Until this completely unexpected pregnancy, I was going to be the mom contentedly raising kids all perfectly 5 years apart. Meaning I for another 5 months have just three littles: a 1 year old, 6 year old, and 11 year old. The beauty of this is that two out of three kiddos are pretty self-sufficient. They listen fairly well and even pitch in when I need help. The downside is that I juggle three different discipline techniques at any given time. Did I mention I also don’t believe in spanking? So, while time outs are great for the younger kiddos, I’ve had to get creative finding time-out alternatives for tweens like my oldest daughter.
Say Goodbye to Technology
My how tweens love their technology! We’ve made it clear that our oldest won’t be getting a cell phone soon, but she does have a tablet. We also have a gaming system, and the kids can access their shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. We try to keep their screen time down most days while also enjoying things like our Family Movie Night on Fridays.
One of the time out alternatives for tweens that we rely heavily on is taking away that access to technology. While none of our children can ever lose Family Movie Night, they can lose screen time during the day. They can also lose access to playing games on our phones or to their tablets.
We started this primarily for the benefit of our tween as she outgrew time outs. However, we’ve found that our second little also responds well to the “you’re going to lose technology” threat.
Clean It Up
All of my children are expected to clean up their messes. This is designed to discipline them when they’re responsible for the mess. Unfortunately, younger children tend to think it’s just a chance to play with the Swiffer—get a Swiffer Start Kit for $2 off now! However, my oldest totally gets it. She hates having to do any more cleaning that she absolutely has to.
One of mom’s favorite time out alternatives for tweens: clean up your mess!
I have to say it’s mildly satisfying that it’s a mess I don’t have to clean up and she hates it so much. The bonus for me here is that it makes a great tool for disciplining her. If she spills something, sneaks a snack into her bedroom, or draws on the wall (yes, it’s happened) she is responsible for cleaning it up. I’ll generally offer a hand for more onerous tasks—like the time she flushed 5 paper towels down the toilet. I supervise and help with chemicals, as well. But the jist of the manpower is coming from her.
“Go to your room.”
There are times when my tween really does need a time out. In our house, time outs are literally just that. It’s time away from the family or activity where our littles can have the opportunity to calm down but are also deprived of positive or negative attention. It eliminates the power struggle between parent and child.
However, no tween wants to be sent to time out. To them, time outs are for the little ones. So one of our time out alternatives for tweens like our daughter, especially ones who are sensitive to the tone and language used, is to instead say, “Go to your room.”
It may seem like a small change, but it allows her to be punished with dignity. She doesn’t feel shamed or embarrassed in front of her younger siblings, but at the same time she has the same consequence for misbehavior. I am a firm believer in discipline and consequences, but I also know that every consequence comes with an opportunity to teach. By using a different phrase, I’m teaching my daughter that there are consequences for her actions, but that she will always be respected.
Have you tested any of these time out alternatives for tweens?