Time-Out Talk | Teaching Self-Government

Time-Out Talk

There are times, I regret to say, where I get preoccupied with things and sometimes forget to correct things right when they happen.

For example, my 4-year-old asked me for some grapes one day.  I handed him some grapes in a bowl and resumed my other kitchen work.

He looked at the grapes and said in a whiny voice, "I want you to pick them off for me."  (He likes them loose in the bowl.)

I should have corrected him right there, but for some reason, I let him whine at me.  Maybe it was because I was focused on what I was doing, or maybe it was because I thought he would accept my response.  Either way, it is always better to correct all negative behaviors as soon as possible.

I said, "I know you want me to pick them off, but I have to finish what I am doing right now.  You are good at picking them off.  You will need to do it yourself this time."

He said, with an even whinier voice, "I can't.  You need to pick them off."  He started to repeat this again.

I said, "Porter, I just gave you a No answer...You should have..."  (Now I was finally teaching.)

Porter continued to say, "I can't do it.  It's too hard."  (He was not ready to be taught.  He was out of control.)  I couldn't help but wonder at this point if he wouldn't have gone this far, if I would have corrected him after his first whiny remark.

I calmly took Porter to time-out.  He sat down, and I went back to work in the kitchen.

After about 30 seconds, Porter started yelling, "I'm ready to talk!  I'm ready to talk!..."

I walked over to time out and said, "Porter, if you are ready to follow instructions and talk, then you would be quietly waiting in time out for Mom to come talk to you.  You are yelling.  That shows me that you are still out of control and need to stay in time out.  When you are quiet for 4 minutes then I will know that you are ready to talk to me."

I walked away and looked at the clock.  If you are going to say that, then you CANNOT forget them there.  If you forget them there, then they have every right to yell for you to come.

After 4 minutes of calm time out time, I went up to Porter, knelt down and gave him a big hug. Praised him for being so calm and happy and began to teach him what he did and what he should have done.  Then we practiced the right way accept no answers, and disagree appropriately; because that was also an option.  Practice is vital, especially for young children.

Porter went back to the counter after our teaching time and started picking his grapes off of the vine and eating them happily.  It wasn't hard for him at all, he just didn't want to do it. Even toddlers can be manipulative... 

Always take the time to correct your children. Don't let it go unnoticed or they will think they can continue to do it.