“Where did we get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, we have to make them feel worse?” Dr. Jane Nelsen
How would you respond if your boss or a colleague reprimanded you by saying, “Go to your room and think about what you just did!”? Most of us would laugh and say, “I don’t think so!” Then why do we think negative time out is effective for children when it wouldn’t be effective for us?
Negative time out is based on the thought that in order to get children to do better, first we have to make them feel worse. Positive Time Out is based on the understanding that in order to get children to do better, first we have to make them feel better. Check out these premises for yourself. Do you do better when you feel worse, or when you feel better?
When human beings are upset, they function from the part of the brain where the only options are fight or flight. When parents send their children to time-out (as a punishment) they are most often operating from that part of the brain. The child is likely operating in the “fight or flight” mode as well and thus the vicious cycle of “fight or flight” perpetuates.
Positive Time Out allows children to calm down until they are again functioning from their rational brain so they can problem-solve and learn. It teaches children to understand that their brains don’t function well when they are upset and that taking time out to calm down is advantageous to them, rather than detrimental. Positive time out encourages children to form positive beliefs about themselves, their world, and their behaviour. In this state of mind, they can learn from their mistakes and/or problem solve on how to make amends for any hurt or damage their behaviour might have caused.
A sports analogy often helps adults and school age children understand the benefits of Positive Time Out. The purpose of “time out” in sports is to stop the clock, catch your breath, regroup, take a look at what isn’t working, and come up with a new plan. Positive Time Out can do the same for both children and adults in the home. It can stop the clock on negative behaviour and allow time for calming down so that new behaviour is possible. Since children do better when they feel better, they will be able to regroup and come up with a new plan that will serve them and others.
Read more on Positive Time Out:”Creating a Positive Time Out area with your child”