Tag Archives: timeout

Spotlight on: Parenting with Patience

parenting with patienceParenting with Patience by Judy Arnall details three steps parents can take to ease the process of moving away from using punishments to practicing positive discipline.

API: Tell us about your book.

Judy: Parenting With Patience normalizes parent and child anger, and proposes a simple three-step model to manage frustration and improve relationships. The book walks parents through a single incident of deliberate disobedience — because that is when most parents feel angry and really want to punish, whether they believe in it or not! — and shows how the three simple steps work. The three steps are:

  1. The parent gets calm first through timeout for the parent, not the child.
  2. The parent helps get the child calm through time-in.
  3. The parent and child work through the issue with collaborative problem-solving and time together.

Throughout the three steps, the book describes the three kinds of stresses every person faces, and the effects on brain development, as well as the five parenting styles, and the eight benefits and eight challenges of each temperament characteristic — yes, there are challenges to parenting an “easy” child.

The book also has a cut-out section of 70 calm-down tools useful for parents and children in the moment of anger. It has a massive section on what children are capable of socially, physically, emotionally and cognitively from babies to teens so that parents have realistic expectations for their children. It is full of practical tools of “what to do” and statements of “what to say” in the
moment of anger — for playgroup altercations, sibling anger, toddler tantrums, teen anger, school-aged attitude, partner anger and our own anger. It gives suggestions on how to word assertive “I-statements.”

The bonus is that anyone can read it in a day.

API: What inspired you to write the book?

Judy: When I wrote Discipline Without Distress, people loved the book because of its focus on guiding behavior of babies to teens with truly non-punitive strategies — not only no spanking or other physical punishments but also no timeouts, logical consequences or taking away possessions. It was translated into five languages. As a mom of five children who are now ages 13 to 23 — three currently at university — and a parent educator for the past 17 years, I discovered a lot of tips and tricks to help make family life more fun, caring and connected while getting through the daily grind. Although I never was a spanker, I did use timeouts and logical consequences and eventually dropped all of these punishments by the time my oldest son was 10. I was facilitating parent groups and compiled a lot of parent ideas for gaining cooperation into the Discipline Without Distress book.

The problem was that the parents and I found that positive discipline was fine with a calm brain — anyone could do it when calm — but it was much harder to do with a stressed and angry brain, even when one truly believed in non-punitive, gentle discipline.

I was also single parenting at the time, because my partner was away at work a lot. I thought that a companion book about Parenting With Patience,  loaded with ideas about handling stress, would be beneficial to parents because anger is a normal, healthy emotion. I found that parents were most at a loss in handling their children’s anger — at all ages, from toddlers to teens — respectfully and assertively in a way so that both of them win.

Helping children manage their anger without punishment is critical, because it determines their adult life success in jobs, relationships and happiness.

API: How will this book benefit other families?

Judy: Even if parents just take the first step, which is getting ourselves calm enough to think logically rather than emotionally, then family life will improve. The book provides at least 70 things to do in order to get calm.

The book also busts several parenting myths, such as that parents have to deal with things in the moment or toddlers will forget. Parents can take 30 minutes to calm down before they do anything and many strategies can be done with little children underfoot. Toddlers can remember what happened.

A critical section of the book outlines what ages children can do certain things. Parents feel they have to come down hard on the toddler years or behaviors will snowball by the teen years. Again, not true. Brain development is on their side in the later years.

Many “discipline” issues can be resolved with parent knowledge of appropriate development and adjustment of age-appropriate expectations.

API: Is there any special message you have for parents who feel that spanking is an appropriate discipline method for children?

Judy: I totally understand spanking. I felt the urge to spank from the anger arising when my kids deliberately disobeyed me. Non-parents just don’t understand how angry parents can feel with their offspring’s misbehavior.

Anger is a very normal and useful emotion. When we understand that spanking is most often a reaction of our anger, rather than a tool to teach — because we know logically that research shows it doesn’t work in the long run — then we can practice taking a timeout for ourselves a little bit every day. We can replace spanking with collaborative problem-solving if we are calm and help our children get calm first.

The more we do a habit, the more the habits become what we do. The payoff comes when we enjoy our beautiful results: Children who care about us, talk to us, have fun with us and listen to us — as we do for them.

API: What are your views of Attachment Parenting International (API)? How does your book work within API’s mission statement?

Judy: Attachment Parenting International is a much-needed organization to promote healthy child upbringing and provide support for parents for their choices.

When the Internet was born, a few like-minded parents and I started Attachment Parenting Canada (APCA) two years after API was founded. Canada is a very progressive country, parenting-wise, and most of the health organizations align with API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. We feel that API’s Eight Principles of Parenting are a wonderful framework to guide parenting decisions, and they are inclusive enough for everyone who has a desire to be a little more skilled in their parenting. No parent is perfect, and we can all work within API’s Eight Principles of Parenting.

Parenting With Patience addresses API’s Eight Principles of Parenting in its three-step model. The first step promotes API’s Eighth Principle of Parenting of taking care of ourselves.  The second step of helping our children with their anger promotes API’s Third Principle of Parenting of responding with sensitivity. The third step of collaborative problem-solving involves API’s Seventh Principle of Parenting of positive, non-punitive discipline.

API: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Judy: Every new day is a gift for us to begin again. Patience takes practice, and we can gain more by taking little baby steps. We can’t change the past, but we can start today. Every time we refrain from yelling is a gift for our children. Children are very forgiving, and you will love the fun, laughter, caring and joy of the school-aged and teen years if you drop punishments and begin collaborative problem-solving with them.

First, let’s deal with our frustration. This book will show you how.

API: Where can people find more information about your book or your work?

