Have you ever put your child in time out, because of their bad behavior? Ever thought about going for the “time out for a time in” route?
The idea of a “time out” period for a child is actually a great idea and can be a very healthy and rewarding practice, but it must be used in an encouraging, non-punishing way. Perhaps we could change the idea of a “time out” to a “time out for a time in”, a necessary time to reflect on what feelings and emotions are moving through one inwardly.
Many parents typically issue a “time out” as a sort of punishment for what they believe is a wrong-doing or ill-behavior of a child. What is it in us that judges a child’s behavior as “wrong”? Perhaps that is a vital question that we need to ask ourselves.
Where did we learn that it’s wrong for a child to mouth off, to act out his or her emotion in public places, or to throw a major temper tantrum when simply asked to do something? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer would be “We learned the art of judgment from our parents, from society and others around us.” Judging others is a “hand-me-down” way of life.
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If you are willing to see it, how can it be wrong when a child is simply “acting out” a “learned” behavior that they didn’t give themselves?? That seems like a simple enough question, right? How can it be wrong when, most of the time, a child is simply acting out a pattern that was previously enabled by the parent or learned from others?
In one respect, you could actually say that the acting out of that behavior is “right”. Not right in the sense of being a proper and centered response, but right in the sense that they learned perfectly how to mimic and act out what they did, and when their behavior is displayed in front of our eyes, we are able to see where it is that we have missed the mark with them.
That’s perfection. Life’s perfection. How else would we be able to see what was created through our inattention?
That is not to say that there aren’t certain behaviors that are truly destructive and need addressing, so I’m certainly not discounting that.
Who doesn’t need a “time in” when a part of ourselves is all caught up in an emotional negative state? When something in me has “latched” onto anger, resentment or sadness, I have truly benefited by sitting quietly and taking time away from what I am doing at that moment in order to just to be with that negative state.
No “wanting it to go away”, “no pushing it away”, just allowing it to be there and pass through me as it will. Taking a time in such as that will change the past patterns of those states. The more we work with them in that regard, the less grip those states will have on us every time they come around.
Communication with a child is everything. Speaking to a child about emotional negative states that move through all of us is very essential in their development. What if we were to share with a child that these states come and go all the time, and that we don’t need to latch onto them as they are moving through us or take action based on what they want us to do. It is important that children understand that negative states are nothing to be afraid of and can be worked with, in a right and proper way.
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Perhaps amidst one of these negative states, we could ask the child to sit, close their eyes, and see if they are able to inwardly “see” and “feel” the anger or sadness to the best of their ability to do so (with deep breaths). We might share with them that these states are like clouds in the sky that are just meant to pass through, but if we hold onto them, they stick around. Learning to work with negative states in this way can help a young child in their forthcoming life, to strengthen their willingness to go beyond parts of themselves that only want to keep them captive in negativity.