Parents and teachers who use time-out as a punishment do not understand child development or brain development. (See Understand the Brain Tool Card.) They do not understand that children are always making decisions about themselves (am I good or bad, capable or not capable, etc.), decisions about others, (are they supportive, friendly, etc. or not), and then decisions about what they will do in the future.
These decisions are not made at a conscious level, but they help create a child's personality (even though these decisions are made at a subconscious level).
Parents say really silly things when sending a child to punitive time-out such as, “You think about what you did.”
Try imagining what your child is feeling, thinking, and deciding while in time-out. Is she thinking, “I appreciate this so much. It really helps me realize the error of my ways, and to think about how to mend my ways.” More likely she is thinking, "I won't get caught next time." "I'll get even." Or, worst of all, "I'm bad." This is why the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) is very much against time-out.
Positive-time-out is totally different. A child (or students in a classroom) designs a "positive time-out area" filled with pleasant things to help him calm down until he can access his rational brain and "do better."
Then allow your child to "choose" to go to his positive time-out instead of being sent. During a conflict you might say, “Would it help you to go to your ‘feel good place?” If your child says, “No,” ask, “Would you like me to go with you?” (Often this is encouraging to a child and helps increase a connection, as well as calming down.) If your child still says, “No,” (or is having such a temper tantrum, she can’t even hear you,) say, “Okay, I’m going to my time-out place.” What a great model for your children.
Go to your own Positive Time-Out
Going to your own positive time-out is often the best place to start during a conflict. Instead of asking your child if it would help her to go to her feel good place, just go to your own. Your time-out could be a physical place. It could also take place by taking deep breaths, counting to ten (or 100), meditating on how much you love your child, etc.
Not for Children under the age of Three to Four
If a child isn't old enough to design his own positive-time-out area, he is not old enough to understand any kind of time-out—even positive time-out.
Choose another Positive Discipline Tool Card
Remember that even positive-time-out is not always the most effective parenting tool to help children learn self-discipline, responsibility, problem-solving skills, and other valuable social and life skills. That is why there are 52 tool cards.
Listen below to an excerpt from Building Self-Esteem Through Positive Discipline.
Positive Time Out