Parenting TimeoutParenting is an emotional job. We love our children and want to share only good feelings with them. Sometimes, however, we have to choose to be a parent before being friends with our children. This can mean annoyance, anger, or even resentment.

When parents are confronted with big emotions, taking a parental time-out can restore perspective and create the mental space needed to resolve issues with your child.

What Is a Parental Time-Out?

When our children are unable to control their emotions, we send them to time-out. This short period of seclusion lets them calm down and readjust.

Similarly, a parental time-out lets parents relax and regroup. A little separation from the cause of frustration gives parents a chance to clear their heads so they can respond in a more loving manner. This decreases the chance that interactions with your child will lead to yelling or other angry outbursts.

Like the time-outs we give our children, parental time-outs are emergency interventions. When a parent feels they are losing control or responding in ways that may be detrimental to their child’s growth, a time-out helps them maintain control of their own emotions.

A parental time-out doesn’t have to be extensive. Just a few minutes alone is all it takes. Go somewhere quiet, take a few deep breaths, and focus on relaxing the tension from your body.

Take Care of Yourself

Being a parent is an all-consuming job. It’s easy to forget that we are people with needs too. Use regular self-care techniques to avoid the likelihood of an adult meltdown and the need for time-outs.

  • Identify one non-negotiable need. Maybe you like to take a long shower every morning or watch a certain show in the afternoon. Whatever it is, let the family know that this is your time.
  • Find a friend to talk to when things get tough. Other parents are going through the same things you are. A sympathetic ear will decrease frustrations.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Not catching enough shut-eye actually erodes your brain’s abilities to produce certain neurotransmitters. This can lead to increased irritability and aggravate other mood disorders that make it tough to deal with children.

When Patience Runs Short

Despite your best efforts, there are times when our patience will run short. Instead of yelling, hitting, or using other actions that don’t yield real results, try these strategies instead.

  • Take your time-out.
  • Realize that you are not responsible for fixing all your child’s problems. Let them figure some things out on their own.
  • Call on your team. Other parents, therapists, teachers, and even older siblings can help your child work through their problems when you don’t have the energy.
  • Laugh about it! Humor is one of the best ways to deal with frustrations.

Parental time-outs are a great way to refocus when things get tough. However, a little planning and self-realization will help you avoid the need to use this technique too often.

Anthony Cupo is a trained mindfulness facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.

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