This post is a double hitter. Most people would think that sending a kid to “Time Out” would be the same as sending them to “Calm Down”. It’s not. I’ll explain, but first…
Story Time: I once had a parent tell me that timeout didn’t work for their kids. I explained that that’s my preferred method and that it’s a real-life example of consequences as the kids become adults. Yes, adults get timeouts too — it’s just called jail or prison. Kids get to the point of doing whatever necessary to avoid timeout. Once I showed the parents how to do timeout — *surprise* it worked.
My rules for timeout are hard and fast:
1. Any offenses such as hitting or intentional hurting are grounds for an immediate timeout – zero exceptions. Everything else is given a warning prior, whether it’s a verbal “This is your warning” or counting down from 5. NEVER COUNT UP. Getting to 1 means go. End of story.
2. The timeout is done in one place (usually room) and a timer on my phone is set in minutes based on their age i.e. 2 years – 2 minutes etc.
3. When the timer goes off I talk to the child about what they did, why it was wrong, and what we should do moving forward.
4. The child is allowed to leave the timeout space after they’ve “gathered” themselves.
5. I never “threaten” time out. I don’t do second chances. It is what it is. Grow a backbone.
So…. what’s “Calm Down” time you ask? When a child has emotions that are FAR too big for their body or their senses are far too frazzled — they go somewhere to calm down. It’s usually their room.
My Calm Down Rules:
1. Go to your room.
2. Calm down and readjust.
3. Come back when you’re better.
Calm Down is great for kids that become overstimulated easily, or have sensory issues. It’s not a punishment. It’s giving a kid time to get themselves together without judgment. My kids are always welcome to ask questions or say what’s going on after. Big emotions, little bodies…