Friday, November 21, 2008

Time IN

Most of us are familiar with the discipline concept of Time Out: remove the child from the situation, isolate the child in a spot away from the rest of the action and require him to stay in that spot for a certain amount of time (eg. one minute for every year of age). The goal is to have the child suffer a little bit and to cause him to consider carefully before committing the same infraction in the future. Like many other discipline tools, this one can be effective when properly employed.

In our house, when the children act out, they are likely to get a Time IN. For Time In, they give up their freedom to move about the house as they please because they are to be my "shadow" for a specified time. I have them right near me where I can address heart issues and continue the training that I hope will result in improved behavior.

When the child is next to me, I can read their body language, question their motives and probe their understanding of what is expected. Sometimes there's lots of dialog and sometimes none at all, depending on what is needful at the time. It helps me to discipline (and yes, even punish) the children while fortifying our relationship. If I'm nursing the baby, then they must sit quietly next to me. If I'm chopping veggies for supper, they'll be washing them or scooping them into the pot.

It will often happen, when Time In is up, the child will choose to stay in my company for a while. I wonder if that means that what was needed all along was a dose of individual attention from Mama. I'm not sure why it works, but I have found Time IN to be a very useful disciplinary tool.

If you'd care to share, I would love to read some of the discipline strategies you've found useful in your home.


  1. I LOVE this technique!

    Why do we "outcast" our children when they misbehave when we could be using that opportunity to strengthen our relationship with them? Isn't that what God does with us? When we misbehave, He uses that opportunity to bring us closer to Him.

    I worked in a residential youth program for three years, and I lived with 8 teenage boys. When one of them goofed, and I mean really goofed (like when one of them mysteriously acquired fireworks and set them off outside his bedroom window), we would give them a "time in." For a day or two (usually on the weekend when they wanted to be hanging out with friends), they would shadow us. Every errand, every bit of cleaning, every meal - they were with us.

    It was often painful for both the child and staff, but by the end of the time-in, we had built a bond that otherwise might not have been established.

    Sometimes it would have been easier to just shut the kid in his room for a day, but I am so grateful for those hours and days that I spend timing-in with those boys.

  2. My Jessy also received "time-ins". Time out is exactly what he wants...away from me. For foster/adopt children, especially, when they are excluded from the family, situation, whatever, that is when they feel most is what they are used to. It is much more painful to have to spend that one on one time with me. the end, after 2 years of time ins, the results are fabulous! My Jessy's attachment issues are non-existent at this point.

  3. This is great. Oh, but it requires love and discipline on our part. My prayer would be that I could do this with God's strength and His loving heart, because sometimes...I just want them to go to their rooms. Oh, man, what a holy refinery child rearing is. We think we're raising them, but...

  4. A fabulous idea. I'm down to just one kid in need of such discipline. I hope I have it in me to follow through with this.

  5. I love this idea too. I've never felt like time outs were quite working for my particular boy. I'm sure they do for some people, but I just really really like this time IN idea. Thank you for sharing it.

    And I gave you an award today on my blog. :)

  6. How often does their behavior reflect the need for attention? What an inspired solution.

  7. Great idea Dana. I'm not sure Jake is really old enough yet to appreciate a Time IN, but I can see the day coming all too soon. Thanks for the wisdom.

    Not yet in use in our household, as Jake is still an "only", but when I was a kid and any kind of disagreement occured between myself and my brother, the "punishment" was very similar to a Time IN.

    Instead of shadowing a parent, we had to spend some quality time together, each doing something the other wanted (or better still something we both enjoyed). When the time was up we had to tell Mom something new we learned about each other, followed by the expected apologies for the original offences.

    Thanks again!

  8. I adore this idea. I'm going to try it this week with a certain five-year-old who's prone to needing time outs lately.

  9. Once again you serve up awesome parenting advice. nummy!

  10. I have never heard of a time in, thanks for sharing!

  11. DUDE! GREAT IDEA! I'm going to do it....right. now. Well, okay, maybe I'll wait til it's necessary. :)