Time outs reframed as “safe space”

Constructive ways to help your child cool down

Constructive ways to help your child cool down

The practice of “time out” – i.e. removing a misbehaving child to a quiet room to be alone – is under re-evaluation. Writing for Popsugar, child psychologist and mom of three children under the age of five, Jennifer Frechette, offers both personal and professional perspective on this method. She reminds us the idea is not to punish or humiliate, but to help a child learn to “self regulate.” Rather than “time out,” she prefers the term “safe space.”

Frechette cites a 2016 study that found approximately 76% of parents used time-out as a form of discipline. “But more importantly,” she writes, “the survey found that way parents define and implement time-outs is diverse.”

As a parent and a former preschool teacher, I learned about time outs a little over twenty years ago, when the term was still somewhat new. I learned that one size does not fit all. I angrily placed my raging toddler son in a room by himself once, and two decades-plus years later, I still feel like it was a mistake. He got very, very upset, and did not, in fact, calm down. After that, I learned how to redirect him. I.e., I talked sternly to him, and did not allow him to play with certain things he wanted, but I didn’t shut him away by himself, howling in protest. He became mostly very well behaved eventually.

READ MORE: Creating a calm down corner

At the preschool, I frequently removed one spirited girl in particular from the group. She had a hard time playing well with others. I would take her to a back room and sit with her, talking in measured tones about what she’d done. She eventually got herself together.

According to Frechette, initiating a mindful dialog with a misbehaving child is key: “First, the child should be asked if they are feeling angry, frustrated, or any other feeling you may suspect,” she writes. “This helps give your child the emotional vocabulary and also reminds them to check-in with their body and feelings. If your child continues to escalate and begins to tantrum, calmly and clearly (if you have any patience left) tell them they need to go to their safe space.”

This safe space, Frechette maintains, “should provide the child with a variety of sensory tools to help them calm down. This may include a comfy sitting area, books, music (try to avoid anything with screens), a punching pillow, a chalk board, access to clay, weighted blanket, drawing tools or paint, yoga cards, or mindfulness tools.”

After some time, Frechette says checking in on the child is important, and asking them questions. These respectful, but firm tactics, which should be employed consistently, can go a long way to helping an unhappy kid find their way back.

More Homeschooling

  • Indoor spots for teens to play

    Older kids need to have some play time too

    Teens need places to go that aren't lame and won't bore them to tears. We have the best in the Valley listed just for you. read more »
  • Everything you need to know about student loans

    Traditional ways of paying for college aren't working

    More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings i falling. read more »
  • 3 ways people of all ages can make the most of International Youth Day

    Celebrate youth activists and combat ageism

    August 12 is International Youth Day, a United Nations effort to celebrate youth activists, combat ageism and help bridge gaps between generations working toward the same change. read more »
  • 4 ways to get involved this global volunteer month

    It's a good time to get in on the action

    Global Volunteer Month, celebrated throughout April, is a time to recognize people who actively support their communities through volunteerism and active civic engagement. It’s also a time to get in on the action. However, if you’re like many people, you may not know where to begin. read more »
  • Minimize the risk of child identity theft

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection offers advice

    Child Identity Theft is a growing problem. According to recent data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft for those under 19 years old grew 60% in three years. read more »
  • 5 reasons why your child should (and can) learn how to play chess

    A revolutionary new game that helps kids learn this game of strategy

    Chess is one of the oldest and most popular games in history, with early forms of the game dating back to the 6th century CE. The game has certainly seen a revival since the pandemic began, as people around the globe have dusted off their chess boards and even binged one of the most-watched series ever inspired by the masterful game for much-needed entertainment. read more »
  • Visit cool sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley

    These sculptures are generally huge and sure to please

    Visit fun and educational sculpture gardens in the Hudson Valley. Sculpture Parks and their gardens are a unique way for families to appreciate and enjoy art. The open spaces are wonderful for kids of all ages. Most locations offer space to roam and enable us to enjoy these unique pieces at our own pace. read more »
  • 5 ways to get kids excited about STEM learning

    The country needs more good scientists

    The events of the past couple of years have shown how important scientists are to making the world a better and safer place. read more »
  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 fun, easy ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »
  • 6 tips to mitigate mental health risks for youth

    The surgeon general highlight the urgent need to address Youth Mental Health Crisis

    Today’s kids are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety at home, school and in their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic, which affected kids in all those places, only exacerbated the problem. read more »