A fan asked a question after the recent post on Sibling Rivalry and using Time-Aways as a tool: What do you suggest when you march a child to their room when they are not clearly upset (ie, name-calling, being overly rude, hurting a sibling for no clear reason other than to be annoying), and they tell you they “won’t do it again” as you put them in their room? How long do they take time-away in a situation such as this, when there is no clear “waiting for the storm to calm”?
Time-aways should be as long as needed. They help lower the negative behaviors you’re trying to change. If a child says “sorry”, over and over, but keeps doing basically same negative behaviors, it means you have to lengthen the time-away. Before letting them out of their room make certain they tell you why they went in and what they will do differently. Some kids need a lengthier time-away (like a mini-grounding that can last a half hour or more). Try that, and keep calm. No lectures. Tell them they’ve made choices that got them in their rooms. Tell them you know they are smart and will figure out a way to hold back those urges. If this doesn’t work, add a consequence too. Perhaps they’ve lost a special treat that night for dessert or can’t join watching a favorite TV show or they have to go to bed 15 minutes earlier that night.