How to avoid a time out… (and where hugs fit into it all)

Time outs are often used as a means to ‘discipline’ a child.  It is seen as a way to teach a child not to keep going with a behaviour, by secluding them.  It is often used as a last resort by parents and is obviously more favourable than a smack.  Mostly, time outs are used by parents as this is what their parents used with them.  Without consciously making change, most parents continue to use the beliefs and disciplinary style that were modelled by their parents.

Time outs are not the only way to deal with misbehaviour.  There are actually two ways to treat your child:

  1. Use a disciplinary action such as smacking or time outs, which eventually gets your child to comply out of ‘fear’.
  2. Teach your child in a loving and understanding way where they went wrong and how to behave in a better way next time, promoting your child to respect you and to try to ‘do the right thing’.

By using the second approach, you will find less resistance, more positive change for the long term and a better relationship with your child.  It is not your job as a parent to ‘come down’ on your child when they are misbehaving, but rather to teach them how to behave appropriately, with love and understanding.

This is basically the same way you can treat teenagers.  The more you ‘come down’ on them, they more likely they are to rebel.  The more you get them to understand why you are asking them to do something or pulling them up on inappropriate behaviours, the more they will respect you and comply.

The trouble with ‘time out’:

  • Children just want to be loved by their parents.  Being secluded by their own parents stresses a child’s body physically and emotionally and temporarily removes that love.  A child then does not feel loved unconditionally.
  • There is always a reason for a child to misbehave.  Time outs do not encourage parents to look at why the child was misbehaving in the first place. They simply see their child as having acted ‘naughty’.
  • The child knows they have done the wrong thing by being secluded in a time out but may not understand exactly what they have done wrong, or how to change this behaviour for next time.
  • If the parent has not used age-appropriate language (roughly 2-3 word phrases for 2 year olds, 3-4 word phrases for 3 year olds and ensuring 4 year olds and older actually understand all terms and concepts the parent uses), they can expect the child will possibly misbehave in the same way.
  • A child does not always know to say ‘I didn’t understand what you were meaning/what do I do when this happens next time/why have I been put in my room?’.

How to avoid time outs

  • Choose to look at why your child has acted the way they have, before you assume they are being ‘naughty’ and acting against you.  Why is your child getting to the point of misbehaving?  Are they bored?  Are they excited?  Are they overstimulated?  Are they craving your attention?  Are they having difficulty regulating their emotions?
  • Use age-appropriate language.  Really stop to ask yourself ‘does my child understand what I am saying?’.  Do I need to show my child how to act instead.
  • Aim to teach your child what to do in each scenario.  For example, “no hitting…say ‘mine'”, ‘no playing here (with power point)…not safe…come play here’.
  • You may need to distract on from inappropriate behaviours (such as power points), when your child is too young to understand why they must not play there.
  • Identify with your child’s feelings.  Instead of sending them to time out for hitting, tell them what they are feeling.  For example, ‘you are frustrated…no hitting…come here for a hug’, ‘no hitting mummy…you are frustrated…you wanted books now..dinner…come’.
  • Use natural consequences. If your child tips out all the blocks, ensure they help to pack up, even if it’s hand over hand.  If your child bites a sibling because they are frustrated they ripped their drawing, ensure they help to give some love for the bite (hug, pat, sit with sibling, get icepack) but also ensure the sibling helps to fix the drawing.  Ensuring natural consequences occur is more functional than just demanding your child apologises.  ‘I’m sorry’ is easily muttered without your child learning any lesson of what their behaviour really meant.
  • Expect your child to learn their lesson the first time, IF you have explained it well and have shown them the appropriate action for next time.  Many children (especially young ones), will need to be shown a few times.  Be patient!
  • Be consistent.  If your child shows the same inappropriate behaviour, such as tipping out the blocks when you have just asked them not to, show them to pack them away again.  If your child is enjoying the attention of repeating inappropriate behaviours, move them onto another activity, without feeling the need for further punishment or lectures.  For example, ‘no more tipping….finished…time to eat’.
  • Trust your child will learn the appropriate behaviour, in time.  Keep being patient, modelling the correct behaviour and explaining why you do not approve of the inappropriate behaviour.

How can a hug solve the problem?

