How to Apply Time-out In Your Home (continued)
Sample Family Challenges in Implementing Time-out (continued)
Whenever we send both sons to time-out because they are fighting, six-year-old Noah comes out calm a lot sooner than nine-year-old Victor and that makes Victor mad – then he fusses and whines about how unfair it is, so time-out doesn’t work for us. What can we do?
It sounds as if Noah has learned how to regain calm, while Victor still sees time-out as a punishment rather than as help for him to calm down. It appears that time-out does work for you, but so far only with Noah.
Think about what might keep Victor from responding positively to time-out. For example, do you use time-out in a way that is similar to past punishment, perhaps sending him to the same spot you once sent him when you were upset? If so, consider using a different place for time-out and any other modifications that you think might help Victor understand that time-out is to help him.
After you have reviewed your procedures, have a talk with Victor when he is calm. Explain to him that you are sorry things have not gone as well as either of you would like. Then describe to him the changes you will make so that he can get a fresh start the next time he can’t calm himself. Restate the overall idea of time-out, namely to assist him in regaining calm, the same as for Noah. Point out that how rapidly each of them calms is not up to you but is up to each of them, and point out that he will probably be more successful if he concentrates on recovering his composure sooner rather than later. Take care here not to make comparisons between the boys since doing so could feed his resentment and weaken the impact of your talk.
These adjustments will assure that you have established the conditions for Victor’s success with time-out. When you next use it, go through the steps carefully, and when each son comes to let you know he is calm, reinforce him for that and let him continue with other activities. Just be sure that whichever child becomes calm first stays away from the one still in time-out until both are calm and are ready to be together.
These steps will assure that you have done what you can to improve Victor’s capacity to respond constructively in time-out. The rest is up to him.
During this process it is important that you avoid responding to further whining or fussing. However reasonable your argument, trying to convince Victor it is fair for Noah to move out of time-out before Victor is also ready is unlikely to succeed. Instead, just allow the storm to run its course so that Victor sees that fussing gains him nothing while regaining calm can end the problem. Thus, whenever he fusses, wait it out, and when he finally calms, reinforce him for being calm. With these changes, your chances of helping Victor to become as responsive to time-out as is his sibling are excellent.