When you are creating your ultimate sanction, think about ease of use when out, or at friends.
Close-time can be hard work, it is not always possible to stop what you are doing to hold them, but when they get used to it as a sanction, you can get them to stand near you. When we used to go shopping, we would give them trolley time, if they were misbehaving, this meant that they could not escape, and we could keep on shopping.
Sending them to their room is impossible when you are out and about, getting them to sit on the naughty step is hard when you live in a bungalow, and carrying a mat about could be a problem. A friend of mine used the idea of a naughty corner; she liked the fact that she could usually find a corner when out. If she could not find one she could always make one by standing next to a wall (a bit like close time).
What is Close-time?
Close time involves bringing your child to sit or stand next to you, for one minute, per year of age. There may be a need to hold onto them, if they are not willing to do their time quietly. If there is too much twisting and turning going on, then you can get your child to sit in front of you, and hold them in more of a bear hug. If things get too physical, then time-out may be the better option (see later in this article).
It is useful to remember that young children have no concept of time, therefore if they are really struggling, but showing their willingness to apologise, then you can cut the session short by saying, “that’s it, times done.” They are not let off if they apologise straight away, if they were given time to say sorry before, then the sanction, in part at least, should be imposed.
When the time is up, it works best to remind them why you gave them close time. Then provide them with the opportunity to rectify the situation, by picking up the item and giving you and/or the injured party an apology and a hug. If they still refuse, then they may need more close-time. Do not give up, change to time-out if required, but do not give up until they are ready to apologise.
My youngest once required close-time three times in a row, before she would say sorry to her sister. It was a miniature battle of wills, which I won, but not by being harsher, just persistent. If a sanction does not have the effect you want the first time, keep enforcing it. I believe that if you prove that you are going to stick to your guns, and cannot be wound up (visually anyway,) then your child will eventually respond more positively.
What I liked about close-time as a technique, was the fact that you could show your child that it was the behaviour you did not like, not them. As your child has to sit next to you, they should not feel pushed away and unloved, unlike some of the naughty area, or time-out methods. You may query how this is an effective sanction, when your child usually wants to sit next to you.
We tried time-out with my eldest when she was around four, but it did not work, she always wanted to do what she wanted, and would move to different spots, because she could. Most of the battle was about getting her to sit in a certain spot, it could take 10 min plus. In the end we went back to close-time, but had to move from the sit next-to, to the sit in-front. This meant that she was sitting with her back to me, allowing me to hold her wrists between thumb and middle finger, like a loose set of handcuffs, instead of trying to keep her on my lap by using a bear hug. She used to struggle and get frustrated, and shout out “let me go, let me go, let me go,” possibly to try and embarrass us into letting her off the punishment. It could be a challenge to keep hold of her, but she would usually calm down enough to apologize after the four minutes. By holding her wrists between my finger and thumb, I knew I was not putting any pressure on her. My thumb and finger usually ached afterwards due to the force I was using to keep the circle closed, but least I knew I was not using this on her. I think if I was hugging her, or gripping her wrists directly, then I would have found myself using more force that I wanted; with this method I only had contact when she struggled.
Moving to Time-out
If your child is a little wriggler, or you feel that you are holding on too tight for comfort, then you may be better off using time-out. Time-out can be harder to use, as your child can move freely, and you will find that to start with, this is exactly what they will do.
You can use Time out, in the sense of time apart, at any age. As an adult, you may choose to put yourself in time-out, rather than your child. Shortly after my eldest turned three, she started to moan, and groan, a lot. This was not bad behaviour as such, but noisy and very annoying. This is when I found taking time out very useful. Either I would leave the room to get away from the noise, or if we were all eating dinner, or playing, then we would ask her to step outside for a while, until she had calmed down.
As Sophie got older and stronger the close time battles became ridiculous, we had to try time-out again before anyone got hurt. By the time she was six, time-out was all that we used, and lots of it. We ended up having to use it the most when she was tired, needed calming down or distracting. We followed the same warning pattern as we used with close-time, and any other sanction.
Unwanted behaviour or action identified
Behaviour required stated and sanction for non-compliance named
Count of three provided
Sanction carried out
Time-out was always the ultimate sanction, we used the count to three, and threat of lost pocket money first, and this was usually sufficient to help both girls regain self-control.
When we did have to resort to using time-out, we found ourselves drawn into the movement game, my eldest would yell out “I don’t have to,” and move away from where she had been put. This made us angry, and caused rising frustration, as every time we put her in the area, she moved instantly. The problem was that we ended up getting too physical. After one particular evening where we had found ourselves throwing her across the room, causing her to land heavily in the time-out spot, we realised that we needed to do something to keep ourselves calm, before we did her, or ourselves, an injury.
We came up with the 30 second adult time-out time. If she moved instantly then we did not respond until 30 seconds later. We would then go and find her, not engage with her in any way other than to let her know that time was starting again. We would put on the kitchen timer allowing everyone to see how much time was left. After three or four re-placements she usually stayed. The 30 seconds was a tactic I wish we had come up with earlier; it was usually long enough for us to calm down between battles, and kept us from reacting too forcefully. We would get our apology and hug, and after implementing the 30 second rule for us, she would settle much more quickly, as we had removed her control of the game, as we came to find her in our time frame, not hers.
For older kids, they will usually respond to the warnings, or you can choose to put in place simple sanctions, like docked pocket money or time off their screen time. If you do this though, remember to do it selfishly, don't make your life harder than it needs to be. There are a number of resources and a video around this very topic on my Facebook group, if you are interested.
Do you have an ultimate sanction?
If you enjoyed this article and got some insight, tools or tactics from it;
a) SHARE it with someone who would also like/benefit from it
b) SHOW us you like it
c) Connect with our community of intentional parents to get more tools and tactics https://bit.ly/Childishadult (Facebook group)
d) Watch the videos
Close time https://youtu.be/LRJGTYIoSkY
Time out https://youtu.be/pTfbhlbTiGQ
Selfish sanctioning https://youtu.be/KGOJ_X7_9sg
All the very best
Ruth Taylor www.ruthtaylor.net