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


  • World's No. 1 STEAM Program Launches New STEM/STEAM Book Series

    New Challenge Island chapter book series with a spectacular, hands-on STEM/STEAM twist!

    Challenge Island has been providing kids with award-winning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) learning adventures for almost two decades. On National Stem Day (Nov. 8), the magic of the world's No. 1 STEAM program will combine with the magic of reading to launch the first book in the Challenge Island STEAM book series. read more »
  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • The Mama Bear Effect Launches New Resource to Combat Child Sexual Abuse

    Parents of young children and those with special education needs now have a free tool to educate children about their bodies and boundaries

    Parents, caregivers, teachers, and therapists now have a new tool to educate the most vulnerable population of children, those who need specialized assistance with learning and communication. read more »
  • How to help high-achieving students manage stress

    Tips and insight for parents

    School administrators at Howard County Public Schools (HCPS) in Maryland were surprised to learn that high-achieving students wanted to get rid of class rank—a measure of student success that weighs higher-level classes differently when calculating grade point average. The class ranking system created an unnecessary burden, students said, and discouraged them from taking the classes they really wanted. read more »
  • Libraries in the Hudson Valley

    Visit your local library for books, classes, events and more

    Libraries are a great resource for families. Not only can you check out a book, or two or three...you can also find classes for kids and adults. Some have summer reading programs, book clubs, homework help, career education and family-friendly events. read more »
  • Stem toy that kids are guaranteed to love

    Kids can learn all about the digestive system

    Have your kids take a journey through the belly with this STEM kit from Meandmine. HVP staff's grandkids review this fun toy and it gets 2 thumbs up! read more »
  • How to be funny, and how not to be

    Famous comedian Roy Wood Jr. offers tips

    Being funny can be a kid’s superpower, but it can also become a weapon to wound. Comedian Roy Wood Jr. helps fellow parents guide children accordingly. read more »
  • How and when to teach kids about homophobia

    A two-mom couple offer tips on having this crucial conversation

    Social media influencers Ebony and Denise, moms of three kids, have some helpful guidance on how and when to broach the topic of homophobia with your family. read more »
  • s-NO-w Day

    The world won't come to a halt if you spend the snow day with your kids

    Peter Shankman offers some great advice on what to do with that surprise snow day read more »