A Love Letter to the Time-Out Chair

Time-Out ChairDear Time-Out Chair,

There you sit looking lonely and unappreciated in the corner of the dining room, but I want you to know that I love you. Sometimes, you remain unused for an astonishing amount of time only to be quickly pressed into service in a rapid-fire succession of sessions. My dear time-out chair, you are the savior of my sanity. You are truly the only effective method of regulating my toddler’s behavior because you are an oasis of calm in even the greatest of storms.

My dear Time Out Chair, as you well know, recently my little Wolfy began a new game. He likes to try to hit me with toys. Big toys. His favorite weapon right now is his ride-on truck, which he is now strong enough to pick up and spin around and then – Whack! When this happens, you are always there, waiting to catch him and hold onto him for a few minutes. Every time. And he is also learning that you are going to consistently catch him after this behavior and so this game of his is becoming less frequent. I knew you would come through for me!

You are always a great friend, just like you came through for me when Wolfy had that weird biting phase not too long ago. He would walk up to me and just bite me. He didn’t bite hard, but sometimes he would look up at me and see if he was getting a reaction and if he didn’t get one, he would sink his teeth in a little deeper. Of course you and I both know that Wolfy (in spite of his name) is not a vicious child; he was just trying to get attention. Thanks to our joint efforts he is learning that a kiss gets positive attention while a bite warrants an immediate visit with you. These are valuable lessons.

Did you know, that some people do not like using time-out chairs such as yourself?

I’ve even read treatises that go so far to say that forcing Wolfy to sit alone for a few minutes is damaging his mind. That it’s abuse. These people suggest that instead of a time-out, I should give Wolfy a time-in. But wouldn’t that just teach him that biting me was the key to getting immediate and positive attention? And at the moment when I have just been bitten, whacked, ignored, etc, I am not my best self. I am not going to be an awesome patient mother anymore than I would grow wings like a fairy and wave my magic wand in order to clean my house. No, at those moments, I don’t want a time-in. And honestly, I think having a time-in with a frustrated, abused mother is a lot worse than sitting by yourself in the corner for a few minutes. My dearest Time-Out Chair, I think you will agree.

Thank you Time-Out Chair for those few precious minutes of peace. The calm after the storm.

When the timer goes off on the stove and Wolfy and my own racing hearts are back to their usual gentle paces, I go to him. We are both our best selves again. And we have the time-in that is getting so much positive press these days. We process what happened and we talk about how we can be better. Time-Out Chair, I love you and I will never give up on the magic that you hold.

Love your faithful admirer,


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