In Reddit user Savorthemoon’s family, “everyone is eligible for timeout (parents, baby, toddler).” So when her husband wasn’t using his “listening ears,” her 3-year-old son was overjoyed to send him into timeout.
“He was so proud to be in control of the timer and gave husband the biggest hug when his time was up,” Savorthemoon said of her son. Giving her son a say in who else in the family gets a timeout makes him handle his own punishments “much better.”
“Adult” timeout has a hidden bonus. Savorthemoon says she uses her punishment to get a full five minutes of alone time, which is sacred and unheard of when raising a baby and a toddler.
Reddit users were quick to congratulate the mom on her fair discipline strategy. “You are teaching your child that adults make mistakes and own up for their mistakes too,” Opendoorshutdoor said.
HappyGiraffe noted that when timeouts become a team effort, they might feel more like healthy reflection time, rather than a punishment. Plus, many grown-ups already have put this into practice—whether they realize it or not. “Adults take ‘time outs’ ALL the time. We call them ‘I need a minute’ or ‘I have to chill out.’ Our hope is that we know when to give them to ourselves, but certainly we would benefit from feedback from another person that signals us that we might benefit from a minute of pulling our shit together. Letting everyone in the household participate in these reduces the feeling of timeouts are punishments for behavior; in fact, they are the exact opposite. A punishment increases exposure to an undesirable situation or outcome; timeouts are exit passes from an undesirable event.”
Equal opportunity timeouts also show children that nobody is exempt from the rules, as it’s hard to figure out how to grant a child enough autonomy to feel good and independent in an age-appropriate way. Pus, they teach children time management, as they’re in charge of the timer, and the maturity to accept the consequences of their mistakes, as user groovypencils pointed out.
Savorthemoon’s strategy sounds like an effective way to empower a child, and give parents a much-needed (and often hard to come by) break.