Sometimes, parents a need time-out too.
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t—and even brag about their foolishness. Proverbs 13:16
How many times have you regretted saying something to your child? I certainly can’t count the words I wish I could rewind or the things I wish I could re-do.
That’s why it’s often a good idea for parents to give themselves a time-out. I know it’s not always feasible to do this, but when you can, when you find yourself starting to boil inside at something your child has done, give yourself a time-out.
My dad used to do this. I remember one particular occasion in 8th grade when he caught me in a lie and told me to come see him in 30 minutes. I hated that wait and dreaded what he would say. But he was calm and firm, and later I learned that he used to delay his responses to our actions to give himself a chance to calm down.
Giving yourself time to calm down keeps you from saying or doing something you will regret. It allows you to think through the situation and come up with the best way to handle it. It gives you a little space and perspective. It helps you learn to figure out what the real problem is, not react to the symptoms.
When my youngest was in high school, she got caught sneaking out at a friend’s and we found out about it first thing in the morning as we were headed out the door to a volleyball tournament. Even though I was boiling, we really couldn’t get into a discussion about it and our confrontation was delayed until later that day when we got home.
That was actually a good thing, I realized later in the day. It gave us plenty of space to think about how we wanted to deal with it, instead of blowing up and saying the first thing that came to our minds.
Oh, she still got grounded, but we did it with intention and calmness, not rage.
While you are in that parental time-out, give your child one at the same time; send him to his room, make her sit on the couch. Don’t let your child go merrily on his way while you sort through your thoughts. That calming-down time is a good thing for the both of you.
When you feel yourself starting to heat up emotionally over something your child has done, make the difficult step to give yourself a time-out–10 or 15 minutes of walking away, being by yourself, taking a walk–and do whatever it takes to respond to your child’s actions in a way which will help him or her learn from the situation, not cower from your anger.