Saturday, November 17, 2007

tornado time outs

OK. I'll catch heck for this idea, but what's a blog for?
You know those "safe rooms" everybody seems to be putting in their houses? I'm really talking more about the concrete rooms above ground in the house than the "fraidy hole" basement rooms, but they could work, too.
How about making those rooms work for you year round and year in and year out instead of just when the weatherman says to "take cover".
When designing the room, put a drain in the center of the floor and slant the floor toward it for drainage. Pad the walls like in gym at school with something like wrestling mats. Splurge on a video monitoring system for the room if you like. A metal door with a small slot in it is a necessity, too.
So, in infancy, at the fussiest time of the evening and he won't quit crying and you've tried everything and you're beginning to understand how people could shake their babies, put the baby in that room in a nice crib or pack and play, shut the door, and go take a shower or weed the garden or listen to some music. Not neglect or punishment, just a little separation for sanity's sake.
Toddlers will do well in time out in such a room, with the drain and the padded walls and video surveillance, and making a child's room safe for time out is pretty hard and moms often wonder if they will associate their room with punishment, so this is the ticket. This technique will work through early childhood.
In the grade school years, maybe something could be put in there for a good study place. The distractions could be kept to a minimum and homework might be easier and more separate from the rest of the house. Staying on task would be easier away from the TV and the bustle of the home, and perhaps the child would be more likely to want to finish quicker to be able to join the family activities - not that homework is punishment, but that it needs to be done and done in a timely fashion, and distractibility is on the rise! I'll write my opinions on how much homework kids are asked to do in a later blog.
Now for the teenager: either a cool place to get away, listen to music and not bother the family, or a good place to do a more serious "time out" if needed. I've got friends and patients dealing with kids who are not bad enough or old enough to go to jail but are continually getting in trouble and causing the family anguish and endangering themselves. In these cases, the metal door and padded walls and the slot in the door would come in handy. This is probably illegal, and I'm sure many child psych folks could shoot holes in this idea for this age group, but it sounds good! Put him or her in there when they won't stay home or when they are threatening suicide, lovingly tell them it's for their own good, then shut the door and let them out to use the bathroom and you can put food through the door slot. Well, it sounded good.
Maybe it's a little much for the teenage "prison" but the quiet room and the time out room and the study room and the crash room are certainly things that aren't impossible to do. Give it a thought.

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