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  • BeckyD

This Time-Out is Really About Taking a Break. Read the book, Positive Time-Out, by Jane Nelsen

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Positive Time-Out - is there really such a thing? Yes, there is, and Jane Nelsen explains in her book by the same name, Positive Time-Out, what makes it positive and how important it is for both children and adults, to understand and use this tool when the need arises. Teachers are struggling with students who are less able to regulate their emotions than students even a decade ago. This book will help both teachers and parents, help children (and themselves, too), regulate their emotions better.


Many of us grew up with the concept of time-out being negative. The words, "Go to your room and think about what you did!" still rings in some people's ears from childhood. This form of time-out, punitive, is really not helpful to anyone. This book focuses on the concept of a positive time-out, one that helps everyone involved, for example, the child who was having a melt-down and the exasperated parent trying to keep herself from saying or doing something she might regret.

Jane Nelsen points out that a friendly, respectful tone of voice is imperative when using this tool and encouraging the child to take a time-out (cool-down period, chill-out time, trip to "Hawaii", as examples of time-out spot names that I've heard children choose for their time-out spots). The main idea is during a no-problem time, a parent discusses with their child (who is old enough to understand the concept of positive time-outs) what it's for (a place to cool down when angry, sad, upset, needing to regroup) and then to be able to reconnect with others again (do recovery after making a mistake - perhaps, apologize and/or other forms of making amends). Also, the child and parent discuss where the time-out spot could be and what could be in it (no electronics, as a general rule).

The chapter called "Action Tools for Avoiding Power Struggles While Empowering Children" contained 40 additional tools, besides positive time-out. This served as a great reminder that there are many other effective parenting tools available, besides positive time-out. The tool to use typically depends upon the situation, child's development (age included), and child's temperament. 

This book is an easy read and is a great reference-type book when needing a quick refresher on positive time-out or one of the other action tools mentioned. I suggest you take a positive time-out for yourself and read this book. You'll be more prepared to face those parenting and teaching challenges from the children afterwards.

I invite you to comment on Positive Time-Out.

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