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Discipline Differences: Effective Time Outs

When it comes to discipline, treating each child the same simply isn’t fair! Think for example about the difference in how time outs affect children who are more extraverted (are energized by interacting and engaging in activities) and more introverted (are energized by solitude and reflection). Send an Introvert to his or her room and the silent reaction might be Yes! I get to avoid everyone and all that noise! In contrast, ten minutes alone for an Extravert can seem torturous!

Yet time outs are a sound disciplinary strategy if done correctly. Here are a few things to think about as you consider how you might use them with your own children.

  • Use a boring location. “Go to your room” means books and toys even for Extraverts. We used the bottom of our stairway to the second floor, where nothing is happening.
  • Might you leave timing in the hands of your child? We asked our children to take themselves to the stairs until they were ready to tell us how they would change their behavior. This gave them time to stop simmering if they were angry but also required them to come up with a plan for “reentry.” It was very effective with both of our (very different) children.
  • Use writing as a form of time out. On a few occasions, we decided that our children owed apology notes to other adults. Whether they wrote at the kitchen table or in their rooms, this activity requires a “time out” for thinking and forces them to reflect on what they did. One of our children looked up from a half-written note and said, “Do you think my teacher will ever forgive me?” It’s a powerful strategy.
  • Would time out from a possession work? While Extraverts usually have tons of interests, Introverts may focus on one or two toys or other possessions at a time. Removing that object for a few hours may be far more effective with Introverts than any regular time out. After all, their inner world is pretty interesting no matter where you have them sit!

These little strategies often kept us from battling over discipline during discipline!

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is http://www.edcoaching.com/