Glad I Saw It: Timeout

My son has always taken timeouts very seriously. He sees them as a punishment, for sure. My daughter, well, she’s a different story. While she sometimes grumbles or even screams about timeouts, she also ends up enjoying timeouts in her room as play time. Even worse, being sent to the corner is something not just to resist but to deride with goofy faces and laughter.

So, when I saw this “timeout” sign outside the always fun-to-pass Pat Gail Gallery on North Fullerton, I really thought about the answer to the question in the sign: How did timeout become a punishment?

In football (as far as I understand the game), timeouts are coveted, no? And around Mother’s Day, all the Mamas I know say they just want some commitment-free time alone. And these days, with all the connectivity that we choose to meld with, or feel obliged to cling to, it’s difficult to actually be alone. I mean Alone, as in unreachable – knowing you are unreachable.  There’s a certain calm that descends then, in knowing that there won’t be a ding or a ring or a buzz or a wail from the next room. Timeout doesn’t sound like a punishment to me.

But for children, for those still trying to grow connections and identity and safe places and belonging, I suppose it seems like the worst thing in the world. Timeout means being separated from an activity that must be done *right now*! Timeout means being away from the parent or sibling that you don’t know how to apologize to, but you know you want to hug. Timeout means someone thinks you are Bad. Because even if we are careful to say that the action is Bad, not the child, children don’t usually separate actions from people. And really, do we do that for each other?

So, in the spirit of my wise friend Eloiza Jorge, I encourage all of us to take a Timeout the next time you do something that deserves a pat on the back, something Good. Take a walk without your cell phone, read a chapter in a (real) book, just sit and look out the window for a while. I know it sounds hokey, but with all the slick in the world, maybe we can all use a little more hokey.

About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
This entry was posted in Glad I Saw It, People are Good, random observation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Glad I Saw It: Timeout

  1. dalrie says:

    My kids are exactly like that too. My oldest son is very high energy and so he hates being confined to the corner. He’d rather be crawling the cupboards or jumping off the couch. My daughter is a lot more laid back. She really doesn’t give one hoot about time-out at all. She’s been an interesting child to discipline. I have to get creative with her, like taking away her art supplies. I guess the objects she enjoys the most have to get timeouts when her behaviour is unacceptable lol.

    As for the bottom of the sign (I saw that you wondered what it meant on Twitter – I’m not sure if you got your answer or not). Stand up to Cancer.

  2. I want a time out, please oh please!!! My boys didn’t like them either. They are “doers!”

  3. anna says:

    Time-outs have never happened at my place, not for my kids, and as you point out, not for me either. Sigh.Though my kids do know not to bother mommy while she’s drinking her coffee, or as they always say to each other, “ooohh, better leave her alone she’s with her precious coffee.”

  4. Your child’s crib or bedroom may seem the most “convenient” place for time-out however the effectiveness of time-out will be greatly reduced if you choose this as the place. Your child’s bedroom usually has toys, games, a radio or books. It is far from dull and boring. More importantly, your child’s bedroom, particularly his crib, should be a place that he associates with safety, positive feelings, and sleep. Placing your child in his crib when he is misbehaving associates it with a “punishment” and he may later confuse other times he is put in his crib (e.g., nap time or bedtime) with negative feelings. Used frequently, some children might develop difficulties being put down to sleep.

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