Time Out Is Old News – Time In Works for Kids With Reactive Attachment


When I was a kid my mom used a form of time out. She would make us sit in a chair in the middle of the living room and close our eyes. Ah, the torture! Not only were you unable to play, but you didn’t even have the pleasure of taking in the sights around you.

In one room school houses in the late 19th century students who had misbehaved were often made to stand in the corner with their nose pressed against the wall while the rest of the class went on with their work for the day. Time out is far from a new concept-we just dress it up a bit and give it new names every few decades. More details please visit:-https://www.residens-ejendomme.dk/ https://feerie-gym.com/

But what if your child has had the ultimate time out? What if your child has experienced being locked in a bedroom for days with no interaction with adults? How do you think time out could affect a kid like that? You would be correct in assuming that time out used as a punishment for a child who has experienced neglect and deep rejection can be at best, ineffective and at worst, downright damaging.

So how does an adoptive parent go about disciplining a child who has been through these experiences? Time out is the big gun for many parents, right? If you have been a foster parent of a child under the age of 7 your caseworker has most certainly encouraged you to use it. After all, how can something that doesn’t involve physical punishment hurt a formerly abused child? But consider this–Children with reactive attachment never respond well to typical interventions, so why would we try to use them?

Let me introduce to you a concept that I was quite skeptical about when I first heard of it. In fact, it was so absurd to me that it would work that it took months for me to even try it. Time in. Yes, I know it is cliche but the phrase describes it well. The next time your child starts to act out of control try using time in. Here is how it works. I’ll use a story from our family to illustrate.

Rosie was playing with neighbor kids and her brothers one day and was getting tired and grumpy. One of the other kids started playing with a stick that was laying near her that she perceived was hers. (Yes, I said stick. If you are already a parent you understand how a stick could cause huge problems.) I happened to be close by feeding the animals and saw the whole thing.

Suddenly, there was a ear rending scream. I was un-phased, having been the mother of my daughter for the previous three years, and sauntered over to the little group to see what the ruckus was. “HE TOOK MY STICK!!” Rosie yelled and pointed accusingly at the offending party. Little six year old Dawson looked at me with eyes big as saucers and waited for me to lay into him.

I had seen the whole thing and knew that Dawson had not done anything wrong. Rosie was tired and therefore being unreasonable. At this point I had two goals.

1. Get her inside and away from the other kids

2. Give her some of my attention so she could calm down.

I said, “Rose, why don’t you come inside and tell mommy what happened.” Because she didn’t perceive she was in trouble (which she wasn’t) she followed me (albeit, crying) into the house. When we got inside she poured out her whole sorry stick story with crocodile tears and the waving of hands. I listened and sympathized and then informed her that the stick didn’t belong to her and since it was just lying on the ground, Dawson had done nothing wrong.

At this point she had calmed down enough to take the news that the coveted stick was not hers pretty well. She cried some more but all in all she handled the loss of “her” stick with dignity. I asked her if she wanted me to read her a story and she said she did. We read for about 15 minutes and then she was ready to play again. I let her play for about 20 minutes and then asked the neighbor kids to go home, knowing that Rosie was tired and wanting to prevent further trouble.

I know, I know, some of you are thinking I let Rosie get away with being rude. I should have made her apologize and kept her from playing. I should have done something to let her know she was wrong. If you look closely you’ll see that I had more meaningful interaction with Rose than I ever would have if I had made her more angry by putting her in time out or exacting some other punishment. In addition, because I didn’t talk at her in her moment of frustration, she accepted that she was wrong about the stick.

Reading to her afterwards was not a way to reward bad behavior, but rather a way to be close enough to affect Rosie’s regulatory system in a positive way. By snuggling with her my brain waves literally were able to impact hers and calm her over stimulated brain so she could function with her friends again.


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