Why Time-Out Is A Good Idea

"Mom! Stop, listen!"

"I am listening."

"You don't even know what I'm talking about. You're so annoying!"

Suddenly, the wind had changed, warning sirens were ringing through the air, and an unpredictable twister was headed straight in our direction, determined to steal our sunny morning.

Sometimes, my daughter's nine-and-a-half-year-old self reminds me of her behavior as a toddler. There wasn't much warning when the storms were coming then either. No crinkled forehead was suggesting displeasure. No whiny sniffles or grumpy protests. 

There were two very clear states - sublime joy and contentment or ear-piercing shrieks of discomfort and frustration.

She was an intensely emotional child, and I learned early on that taking a time-out was a good idea. My ability to stop, walk away and reflect on my emotions to restore my inner peace was as essential to my growth as it was to hers.

Now, I am more skilled at being able to recognize the subtle signs of stress, and she's much better at responding to my offers of assistance.

My job has not been to judge her actions or insist that she change according to my timeline, but to tread gently (though not in fear) as I help her recover from the emotions and stress that incapacitate her "thinking brain" and hijack her compassion.

When we feel supported, normal stress helps us develop into resilient and emotionally flexible adults. 

But, when we mistake a stress reaction for willful disobedience or disrespect, we miss the opportunity to help our children grow from their mistakes.

Children are not always in control of their behavior. The systems that regulate their emotions and restrain their impulses are sluggish and underdeveloped. 

They may snarl and vent, yelling things they don't mean because those actions satisfy the need to release the tension they are holding. 

Our response determines our influence on their behavior. A slight shift in your communication from defensive to proactive can make all the difference in shaping their response to stress.

Model respect by being reflective, curious, and responsible for your emotions. Take time-out to regulate yourself, and your children will learn to respect others in the same way. 

What do you think? 

Are you in a cycle of negativity or constant conflict with your children? 

Can you reframe your language to be more open and considerate of your child's developmental capacity? 

What would that sound like?  

Share your thoughts in the comments. Your suggestions might just help another parent in need of ideas.

Thank you so much for reading and remember - it's about being conscious - not perfect!

Talk soon,

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