I finished reading Time-In: When Time-Out Doesn’t Work, and I want to share what I found to be the important points for our family.

Here is the premise: “Time-In is a practical process that teaches children how to be competent, to think, and to succeed. It uses four tools, Ask, Act, Attend, and Amend, which fit together like interchangeable puzzle pieces. Time-In addresses discipline and misbehavior while strengthening the connection the child has with the parent or teacher.” The four basic steps are:

  1. Stop the unwanted behavior
  2. Ask yourself, “What does the child need to learn about this?”
  3. Use one or more of the four tools (Ask, Act, Attend, and Amen) to help them learn the appropriate lesson
  4. Notice the tools the child responds most to and continue using them, rather than using the tools you would respond to

The Ask piece was the most interesting to me. It tells us to ask a child about their behavior rather than telling them that what they did was good/bad/rude/whathaveyou. For example, tonight Grace took her dress off in the living room and left it on the floor. Before, I might have said “Grace, don’t leave your dress on the floor” or “Please put your dress in the hamper” and I may or may not have gotten any reaction. (Or if it was a bad day, I might have said “I’m sick of you guys leaving your stuff all over the place.”) Tonight I said, “Grace, what is this?” and pointed to it. She opened her mouth in that light-bulb-goes-on expression and picked it up and put it in the hamper. I took it a step further, saying “Where were you supposed to take it off?” She said “ohhh, riiight, in my room.”

It also says to ask about positive behavior, like “do you know why I like when you eat your vegetables?” and let them think about it and have a discussion about why that is a good thing, rather than just saying “I’m glad you ate all your vegetables.”

The next one was only a small point in the book but it’s something I’ve been conscious of and working on for awhile: Not adding “okay” to the end of statements, thereby asking a child’s permission when giving instructions or responding to requests. For example, say “I’ll get your milk in a minute. Please wait.” instead of “I’ll get your milk in a minute, okay?”

Another language point teaches delayed gratification and avoids negativity: Use words like “if/when/after” instead of “not now” if the child asks for something they can’t have/do until a later time.

Another small point that hit me was an example in which the kids had too many rules and were unable to keep track of them all. So we are going to create a list of maybe five rules to focus on and post them on the wall. Grace and I brainstormed today and she came up with lots of good ones. Too many! Once we narrow it down, I’ll post what we settle on.