Creative Parenting 101: Taking Time Outs To The Next Level

I watch alot of the television show “Supernanny”. Actually, my entire family does. It’s good entertainment for us since:

A. Our boys are waaay beyond the years/age of the children who are featured,
2. We get a perverse sort of pleasure out of seeing how some of the parents on the show just don’t have a clue that they actually created the mess (I wrote *some*. I would even go as far to say *most*.)

Jim and I were never really the “Time Out”/”Naughty Step” kind of parents. In fact, although we put them in “Time Out” on more than a few occasions (especially the younger one), there are only two kinds of Time Outs that I really remember, the first being my own.

When the older boy was a toddler, I vividly remember going into the bathroom by myself (yes, Moms, it can be done!) and–the horror!–closing the door. My purpose? Not to go to the bathroom. Don’t be silly; of course on occasion I did use the bathroom, but what I’m talking about here is different. If the boy was getting on my nerves, making me angry, or we were just having a bad day, I removed myself from the situation* and gave myself a Time Out. Just for a few minutes, to recharge.

Once, he banged on the door and said, “Mom! Whaddaya doin’?”

I replied, “I’m just getting some peace and quiet!”

“Okay,” he said, as he went back to his pile of toys in the next room.

From then on, whenever I went into the bathroom–ahem, for any reason–he announced to anyone who was available that Mom was “Makin’ peace.”

Apparently my own Time Outs made an impression on my kids, especially the younger boy, whose personality is, let’s say, a little on the passionate side. As he grew from toddlerhood to little boy, his “passion” (read: anger at certain situations) grew as well. We nipped it in the bud a bit by telling him to “Go to your room until you settle down, and then come back and we’ll talk about it.”

Over the years he learned, from the combination of his own Time Outs and mine, to remove himself from situations that made him angry. It’s an amazing thing. Even now, at thirteen years old, he can get into a heated argument with his brother or become extremely frustrated with Jim and me, and the next thing you know he has taken himself upstairs to his room (closing the door on the way) to cool off. Minutes later he’s back, ready to approach the argument or conversation with a fresh start, hashing it out logically until it’s taken care of.

I am so thrilled that this young man has learned such a valuable lesson about not acting or reacting out of anger, and instead counting to ten before moving on. What a great skill to have throughout life, don’t you think?

So if you’re ever at our house and you can’t find us, look for one of us in the bedroom and one of us in the bathroom. We’ll be Makin’ Peace.

*DISCLAIMER: Obviously when I went into the bathroom and closed the door he was not in a situation that would be dangerous for him!



  • Mom24

    It’s so important to teach our kids how to handle anger. Somehow, I think a lot of parents miss that. Frustration too. We’re working on that with Jacob right now. He’s just reached an age where certain things–trying to figure out how to juggle homework with the desire to do what he wants to do, leads to breakdowns. We’re definitely teaching him to go to his room and get himself together, take some deep breaths and then he’ll be more in shape to deal with it.

    Great post.

  • Kat

    So you’re a “peacemaker”? We should send you to the middle East etc. LOL

    Seriously though you know what I think about your and Jim’s parenting skills and I love how you have made your boundaries clear but at the same time manage to make your kids feel loved.

    P.S. I get a (guilty) pleasure out of watching Supernanny – the hubby dislikes the show but I just can’t get enough. Most parents ARE the root cause of the problem.

  • Mags

    As I was reading this I was wondering, “How many bathrooms do they have?” and also giggling because I imagined coming over to an “empty” house and wondering where everyone was…only to find out you all were in seperate bathrooms. 🙂

  • Michelle

    Oh I so hope that’s a lesson that Mister Man picks up on. He’s such a perfectionist and SO passionate that he gets so frustrated sometimes (and sometimes lashes out). I have seen him go up to his room to “rest” for a bit sometimes, but we’re definitely still working on how to handle frustration and anger. Kudos to you and to him for figuring this one out!

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I watch Supernanny (usually) because it makes me feel like I’m doing some things right.

    Ha – then you read my post from today, and well…

    We’re trying to do the “time outs for peace” thing with Nick – but at 4 the mere mention of ‘time out’ makes me cry even harder. Oh, the struggles…we’ll get there. I know…

  • Sarah Clapp

    I’m always trying to tell my son that time-out is not a bad thing, just an opportunity to remove ones self from the situation and to calm down. I’m glad to hear that years later it pays off.

  • Melissa

    I learned this one quite some time ago…now if I could just teach it to Hope.

    I truly believe if my mom had taken herself out of the equation when I was young things would have been much different.

    I have learned instead of acting out of anger you just need to take that step back and cool down.

    And amazingly it’s so much easier to deal when you do!!

    Good on the 13 year old…he’s learned a valuable lesson so much earlier than I did.

  • Nicki

    Thats pretty cool that you’ve managed to teach him such a great life skill! We use Time OUts in my house, but our house is so small, that the only Time Out place is the corner… and the person in Time Out often gets heckled by his/her siblings, until pretty soon they’re ALL in TIme Out!!!

  • Weaselmomma

    hehehe, you’re my kind of mom. I used to but them in the crib(so they were safe) and lock myself in the bathroom too. Mommy needed time away to keep them safe.

  • Dea

    My older son prefers to go somewhere quiet too, when upset. He actually used to do it as soon as he could walk. If I frustrated his desires, he’d take off and close his door. It was amazing. He’s actually evolved it into something he can do at school – he has his own special piece of the office at school with paper and crayons and books where he can ask to remove himself to there and chill out when he’s upset or angry or frustrated. I’m AMAZED at the self control a 7 year old has that even *I* don’t have at times.

    YAY on your 13 year old – he’s my hero! 😀