Friday, November 17, 2017

Time Out in a Dark Room

My daughter takes time-outs in a dark room.  

With me.


Did you think I was a horrible father?

So, let me take you though this whole thing and see how you feel about it afterwards.  

To be honest, I am not a huge time-out fan.  Time-outs promote isolation instead of connection, and spanking promotes physical pain, but what else in the world is there?  Well, one day, for some reason, when my two-and-a-half-year old daughter was being obstinate, I took her into her bedroom, and I stayed with her.  We sat on a small couch, and I said, "I brought you in here because we are picking up toys right now, but you are not helping." The light was on, and she was looking around, so I could tell she was avoiding me and not connecting with me.  For some reason, I decided to turn the light off.  We sat back on the couch, and I held her close.  "I brought you in here because we are picking up toys right now, but you are not helping."

"I'm ready, Daddy," she said.

After about thirty seconds of this dark room experience, we went back out into the living room, and of course, she did not help pick up the toys, meandering around, doing everything but picking up the toys.  So, I decided to bring her back into the "dark room" as we now call it.  We went through this process at least four or five times until she finally decided to help pick up her toys and finished in about three minutes.

A reminder is that I hold her close when we get in the dark room.  The idea is to connect with her, remove her from the situation, and then the dark room part of it is to deprive her senses of everything except for me, her, and our words.  Thus, we are connecting emotionally and disciplining all at the same time.  It should also be noted that now I talk about going to the "dark room" ahead of time.  Of course, she does not like to go in the "dark room", but it is not the worst thing in the world either.  In fact, we are connecting instead of her being put into isolation, so there is a part of it that is desirable.  Our kids need our discipline and containment, but they also need our connection as well.  Over time, this process has become very short, usually about a couple of minutes at most.

Taking a time out in a "dark room" is the way in which I do time out with my daughter instead of sending her away from me.  She loses some freedom in the moment, but she does not lose connection.  In fact, she gains even more connection.

(Photo taken with permission from Matthew Wilkens at