by Henrietta Joyce
Dr. Phil in his effective parenting survey of 17,000 people found that the two top challenges facing parents were making punishment work and improving school performance. In my experience as a class teacher and coach I have noticed that the biggest obstacle to maintaining effective discipline within the home is a lack of constructive, consistent discipline. Effective discipline should be positive, constructive and for correction rather than punitive. Many parents look upon discipline as a last resort when they are in a rage and therefore were confused and inconsistent in their use of Time Out.
Picture this! Your child is screaming like you are killing him, arms flaying wildly feet thrashing around. You feel angry and frustrated and you’d like to respond by shouting back at him or worse still giving him a swift slap on the bottom. Does this resonate with you? Well I’ve experienced this many times too. Tantrums are unfortunately horribly normal. Most young children have tantrums, throw toys, bite or stomp when they are frustrated. Although embarrassing and irritating, when dealt with calmly by using effective discipline techniques most children grow out of it. Time Out is often over used by parents who have not thought up other discipline strategies.
Be Consistent. It is vital that your child knows that you always follow through.
Children don’t like being ignored so if your child’s behaviour is petty ignore him or her. For difficult behaviour that cannot be ignored, and for children who regularly disobey their parents Time Out can be useful if used correctly. The purpose of time out is to calm your child down and interrupt difficult behaviour. If a child is hysterical Time Out may not be the best solution. Research shows that Time Out is most effective for children three to six years of age. Time Out is inappropriate for children under two.
Time out is only effective when:
· The adult remains calm
· The child understands in advance about Time Out
· It is viewed as a calming measure
· It is not over used
To use Time out as an effective parenting technique I suggest the following guidelines. Children must be told clearly which behaviours lead to Time Out. Parent cannot change the rules on a whim or when they are angry. For example if the rules are Time Out is used for biting, hitting and throwing things you cannot decide to send your child to Time out for refusing to eat her carrots at meal time. Remind her that Time Out is a way of helping her to calm down and behave better. Children should be shown where the time out area is in advance.
Choose a safe, quiet boring place. Hallways, bottom step, chair facing a wall or a small rug are all suitable Time Out places. It is always a good idea to have a back up room to send your child if he refuses to stay in the Time Out area. Remember Time Out is not a punishment so don’t use a scary place such as a dark cupboard or cellar.
To be effective Time Out needs to be short about three minutes for a three-year-old, four minutes for a four year old, a minute for each year of a child’s life.
When your child has been quiet for about two minutes invite him to come out. If your child refuses to come out don’t cajole or nag simply ignore him, he will join you when he is ready. Ask your child for an apology. It is important at this point to discuss calmly and pleasantly what has happened don’t lecture. Many parents omit the final phase – the discussion. It is in fact the most important part of the using Time Out effectively because during the discussion the child is taught the correct way to behave. Finally give your child a hug to reassure him that you still love him. This is how to use time out as an effective parenting technique.
Henri Joyce is an experienced teacher and coaches effective parenting and parenting through divorce. She teaches a effective parenting techniques at the University Of Masters. To claim some valuable downloads and newsletters on effective parenting, you can subscribe to her popular newsletter at: http://www.effectiveparenting.co.uk