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Articles by Dr. Scott Turansky

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Dr. Scott Turansky

Dr. Scott Turansky offers moms practical, real-life advice for many of parenting’s greatest challenges. read bio

Time Out or Take a Break ?

Time out and taking a break are not the same thing. Typically, time out is a term used for isolating a child for wrongdoing by simply send that child away for a set period of time. This is “punishment by isolation” and can be counterproductive to the discipline process. Expecting children to solve problems alone is unrealistic. And the isolation can appear to force children away from the love of parent. A Break is a much more valuable technique because, if done correctly, it focuses on the heart. It is based on the principle of separation which provides the opportunity and the motivation for children to make heart-level changes. Consider the differences:

*The goal of time out is punishment while the goal of a Break is repentance.

*The focus of time out is behavior while the focus of a Break is the heart.

*The length of time for a time out is determined by the parent while the length of time for a Break is determined by the child.

*The role of discipline in a time out is a consequence while the role of discipline in a Break is a part of the training process.

*The party responsible for the child’s reentry from a time out is the parent while the child is the party responsible for making changes and returning from a Break.

*When time out is used the parent’s attitude emphasizes distance between parent and child while the parent’s attitude during a Break emphasizes the parent’s desire for the child to return.

From a very practical standpoint, a Break can be an excellent way to deal with much of the day-to-day correction children need. In fact, it can become the primary discipline technique used in a family to help children change. The three-year-old who screams out of frustration, the seven-year-old who continually interrupts, and the thirteen-year-old who teases relentlessly all need to understand why their actions are wrong and see the need to change the heart as well as their habits of behavior.

How to use a break:

1. Quickly begin the Break after misbehavior is evident (within 5 seconds).
2. Stay calm, remain businesslike and matter-of-fact.
3. State the offense. For example, “No whining.”
4. State the directive, “I’d like you to take a Break,” or “I think you need to take a Break.”
5. The Break location may be any place which is separate from the place of activity. Break spots vary depending on the situation and the age of the child. A younger child may sit near a wall in the same room or in the hall. Older children may go to their rooms.
6. Ignore protests, pleading, excuses, even tantrums or questions.
7. If a young child refuses to take a Break, pick him up and gently put him there and say “You need to obey.” As a parent, you must win.
8. Don’t talk to a child who is taking a Break except to clarify the Break instructions.
9. Allow the child to come out of the Break when he/she has at least calmed down, and is ready to talk about the problem. 

Used with permission from the book Eight Secrets to Highly Effective Parenting  by Scott Turansky, D. Min. and Joanne Miller, R.N., B.S.N., (Effective Parenting, Inc.).

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