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September 19, 2012
Teach Children to Take a Break
When you begin to see a bad attitude or hear that manipulative whining voice, have your child take a Break. With young children, as young as two or three years old, have them sit in a particular place, a chair, a carpet square, the hallway, or a bottom step. For older children, you might send them to the parent’s room or to another quiet place.
We believe that the Break is much more helpful than Time Out. The instructions given are simple and clear. “You need to go take a Break. Come back and see me when you’ve calmed down and are ready to talk about this nicely.” Two differences are important. The child knows that the objective in taking a Break is a changed heart and also the child helps determine the length of time spent in the break place, coming back only when ready for a debriefing.
These two differences between Time Out and the Break change the posture of the parent. With Time Out, the parent is the policeman, keeping the child in the chair until the sentence for misbehavior has been served. With the Break, the parent is eagerly waiting for the child to return so that they can debrief and more forward.
The Break helps parents address heart issues with children and can become a primary discipline technique. It actually comes from the Bible in the teaching about discipline in God’s family, the Church (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, and 2 Corinthians 2). The idea is basically this: If you can’t abide by the principles that make this family work, then you can’t enjoy the benefits of family life. The two go hand in hand.
For more information about how to implement the Break in your family, see the chapter about four steps of correction in the book, Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.