Time-Out is a positive technique that can be used when the children you
care for are squabbling and their behavior is really annoying. It can be
used effectively with children aged 3 to 12. It should be viewed as a
calming device, not a punishment. It is just a short, boring period of
time away from others.
To use this technique, explain it to the children when everyone is happy
and things are going well. Give them an example: "The next time you
argue about toys, we're going to try a Time-Out. That means each of you
goes to a different place for five minutes. I will let you know when five minutes
are up." Assign each child a separate place to go - to a bedroom, on
a sofa, in a beanbag chair.
When you call a Time-Out, it is important to announce it calmly.
Otherwise, it will be viewed as a punishment. Time-Out gives children a
chance to calm down, think about what happened, and realize that you will
not allow the behavior to continue. When the Time-Out is over, let the children know
that "five minutes are up."
The first time you try it, the children may be puzzled. After they become
familiar with it, they accept it and may even call Time-Out on themselves.
A variation of this technique with toddlers is to lift the little one from
the situation, moving a short distance away from the problem situation,
and giving a short explanation like, "No biting people." Return
to comfort the other child and provide something for that child to do.
Then go back to the first youngster, explaining that "We do not bite
people. If you are angry, you can come and tell me. Now let's find a
puzzle for you to do."
It's important to reinforce the ADD child's compliance by implementing
Time-Out procedures for non-compliance. The Time-Out procedure can also be
used to reinforce increasingly longer periods of on-task behavior.
Researchers indicate that caregivers can be more effective and increase
their own self-esteem in the nurturing role when they are able to issue
fewer directives and give more positive feedback to children. Researchers
also say that it is important to deal with the issue of compliance in the
preschool years, "when behavior problems peak and caregivers'
experience stress and low nurturing self-esteem."
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
(1993). Try "time-out." In M. Lopes (Ed.) CareGiver News
(April, p.1). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Cooperative