If you ask any of the children here if they ever get put in time out at daycare they will probably say yes. This bothers me because I really dislike the use of ‘time out’ as a form of guidance because as it is commonly used it really is simply a punishment – meant to hurt or reprimand without any chance of understanding the issue or learning from it.
For many, time out means ‘You’ve done something to anger/upset me/someone else so go to your room/seat/corner and think about what you’ve done’. Really? No child I know is ever going to benefit from this.
Some children may spend this time thinking – that they are bad/useless/terrible no one wants to be around them and they need to suffer. Many will spend this time festering in their anger – burying it away or redirecting it toward someone or something else. Some children have been through it so many times that it has become routine – they’ve rehearsed it and know exactly what to say/do to get parole. None of these children are learning anything beneficial.
Here, time out is really time with me. Maybe the child just needed a little time get away from the situation to cool down so we sit and I ask questions and listen. Maybe the child is out of control – having a fit/meltdown – fine come to this safe area I’ll be here if you need me. You can scream, cry and stomp if it makes you feel better but you can’t hurt anyone else. When you’re ready you can talk to me and I will listen. Whatever the reason that the child is away from the group they are not alone. I am nearby – calm and available. There are no lectures, no threats, and no judgements.
So, I started writing this entry with the intention of saying I don’t use time out. I wanted to find a better name for it. ‘Time In’? ‘Reflecting time’? Nothing I could come up with was going to work easily. Saying ‘Time Out’ has become a habit for me and the children. Then, I had a revelation – I’m not a sports fan but I know they use the term ‘time-out’ in many sports so I looked up their definition…
In sports, a time-out refers to a break in the match for a short amount of time to allow the coach to communicate with the team, determine strategy or inspire morale.
Hmmmm, maybe I do use time-out.