Time out has been the discipline of choice for the past few decades, in both homes, daycares and preschools. Without a doubt, time outs are better than spankings. No pain is inflicted and there is no risk of physical abuse. Still, time out is not a positive thing. Instead, by using a time out you are focusing on your preschooler’s bad behavior rather than encouraging his good behavior. Are there any alternatives to time outs when disciplining preschoolers? There certainly are and I have listed three options here.
Redirection is a technique I learned when working with autistic preschoolers. In turn, I tried it out on my own children and found it to work just as well with them.
The concept of redirection is quite simple. When a preschooler is having a fit, not sharing or displaying any other inappropriate behavior, direct his attention to another activity, game or toy. Do this as needed until he has forgotten about the previous bad behavior he was engaging in. Give your preschooler plenty of praise for making a good choice and behaving properly.
Rather than sending your preschooler to time out, offer him the choice of time in. It is not even a forced option. If you already tried redirection with no success, ask the preschooler if he would like to take a few moments in a quiet area to calm himself. There should be some quiet activities available to the preschooler in the time in area. Such activities might include picture books, stuffed animals and puzzles. In this time in area, a child is provided the opportunity to regroup with no damage done to his self-esteem.
Reward charts are not only for potty training. They are a positive alternative to time outs. By using reward charts with your preschooler, you are encouraging positive behavior. The focus is on what he is doing right, not wrong. Ideally, always try to catch your preschool as he engages in appropriate behavior. Reward him on the reward chard with stickers for kindness, patience and tidiness.
Preschoolers, like people of all ages, will sometimes do whatever it takes to get attention. By regularly using these alternatives to time out, you are teaching your preschooler that he will receive plenty of attention for good behavior, thus reducing the need for him to engage in inappropriate behavior.
Positive Discipline Resource Center