Judy: To learn more about APCA, visit www.attachmentparenting.ca. We are a nonprofit organization that provides information on API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. We offer free webinars to help readers implement the strategies and steps in the books Parenting With Patience and Discipline Without Distress.

You can also visit my website, www.professionalparenting.ca, which features articles, books, webinars and courses on non-punitive parenting and education practices.

A limited number of books are also available for purchase in the API Store.

Discipline for Young Children: 12 Alternatives to Time-Outs

Attachment Parenting Month 2013 is here! With this year’s theme of “Parenting Creatively: The Art of Parenting” in mind, we are pleased to share this article by reader Ariadne Brill, who blogs at positiveparentingconnection.net.

980545_20424464If you have read about the benefits of skipping time-out in favor of other ways to guide children but are not sure where to start, here are 12 alternatives to time-out  that give parents and children a chance to address choices and situations with the intention to offer guidance while maintaining a positive, respectful and peaceful connection.

These alternatives are mostly geared towards children aged 1 to 6 years but also work well beyond that, too.

1. Take a break together. The key is to do this together and before things get out of hand. So if your child is having a difficult time or making unsafe choices like hitting a playmate, find a quiet space to take a break together. Just five minutes of connection, listening to what your child is feeling and talking about more appropriate choices really helps. This is similar to a time-in.

2. Second chances. Ever made a mistake and felt so relieved to have a chance at a do-over? Often letting children try again lets them address the problem or change their behavior. “I can’t let you put glue all over the table. Do you want to try this again on paper?”

3. Problem solve together. If there is a problem and your child is acting out of frustration, giving him a chance to talk about the problem and listening to a solution he has can turn things around for the better.

4. Ask questions. Sometimes children do things but we don’t quite get it.  We might assume incorrectly they are doing something “bad” or “naughty” when, in fact, they are trying to understand how something works. Ask what they are up to with the intent to listen and understand first, then correct them by providing the appropriate outlet or information that is missing. So try, “What are you trying to do?” instead of, “Why in the world…ugh!!! Time out!”

5. Read a story. Another great way to help children understand how to make better choices is by reading stories with characters that are making mistakes, having big feelings or needing help to make better choices. Also, reading together can be a really positive way to reconnect and direct our attention to our child.

6. Puppets & play. Young children love to see puppets or dolls come to life to teach positive lessons. “I’m Honey Bear, and oh, it looks like you scribbled crayons on the ground. I’m flying to the kitchen to get a sponge for us to clean it up together. Come along!” After cleaning up together, “Oh, now let’s fetch some paper, and will you color me a picnic on the paper? Paper is for coloring with crayons!”

7. Give two choices. Let’s say your child is doing something completely unacceptable. Provide her with two alternatives that are safe, respectful and acceptable, and let her choose what she will do from there. By receiving two choices, the child can keep some control over her decisions while still learning about boundaries.

8. Listen to a song. Sometimes taking a fun break to release some tension and connect is all that children need to return to making better choices and all that parents need to loosen up a bit and let go of some stress. Listen to a song or take a dance break!

9. Go outside. Changing locations often gives us parents a chance to redirect behavior to something more appropriate. “I cannot let you scale the bookshelf. You CAN climb on the monkey bars. Let’s go outside and practice that instead!” Or, “Cutting the carpet with the scissors is not acceptable. Let’s go outside and cut some grass.”

10. Breathe. A big, deep breath for both parents and children can really help us calm down and look at what is going on with a new perspective. Take a big “lion” breath to get out frustrations or short and quick “bunny” breaths to feel calm and re-energized.

11. Draw a picture. A wonderful way for children to talk about mistakes is to make a picture of what they did or could have done differently. It’s a low-key way to open a window for talking to each other about making better choices.

12. Chill-out space. For a time-out to work, it needs to be something that helps everyone calm down, not something that makes children frightened or scared. A chill-out space is an area where children can go sit and think, tinker with some quiet toys, and have some space alone until they feel ready to talk or return to being with others. Using the chill-out space should be offered as a choice and not a command.

Every child and every situation is unique, so these tools are not one-size-fits-all but rather a list of ideas to lean on to expand your parenting toolbox. I find that striving to use proactive tools like these to respond to and to guide children towards better choices works far more positively than having to react when things have gotten out of hand.


Why Timeout as a Punishment Doesn’t Work

By Judy Arnall, author of Discipline without Distress, www.professionalparenting.ca

Judy ArnallAre you tired of holding the bedroom door handle closed when your school-aged child is trying to leave during a timeout? Fed up with your child trashing his room during timeout? Frustrated because you can’t get your child to calm down and think about restitution during his timeout?

Perhaps it’s time to re-think the way a timeout is used. Timeout is a popular behavior modification technique designed to punish unacceptable behavior. Much like the use of a penalty box in a hockey game, the absence from positive play is supposed to teach children to stop doing the behavior that got them sent there. However, it rarely works.

The Origin of Timeout

When parenting experts advised parents not to spank, timeout grew as a replacement for spanking. It was promoted under many names: quality time, reflection time, thinking time, timeout. It is promoted for children as young as one year old up to 13 years old, because then children are usually too big to be dragged off to their rooms. Parents loved it, because it sounded respectful and it gave them something concrete to do in times of misbehavior, rather than “not doing anything because spanking is not allowed anymore.” As the popularity of timeout grew, experts turned the purpose of timeout from a punishment that extinguishes behavior into a more acceptable-sounding purpose as a tool that enabled a child to “calm down.” However, as more and more parents used timeout to help their child “calm down,” they began to use it less as a calming tool and more as punishment. Continue reading Why Timeout as a Punishment Doesn’t Work