Thursday, 29 September 2011

That's it....Time Out!

Why isn’t time out working?

There are several factors that could be contributing to why your time out procedure is ineffective as serving for a deterring consequence (punishment procedure).

To begin with, consider whether you are forgetting to account for the variables controlling the behaviour.  If your child wants to escape a situation and throws a tantrum, sending him or her to his room for time out is not  ideal if the goal is preventing future similar behaviour.  
Young Girl Point The Alarm
Assess whether you are fighting fire with fire so to speak. Put it this way, if you daughter is acting out for more attention, and you suddenly become much more of her (and can you blame yourself, really!?) she becomes wise to it and realizes that more times than not, acting out means more mommy/daddy time (time out isn’t so bad with mom or dad). Something they never taught you in parenting class is that an inconsistent pattern of responding will strengthen behaviour 9 times out of 10. Eek. That’s a lot of pressure; what it means is that you need to be consistent....realistic, and consistent. One major rule in my day to day routine is only make rules you are willing to enforce on a daily basis. Pick your battles, and know you can't win them all.

The reason I don’t love the idea of time out, is because it doesn’t teach the child what he or she is expected to do; there is a bit of a failure to address what kind of replacement or alternate behaviour the child can engage that serves the same function, whether the child wants attention, escape, or avoid or to get a specific item. 

I like the idea of a time to stop and think about your actions, but at least with my clients time out is a bit too abstract to be functional. I prefer to use behaviours as teachable moments for increasing coping skills; sensory breaks are must, but are conditional on good behaviour rather than questionable conduct. Of course, every situation is different.  

1 comment:

  1. I really like your point about teaching moments. One thing we use is to smile and touch when things are going well. We really say very little as words don't teach, approval does. Quiet times are given as breaks when the energy in the room has become high (before a time out would be an answer)always with something the child likes to do or a sensory band to play with with no expectations on what the child will actually do with that time. In this way I can honestly say "We don't give time outs here."