For some parents, time out works. But for others, it can be a complete disaster. Some parents may feel exasperated at talking to their child about time out and sending them to their rooms, only to have their child cry endlessly, fall asleep, or play with their toys. Or worse: it can turn into a waste of time or power struggle where a parent puts their child in time out, the child gets out of the time out area, parent puts the child back in, and it goes on and on; back and forth until someone gets exhausted.

Why time out doesn’t always work

For many toddlers, time out sends a message that their behavior is so overwhelming to their parent that they need to be shunned away for the moment. They may feel rejected, confused, or like their feelings are not taken into consideration, especially if they don’t have the ability to explain themselves, or if they’re not verbal yet. Some toddlers associate time out with being a “bad boy” or a “bad girl” and that can affect their self-esteem. This creates an emotional disconnect between parent and child.

“Time in”

“Time in,” however, is a different approach. The child is given the opportunity to choose to calm down by being near their caregiver or taking some privacy. This way, they can talk about their emotions with their caregiver and come up with alternative behaviors.

Why it works

This tool is effective because it helps the parent understand the child and his or her motivations, and, more importantly, helps encourage the child to come up with better choices.

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