one thing to know about time in is that it is all about connection with a caregiver by building connections through tantrums, caregivers can model empathy, emotional regulation, and emotional intelligence (all things children need to grow into caring adults!)
Here are 5 steps to ditch the time outs and start connecting with your little one with a time in:
- Pick a designated space – this does not need to be something new. it can be the couch, the child’s favourite reading corner, or on a soft rug in the living room. Picking the space is more about creating a routine and safe feeling space for future time ins.
- Pick some strategic items to have on hand for time ins – a sensory bottle, a favorite stuffed animal, a fidget, stress ball, books, etc. you know your child best so think about what they like to do when they are upset! These do not need to be purchased! Go around the house and find long forgotten toys and items and be creative! limit the options to 5-7 items.
- Introduce the calm space and idea of a time in when it is NOT needed in that moment – pick a moment where your child is calm and receptive. Explain that when they have big feelings a space is available for them to feel those feelings and that you, the caregiver, will be sitting with them to help them. Introduce the items and let them play and explore the items.
- So your child is losing their sh*t.. time for your first time in!
Here is some language to practice and use to help make a smooth transition:
○ “I see your body feels really mad. Let’s go to the calm spot together.”
○ “Let’s take deep breaths together to help your body be calm.”
○ Once they are ready- “next time instead of throwing your magnets when they fall, let’s rebuild together!”
The hard part about a time in is that there is no specific time frame. With a time out you might set a 3 minute timer and it’s over but with a time in a child might need 15 minutes to sit with you and be calm. If you feel your child might be ready to leave the calm space prompt them with “how does your body feel? Do you feel ready to go back to playing?” be ready to have patience when beginning to implement the time in strategy!