Very often, a child is misbehaving to attract your attention, even if it is your negative attention.  This perpetuates a cycle of your child misbehaving, gaining your (negative) attention and so they keep doing this to gain more of your attention.  Yes, sometimes your negative attention is better than none of your attention.

So try it.  Break free of the cycle and give your child a hug, as soon as your child appears to be bored or acting up to gain your attention….and see what happens.

Don’t hold your child accountable for misbehaving. They are a child. They are learning. You will need patience and understanding.  Be happy to teach your child and model how to act appropriately.  Life is too short.  Don’t waste your and their time playing the time out game!

Dealing with tantrums..with love

Stay on your child’s side!  When your child is having a TANTRUM, the ones where they have truly lost it, FIRST help their brain to calm down by:
– staying calm in what you say, how you act & your volume
– offering a hug
– seeing the problem from your child’s point of view, no matter how inconvenient the tantrum!
– identifying with your child & labeling emotions (‘it’s hard isn’t it’, ‘that was disappointing wasn’t it’)
– don’t offer lectures – the lesson learnt can be discussed when your child is cool
– don’t keep saying ‘no’ or ‘rubbing it in’

Whilst your child needs to learn lessons, they also need understanding that their emotions can be BIG and difficult to get over.  No matter much you think it shouldn’t matter!
If you can help your child to regulate their emotions, they will get better at this as time goes on.  And eventually you’ll be able to talk them out of even going down the meltdown road!

The more love you put in, the more you get back..just like with our children!

Just a few months ago I realised our veggie patch wasn’t giving us as many veggies as it had been.  So we gave it some love and a few weeks later it is nearly overgrown!  It got me thinking about the times when our children might need a bit of ‘extra’ love for whatever reason.  And just like with the garden, before you know it they are flourishing!

The extra love might be hugs, time spent together or some nice words. You will know what your child needs!
Heidi

growing with love

growing with love

Do you want a hug?

[18 mths +] My best tactic for dissolving a tantrum/meltdown or in better terms ‘difficulty regulating one’s emotions’……..
‘Do you want a HUG!??!!??!??!’. Every single time my boys always say ‘YES’ (in an ‘I thought you’d never ask’ tone) and it calms them down enough for us to talk about the situation they were in. Much sooner than if I had not offered the hug!

The thing is, when your child is overwhelmed with emotion, their brain will find it virtually impossible to think straight or take in what you are saying to them. In fact, any type of talking or attempting to negotiate them in this state can actually add fuel to the fire.

The book ‘The Whole Brain Child’ by Daniel Spiegel and Tina Payne Bryson is a must-read if you are entering into tantrum zone with your child (or still struggling with them) and particularly if you are interested in how a child’s brain develops and works. It is a very easy read with plenty of drawings to keep you interested! You’ll find yourself taking sides with your child instead of fighting them..

ps – there are those occasions when your child might be SO worked up, they say ‘no’ to everything offered.  This is when I found it was time for any distraction, planted just near them for them to accept themself.  For us, it was the iPhone….!

Saying it with a pen – appropriate greetings

One day Master 3 started taking my face in his hands and giving me a kiss. Cute!  Until I heard he was doing it to the ladies at daycare…!

So we did a drawing!

where does everyone fit in?

where does everyone fit in?

I asked Master 3 how he would greet the main people in his life.  This was an eye-opener!!

Kiss

Master 3 named just about everyone under this category!  So we talked about who in our family we kiss.  Some partners of family members we haven’t known for long, so we discussed if they should move to hug or shake hands.

Hug

We talked about how it is probably more appropriate to hug friends and educators at daycare than kiss and that it is still a very nice way to show you care.  We also discussed when people are showing they have had enough of the hug (pulling away, brother whinging).

Shaking hands

We talked about how to know when to hug or shake hands.  Shaking hands being mostly with men that we know, especially when they put their hand out.   We practiced again how to do this!  Opposite hands, opposite hands.

Waving

It’s still nice to be friendly to people we don’t know so well, or don’t know at all.  This could be the swimming instructor or the garbage man.  When someone waves at you, that’s probably a good sign to wave back and not to hug, kiss or shake hands.

This was a fun discussion but also an important one, particularly for overly affectionate Master 3!  The start of ‘stranger danger’ but he doesn’t know it yet.