Portable “Time Out”

I am not a hardcore behaviorist.

I practice attachment parenting and gentle discipline, which are ultimately based on Glassar’s Control Theory (for any of you who happen to by psych nerds, out there!).  We treat all behavior as communication, and try to figure out what need the Bean is trying to meet, through her behavior.  (Then, we teach her more effective ways to meet that need).  We don’t use time-outs, per se, but we do sent Beanie to her room to calm down when she is overstimulated.

That being said, there are occasions when what is needed is an old-fashioned punishment.

Riding in the car, is one example.  The Bean loves to unbuckle her seatbelt.  Of course she is meeting a need–she is bored and wants to move around, rather than sitting in that uncomfortable car seat.  The long-term solution might be to find more diversions for her.  We’ll keep problem-solving, of course.

But, the more immediate concern is Beanie’s safety.  Explaining it doesn’t work, because her understanding of language is so limited (and she has no sense of danger).  We don’t believe in spanking or hitting (and Beanie has sensory issues, so she would have no reaction to physical punishment anyway).

So Rob had a stroke of genius.  He gave her a time out.

Rob said, “If you unbuckle it again, you will be on time out.”

She unbuckled it.  Rob buckled it back up, held her hands, and said, “Now you’re on time out.”

I bit my lip, to keep from laughing, and looked away.

Beanie was furious about this injustice, and once her time out was over (after a minute or two), she absolutely kept that seat belt buckled.

Sometimes it’s not the action, but the spirit behind it, that makes all the difference.


10 thoughts on “Portable “Time Out”

  1. As someone who understood exactly what you were saying- WAY TO GO! Sometimes children don’t rationally understand natural conseuqences- such as dying in a car accident. Therefore, you use what works! Way to take care of Bean and keep her safe! And, really, how punitive was it? How much more time on the road?

  2. That was great. My grandson ran through a parking lot the other day ignoring being told to take his mothers hand. As a result his punishment was to have to hold her hand, or another adults when she needed her two hands, for the rest of the day. Normally he would be thrilled to have so much of her attention, this day he was up because it was a punishment. Great job you guys did with Beanie that day.

  3. Love it! It seems like the creative “punishments” are the ones that work the best. My brother and I used to have to hold hands or hug for five minutes when we were kids after getting into a fight. It was torture!! : )

  4. Because she may not be hearing every word in a sentence, our school OT suggested that instead of saying, “Don’t go in the street,” try “Stay on the grass.” When are you heading back to MI?

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