Time Out For Adults

As a parent, one of the most effective forms of correction is a “time out”, basically a little bit of time for a child who is having trouble controlling their emotions to go somewhere else and settle down. It's really not a punishment, per se, even if it is seen as such. It's meant to be a cooling off period and a chance for the child to get in touch with their thoughts without the influence of their siblings. If they fall asleep, that's okay, they probably needed the rest and we need to remember to put them to bed earlier. In our family the general rule of thumb is that a time out lasts one minute for every year of age, so the four year old goes to time out for four minutes and the fourteen year old for fourteen minutes.

The joke, of course, is that the parents would love to spend forty-some-odd minutes alone in their room.

And...it's not a bad idea, actually. But parental time outs need some modifications:

For me the main value of putting myself in time out is that I deliberately shut off all distractions and make myself use the time to process my emotions. I'm not going to defer my feelings by browsing social media, I'm going to make myself sit down and feel those dang feelings. It's important.

And it works, funnily enough. I've had to do this more than usual lately. But when I force myself to do a totally distraction-free time out, I come out of it feeling more balanced and more capable of handling whatever it was that was bothering me.

And yes, I usually fall asleep. That's okay. I just need to remember to put myself to bed earlier that night.