Posted by: icmadoptionnetwork | April 26, 2013

Time In

When discussing discipline techniques, one that is becoming more widely-accepted and utilized is Time In.  If you are unfamiliar with this concept, Time In is the concept that, rather than having your child go off by themselves as a punishment for bad behavior, have them be present with you through the punishment. Time Ins encourage a bonding experience and enhance the parent-child relationship through discipline. Time Ins have connection and relationship at the core of the concept, which is something adopted and foster children consistently need to be reminded of. There are two major reasons why Time Ins are successful with adopted and foster children.

The first is that most of these children have unresolved feelings of abandonment. You might never see these feelings and the child might keep them safely guarded in their heart, but the fact is that every adoption is born from a loss (whether that be the death of a parent, abandonment, or any other reason). When we send the child away from us during discipline (such as in a time out), we are not being present with them during an opportunity to teach them and help them grow. I have heard many stories of adopted or foster children having complete meltdowns over a time out. Time Ins reinforce to the child that you are going to be there for them and with them even through the worst of and hardest times.

The second reason that Time Ins can be effective with adopted and foster children is that oftentimes children that have been adopted or are in the foster system have never been taught or shown how to regulate their own emotions. That is when we see fits and tantrums at their most extreme. By exercising Time Ins, the parent can be present to help their child learn to regulate their emotions. Whether that be by simply holding them, having a discussion (with older kids), making them a green tea smoothie, having them assist you with a chore, or going for a walk together, the idea of Time Outs is that you are helping the child calm themselves down and teaching them to regulate their emotions and feelings. It also reinforces to the child that feelings come and go, and we all have to process through them in a healthy way (more on that next week).

For more information on different Time In techniques, and which to use with certain behaviors, here is a great link to learn more:

The key to Time Ins is letting no misbehavior go unattended or unaddressed, but taking each misbehavior as a learning experience for your child. Granted Time Ins do not work in every situation. Some behaviors are minor enough to not warrant a Time In, and some are more extreme and a Time In might not be effective. But Time Ins are one tool every parent should have in their Tool Box.


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