Many parents use the withdrawal method when their child is not behaving well. This technique involves putting the child away for a while so that he/she calms down and thinks about his / her behavior. Also referred to as a reflection period or downtime, the withdrawal should not be used until 2 years later.
This method of discipline is a considerable advance on corporal punishment. However, today, experts realize that we can really use it wrongly, especially if we do it almost systematically, in all situations requiring discipline.
In addition, a study of children aged 2 to 4 years showed that only half of them could say why they were behind. For them, it was a punishment and they thought first of way out of this isolation apologizing, without really understanding.
Understand your child’s needs
From 1 year to 3 years
Your child needs you to stop certain behaviors because he has trouble controlling his urges. So, if your toddler makes a forbidden gesture, hold him in your arms to stop his gesture and redirect him. For example, have him throw paper balls instead of blocks.
If he refuses and gets angry, try to calm him down and explain to him in simple words why you do not accept his behavior. If he does not listen to you because he is too upset, take him to a safe and quiet place. If he does not control himself, he probably needs help to find his calm.
He needs to feel your calm and reassuring presence and know that you recognize his anger, but without accepting his behavior. Reassure him by talking to him gently or simply by staying close to him. To leave him alone when he is in crisis will not help him to recover and understand what has happened. He will feel a sense of abandonment instead.
When he is in agreement, hold him tenderly against you and reassure him. To help him put words on his emotions, explain to him what happened, what he may have felt and the probable cause of his anger. For example, say “You were angry because I did not want you to throw your blocks. ”
From 3 years
The child can now express his anger and desires with words. The “Stop, I stop and I calm down and I think” becomes possible for him. At this age, he begins to control himself better and is able to stop to discuss a solution.
Your child needs you to help him think about his actions and words, and their consequences. It is useless to set it aside for a gesture whose scope it does not understand. Ask him questions or explain the situation: “How could you …? What will happen if …? Or, after 2 warnings, “You throw blocks. I can not let you do it, you risk hurting your brother. Play something else or go play further. You help your child express himself and understand the consequences of his actions. At the same time, you strengthen your bonds.
To avoid using withdrawal, direct your child to a calmer activity when he/she starts to become agitated and aggressive.
How to use the withdrawal correctly
In certain circumstances, withdrawal may be an effective means of intervention. Withdrawal should be considered as a means to calm oneself, not as a punishment. Here’s how.
Determine where your child should be quiet for a period of time (eg, sitting in a chair or on the first step of the stairs). If your child is over 3 years old, you can isolate him in a room, such as his room, so that he does not have contact with other children or adults. Never lock him in a place that scares him, like a cupboard without light. Isolation should not be applied until the age of 3 years.
The withdrawal should not be too long (1 minute per year of age). Avoid talking to your child or watching them during the withdrawal period. This break allows him to become aware of his level of excitement or anger.
Tell him clearly what you expect from him: “When you have found your little voice, you will have stopped hitting the wall with your feet …”
If your child does not stay in his place, bring him back to the chosen place and start again until he/she respects the planned period of immobility. On the other hand, if your child reacts very badly to this withdrawal (eg he starts throwing the objects around him, claps his head against the walls …), use other strategies such as intentional ignorance, repair of the gesture and, above all, positive attention.
When your child is calm, invite him/her to join you and repeat the instructions calmly to make sure he/she understands it.
Withdrawal is good for parents too
If you do not control yourself, you may also need a “time out” to find yourself alone. Make sure someone cares for your child and give you time to calm down.
Attention to the overuse of the withdrawal
If you realize that you’re putting your child away almost every time he’s bothering you, there’s a problem. Think about all the recent situations where you’ve used this method to calm or reprimand your child. Try to understand why he is not behaving well. Then, try to find an appropriate strategy to stop the unacceptable behavior. Then prepare to apply this strategy the next time your child adopts this behavior.
In addition, you may wonder if you are not too demanding on your child or if some of the things that bother you do not affect your relationship with your child. Also, talk about the situation to other parents or to your child care center. They can help you assess the situation.