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Behavior: powerful time outs

Date: September 22nd, 2016
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: Timeout is actually something that’s very proactive. One of the things that I see in a lot of classrooms is we use a model where kids have to go and sit in a chair and think about their behavior, which should be something proactive, not reactive.

It should be something that we say, “Hey, why don’t you take a moment. Take a moment in the vacation spot,” or “Take a moment to get yourself back together.”

It’s often, “Go to the chair,” when we should be doing it a lot more proactively. What I’ve seen that’s been very effective, is if you’re using that type of system in your classroom, where you have that take-a-break, or you have that vacation spot, use a system. Use something that’s research based, like a Zones of Regulation, something that’s out there, that really teaches kids.

You can search it on the Internet. Zones of Regulation is just a wonderful tool that we see, that allows kids to sit in a situation like a timeout and be able to regulate themselves to look at, “Am I in the blue zone, am I in the yellow zone, am I in the red zone?”

Of course, we’ve taught this, and we’ve taught it to the kids, but then we use it so the kids know, “What should I do when I go sit?” We all need a timeout once in a while, right? But what do you do when you’re in that timeout? You talk to yourself. You teach yourself how you’re going to get back into wherever it is that you’re having a hard time with.

But kids don’t get that unless they’re taught what to do while they’re sitting there. They have to be taught, “When you’re sitting there, this is what should be going through your mind, so that you know what the expectation is when you return,” not just sit there and do time. Too many of our kids are sitting and doing time.