2 Reasons Why Time-Outs Don’t Work

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2 Reasons Why Time-Outs Don’t Work
Failed time-outs can be a huge source of stress for parents and is typically a recipe for even more.

Think of any privilege we withdraw: screen time, or phone time, or friend time, or a host of other things we know our children value. The child feels it as a loss of options and as being out of the loop, whether it’s for 10 minutes or 10 days. The very same is true for consequences that add on chores or assignments or tasks. The child feels as if he or she is out of the loop for however long the tasks take.

As a culture, we are married to time-outs, and so many parents of children who are challenging come to feel that time-outs can be almost unworthy of the effort. My point is that if we are truly invested in time-outs, as I believe we are, then we might as well have a form of time-out that is inherently powerful and that propels us in the direction we really seek.

The Reset

In the Nurtured Heart Approach, we call these consequences a “reset.” Success comes with a catch, however. It is imperative that the time-in is strong and established enough to be consistent and robustly appreciative, then even a very short “reset” can be wonderfully powerful and inspiring, even to the most challenging children.

The key is two-fold: 1. Short reset 2. Rich time-in.

What Constitutes Rich Time-In?

First of all, we must identify “juicy time-in” as any time when our children are in touch with their greatness – when their actions are connected with their own success. For example, when they are practicing the piano beautifully and they feel it, but also the just-plain-ordinary moments, or even more so, the challenging moments when they aren’t experiencing their success, e.g. they are practicing the piano and are outwardly frustrated as they struggle to read the notes. These moments are where we can help articulate a growing sense of success. We, as the adults, get to contribute the reserved energy that is intertwined with our love and out desire to be good guides. We recognize what is going right, rather then lecturing on what is wrong.

For example: “Liz, I want you to know how much I appreciated how you are handling your frustration with this difficult piece of music. You could have stormed off, but you seem to keep choosing to keep pushing through and working in such a determined way. I want to honor you for your great determination.”

I believe we seek to see our children use their intensity and life-force in great ways. Helping them challenge strong emotions into occasions for success awakens them to who they really are – kids with great life-force and great ability to channel their life-force into success. Through repeated exposure to their greatness, they begin to build inner wealth. This then becomes a self-regulating guide, which navigates them into a pattern of self-generated successes.

Resets and Inner Wealth

There are moments where behavior calls for a reset. If your child is swearing and kicking, a moment of pause is certainly required. Resets are not the weapon of a punitive model. They are an ideal opportunity to create inner wealth. In the moments that follow the bad attitude or the name-calling or the arguing that netted the need for a reset, we can then tell the truth of the next NOW.

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