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Ch. 4: Time-in vs Time-out

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  • Ch. 4: Time-in vs Time-out


    Pg 174: "But the fact that time-outs are better than spanking doesn't mean they're optimal discipline. You don't seriously think he's sitting on the naughty step considering how to be a better kid, do you? Like any normal human, he's feeling ashamed and angry and reviewing why he was right. Time-outs don't actually work to create better behavior. Here's why: (condensed)


    - Children need our help to learn to calm themselves.
    - Time-outs make children feel bad about themselves.
    - Time-outs create a power struggle.
    - Your breaking your child's trust in you by triggering his fear of abandonment.
    - Because you have to harden your heart to your child's distress during time-out, time-outs erode your empathy for your child.


    ... If you're using time-outs to deal with your child's outbursts and meltdowns, your answer is time-in. With time-in, we see our child's "bad" behavior as a cry for our help. We step in to reconnect and help our child with the emotion or need that's driving his behavior.


    When you realize your child is approaching that dangerous overwrought place, suggest that the two of you take a time-in. Grab your cranky, belligerent little one and find yourselves a cozy corner. Snuggle up. Make it a game and laugh if you can. But if your child continues to act out those miserable feelings that are upsetting him, recognize that the most healing thing you can offer him at that moment is a chance to cry and get those feelings off his chest. Set whatever limits are necessary as compassionately as you can: "I won't let you throw that cup, sweetie." When he bursts into tears, welcome them and stay close. You'll find that your child is very different after a good cry.


    Are you wondering if that's rewarding "bad behavior" with attention? No more than you're rewarding hungry crankiness with food if you fee your hungry child. Kids need connection with us to get through their day, especially at difficult times... Of course, if she's demanding a treat or to climb onto something dangerous, you hold firm to your limit; you don't "reward" a child's off-track behavior by giving in to something you've already said no to. But your attention isn't a reward, it's a lifeline."


    I really love how she put that the attention is a lifeline. I truly felt this to be accurate with my daughter. When she would have intense emotions or was doing something I was trying to correct and we did time-in it felt so right. I was able to be her stability while she was rocking in her world. At first it was hard for me to do this when she was a toddler because my instinct was to want to make her stop her crying and tantrumming. I imagine if I would have used time-out all of that would have lasted longer.


    Now at age 9.5, when she is feeling overwrought with emotion she asks for a hug and holds on for dear life or we sit together in the rocking chair as she lays her head on my chest. I attribute this type of connection during those difficult times to time-in. I also found time-in to start to become a calming factor for me as well.
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