Bringing Peace to Time Out

A typical snapshot of me disciplining my kids looks something like this: *deep sigh* “Go sit in timeout” or “Seriously!? GO TO TIMEOUT!”

Of course neither of these are very effective and my children really have outgrown time-out as it exists in our home. They go through the motions just fine, but it is insincere and lacking a learning component. I have been reading a lot about the idea of peace in Montessori-style discipline and I feel like we are ready to make the change from “time-out” to making peace, both with yourself and others.

We are starting with making peace with ourselves which will replace our outdated time-out system. I am starting with the language my husband and I use when correcting the kids. For my son it will look like this “Go make peace with your choices, set the timer for 3 minutes.” For my daughter it will look like, “Go reflect on your choices, set the timer for 5 minutes, and draw your feelings in your Peace Journal.” I originally wanted her to write, but realized she is not ready to express herself that way. I want her to go through the reflection process, because I feel she is making conscious poor choices. My son is not ready for this step and at the age of 3 his issues are more childishness than defiance or disrespect.

I have invested in two items for this process. One is an egg timer that can easily be set by the kids. This will allow them to have control over the time. They will not have to wonder or worry about when they will get to rejoin the family, which should allow for more reflection and thoughtfulness. For my oldest, I found an unused composition notebook from a previous school year and she wrote: “Sadie’s Peace Journal” on the front. We had a sit down to say that when she makes poor choices at home or school she will need to sit and think about those choices by drawing her feelings and actions in the notebook. She is super-pumped about this. We shall see how effective it is, but it certainly can’t be worse than what has been happening.

My daughter's reflection tool. Unused so far, thanks to good behavior!

My daughter’s reflection tool. She drew pictures of a leaf and a dove, obviously. Unused so far, thanks to good behavior!

Wish us luck on this new adventure! I am trying to learn more about the peace process between the kids and hope to implement that over their break from school.

8 thoughts on “Bringing Peace to Time Out

  1. I absolutely love this! We are in our first year of Montessori, PK4 and while the threat of a time out is effective, I think the time out part is an ineffective learning tool. This looks MUCH better!

  2. Sounds similar to the Love & Logic approach. Reflecting on choices, discussing that every choice (good or bad) has consequences (good & bad). Example from last night: “Austin, please eat your kale”. Austin responds with yelling out, “NO! I don’t want to eat my kale, YOU eat YOUR kale!”. My response (in a non-reactive tone), “Austin, you can choose to either eat your kale or don’t eat your kale, but if you choose to not eat your kale the consequence is no ipad or TV after dinner”. Greg and I continue have a pleasant discussion as if nothing has happened. Once Austin saw we didn’t “care” he promptly ate some kale and after dinner said, “I ate my kale, mommy, may I please be excused to play ipad?” – of course Greg and I forget or let our split second frustration overcome being logical with him, but when we take to time to think about our reactions with him and not the split-second argument, it helps. Good luck! I will be waiting for some follow-up on how it is working for you! I need all the tips I can get!

    • Keep up the good fight Jen! When I told to go reflect on his choices the first time he said, “I don’t want to reflect.” It was funny because then he totally was able to articulate the poor choice he made. I totally agree that it is more about my reaction to the problem than their actual actions.

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