Time-IN, Not Out (Guest Kristin Vandegriend)
I love “time-in.” When Carole is cross with me, she doesn’t usually send me to my room, but sometimes she freezes me out with her pointy glares and chilly words. (She won’t like me saying this.) But usually she does a time-in – she lets me work things out for a bit and then we talk and plan for a next time. There is always a next time.
Kristin Vandegriend is a friend who is doing time-ins masterfully with her little girl. I guess this is best used in parenting. You can read about it right here:
Back in the summer, we came across a parenting concept called “time in.” The basic concept is that when a child is struggling, what they really need is connection, not isolation and distance. Instead of punishing with a “time out” which is isolating, we respond with choosing to stay in proximity to our child until they can calm down and find a better way to cope. We had tried “time out” before, but with disastrous results.
Several weeks ago, our 4-year-old daughter was having a hard time at the dinner table. She was crying, screaming and hitting, behavior that is not acceptable in our home. Both my partner and I tag-teamed in trying to lay down boundaries with her and set expectations for behavior. It was really frustrating to see her behavior escalate and I could feel that I was starting to get angry as well. But in the moment, I thought about how she must feel when it becomes a 2-against-1 battle. It made me wonder if what she was simply asking for was to be heard and to feel a sense of connection (plus it was entirely possible that she was just really hungry as well.) I took her onto my lap and simply helped her eat her supper. She calmed down almost immediately and once the intensity was over, we were able to dialogue about what had happened and our expectations for her behavior in the future.
In other situations, I have taken her into her room, set a timer and simply been with her while she calmed down. On rare occasions, we make several trips back and forth to her room as she tries to regulate her behavior. We practice some breathing and we talk about ways that we can help calm ourselves down when we get overwhelmed with emotion. We address the inappropriate behaviors and outline expectations for more positive behaviors.
I don’t know if this strategy has worked for us because of who my daughter is or who I am. But when I think about when I am upset, what I really want is deep empathy, to be loved despite my failings and to know that I am not alone. So it makes me think that perhaps that this might actually be a deeper human desire and that children, in particular, need to know that they are not alone despite the ways that they may act.
Here is a further article from Positive Parenting Connection.