How to Apply Time-out In Your Home (continued)
Manage Your Child Coming Back from Time-out
When you started the time-out process, you instructed your child to remain in the quiet place and to check with you when calm. Upon return to you, your child may be in any of three states:
1. Your child clearly is still poorly controlled. Every time your child returns still noticeably intense, send the child back to the quiet place and calmly but firmly say:
I can see you are still not calm inside. Go back to the quiet place until you feel calm inside and then come back and check with me.
Note the reference to “every time” since it is crucial that you follow through each time the child’s behavior demands it.
The demeanor of the child in the second and third alternatives will look very similar and the difference will become evident only after you weigh the matter, part of the reason for instructing the child to check with you.
2. The child has made an effort at regaining composure and comes to you looking calm, but the level of control remains tenuous. Since you won’t immediately know the difference, you initially will have to respond as if the child has achieved calm with some comment like:
It’s really great to have you back with the family. You seem to feel so much better now that you are calm.
This reinforces both the calmer behavior and the feelings behind it, helping the child to recognize and understand the good feelings associated with regaining internal control.
If the child who initially appeared to be calm returns to the previous misbehavior, whether seconds or minutes later, return the child to the quiet place. Here, though, your comment should recognize that both of you had reason to think the child was doing better, for example:
I could see you were trying, but now I can tell you are still having some trouble staying calm inside. Go back to the quiet place and stay until you feel really calm inside and then come back again and check with me.
Follow through as many times as necessary to assure that it is understood: the child must become calm before resuming other activities.
3. The child is completely calm and will not require a return to the quiet place. This outcome provides you a perfect opportunity to praise your child, reinforcing the capacity to regain composure free of rancor. At that point the process is over!