Time Out or Time In?

Time Out or Time In? I would say this is an age-old question, but I’m fairly positive none of our parents were asking this when we were younger. I’m not even sure when “time in” became a thing. None of this is to mock or discount the myriad of valid discipline approaches out there. Instead, I want to emphasize the fact that every child is unique and thus different methods of discipline will be more or less effective with each individual child (even within the same family). It’s a wonder why there are such things as disciplinary trends. Of course, all that to say, this is what has worked for us ;).


First, the difference between time out and time in from WebMD:

Time out: “removing a child from the environment where misbehavior has occurred to a ‘neutral,’ unstimulating space.”

Time in: “noticing when your children’s behavior is starting to get out of hand and spending five or 10 minutes with them before they seriously misbehave.”

We use something in between these two methods. First and foremost we determine whether Grey is “misbehaving” or if he’s actually upset, tired, hungry, uncomfortable, sad, disappointed etc. These things don’t merit “discipline” and have a solution. Second, if he is behaving in a way we think is inappropriate or dangerous (i.e. standing on the table) we correct the behavior verbally and try to redirect him to another activity. If he refuses or begins to hit or scream and/or becomes obviously angry, we let him know we are going to “sit down until we can calm down.” And we do just that, we sit with him until he calms down. Then we say “thank you” and let him go on with his day. It may sound all millennial and hippy dippy to some, but it works. In addition, it gives me, the parent, the opportunity to avoid unnecessary frustration, and as a result I don’t have to feel guilty because I overreacted in a moment of anger. I want to note that we also allow Grey to cope on his own. For example, he often runs to his room to cry if he is upset after we’ve redirected him. More often than not, he calms down, gets distracted and starts playing again–all on his own.

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One last note, we started our “sit down” method when Grey turned 2. We felt that prior to this age, he was unable to grasp the idea of “misbehavior.”

In the spirit of sharing, what has worked best for you and your toddler/preschooler?

One comment

  1. First, I love your blog and this post! Discipline is needed It’s and necessary. Assessing your toddler first then acting second is good advice..I love the time in or time out method. Haha Hippy Dippy was great description. As a baby boomer I used the “spontaneous method” if you know what mean lol. With love of course…

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