I recently attended a continuing medical conference with hundreds of other pediatricians. At the conference, a behavioral psychologist presented a new twist on an old topic that I thought was worth sharing. I’ve always been taught (and taught parents) the rule of “one minute per year” for timeout, e.g., if a child is 2 years-old, then they stay in time out for 2 minutes. Now I’ve always used the minutes of time as a general guideline and told parents to go in and retrieve the misbehaving child as soon as the child was in control of themselves. The new approach throws minutes in time out completely out the window altogether.
Instead of time out for so many minutes, you train to these three ideas:
- Quiet Mouth
- Quiet Hands
- Quiet Feet
In teaching the concept, you would repeat the three steps to the child, “Quiet mouth, quiet hands, quiet feet.” As soon as the child has those three things under control, the child gets to come out of time out. The idea is that it teaches the child more to the desired behavior and less to the minutes of time.
I’ve decided to try it out on my youngest (20 months). Unfortunately, it’s only been a couple of days, so I can’t report a raging success just yet (she’s still at the stage of throwing her body back on the ground stiff as a board and screaming at the top of her lungs anytime I try and correct her). Fear not, I’m more stubborn than she is and determined to teach her. Wish me luck! May you have quicker success than me.