A Time-Out Trick

A couple months ago time-outs became tough. Our rule used to be you had to sit in the time-out corner in the dining room for the number of minutes equivalent to your age—and if you kicked, screamed, or otherwise created drama, time-out started over.

There was kicking, screaming and drama. Always. It was miserable, for everyone.

Enter the hourglass sand timer, which I keep tucked away in our secretary.

I purposefully chose glass.

Now the kids have to sit in time-out and gently hold the timer. I explained that it’s glass and holding it is like holding a bird’s egg—if it’s dropped or thrown, it breaks. The gentle handling requires almost immediate calmness.

It’s also a five-minute timer. At first I worried this would be too long, but they spend the entire time watching the sand fall, and they calm, calm, calm.

Once the sand runs out we spend time talking about why the time-out had to happen, and follow-up with the usual apologies to those needing them, hugs and “I love you” from me.

It’s not foolproof. But for the most part it has greatly improved what had become a nonworking discipline technique.

Rarely do I have success with these sort of things, so when I do, I feel the need to pass these tricks along.

“While you’ll feel compelled to charge forward it’s often a gentle step back that will reveal to you where you and what you truly seek.” —Rasheed Ogunlaru