Time Out

Is there such a thing as a useful, even pleasant, timeout?

Sometimes it’s just a good idea to get out of the action. Can a timeout be used not as punishment, but rather as a way for everyone to get a breather? Kind of like a player taking some time out of the game to sit on the bench. What would that kind of timeout look like?

In our family, we’ve started putting everyone on timeout. We’ve developed a ‘no whining, no mean words, no yelling’ policy. It’s fine to have big feelings and it’s fine to express them. It’s not ok to yell at someone else and try to make them feel bad. It’s ok to want something really really badly. It’s not ok to whine about it.  And to give these new rules some teeth, we’ve implemented the family timeout. Whomever is involved, even peripherally, in the whining, yelling or meanness gets put on timeout. 15 minutes. No negotiations. I set the timer on the kitchen stove or my alarm on my phone. That means mom and dad too.

I’m finding that timeouts are now something I look forward to doing. This helps my kids be on better behavior because they know I’d like a reason to sit on the couch and read my book. No cleaning. No cooking. No being on the computer. Sit. Meditate. Read. Nap. A true timeout.

What does this kind of timeout look like for the kids? They go into separate rooms. Usually one of them goes into the room they share and the other goes into the parents’ bedroom. I help the one who’s not in the kids room get whatever toys they would like. Quickly. Usually my intention is just to get us all a break from each other. To let the energy settle down. To rememb