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“How do I build my child’s self-control through Time-Out?”

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“Time-Out” is clearly a technique of “Punishment,” as it is intended to decrease negative behavior.  However, “Time-Out” can (and should) become a technique of “Teaching” as your child gets older and as your use of the technique becomes more nuanced.  Instead of simply decreasing the negative behavior, you can work on increasing self-control with different levels of confinement in “Time-Out.”  For example, let’s say that when you began to implement “Time-Out” your child was physically resistant and even self-injurious (e.g., by banging his head) and you needed to use a version of “Time-Out” that involved placing him in a play pen (with a soft floor, mesh sides, and a padded top rail).  After a month or two, your child seems to be improving.  So now you may move on to try a series of “less restrictive” versions of “Time-Out,” such as “Time-Out” in an unpadded gated area and then “Time-Out” in a chair.  When in the unpadded, gated area your child can choose between NOT banging his head (which is a great step forward) or banging his head (in which case you can go back to the safer play-pen version of “Time-Out”).  If your child does well with the unpadded, gated area for “Time-Out,” you can then move on to use of “Time-Out” in a chair.  Here is the ultimate opportunity for “self-control,” as your child is able to get up and resist, but will (hopefully) eventually choose to comply with “Time-Out” in the chair, and, thus, demonstrate self-control. 

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