Chapter 15: Learn Patience
Workbook Chapter Fifteen
Time-In Techniques That Work
Barry K. Weinhold, PhD
No Time-Limit Time-In Ages 2-4
Works best for:
Children who demonstrate some degree of self-discipline and emotional self-regulation. This teaches children self-control rather than needing adults to serve as “policemen.”
Adapted from: Charlotte Petersen, child psychologist in Eugene, Oregon
How to do it:
1. Create a place where children can sit in a neutral
environment that is either on or by you. There should
be no toys or other things to play with.
2. When a child behaves in an unacceptable way
(throwing toys around in anger), clearly state what you
want him to do. (“I want you to pick up all these toys
now.”) and give one warning: (“If you choose not to pick
them up, it will tell me that you need to sit by me in the
3. Once the child is seated in the time-in seat, say “You
need to sit here by me until you are quiet and ready to...”
4. Surround the child with “quiet energy” and attune
with their energy.
5. Allow the child to know when they are ready to get
up. Observe their behavior after this to make sure that
they are re-regulated. If not, kindly repeat this process
until they are ready.
Dos and Do Not’s:
1. With this form of time-in, never say to the child,
“Okay, you can get up now.”
2. Allow the child a period of time to sit quietly.
3. If the child leaves the seat, simply ask “Are you quiet
and ready to...?”
4. If the child says “no,” then say, “Oops. You aren’t allowed
to get up until you are quiet and ready to...You
can get up whenever you are ready to.”
Creative Play Cooling Off Time-in 3-6-year olds.
Works best for: For children and adult caregivers who need time to cool
off following rowdy, disruptive behavior.
Adapted from: Evonne Weinhaus, family counselor in St. Louis and
mother of three.
How to do it:
1. When a child misbehaves, say, “I can see that you are
out of control. Please come and sit by me so that I can
help you can get quiet.”
2. Let her decide how long she needs to become quiet or
How to do it: (cont.)
3. If the adult is the one who is out of control, say “I am
getting out of control and I need a time-in. I am going
to sit quietly with myself until I can get quiet. I don’t
want to say something that I don’t mean and hurt someone.
I will talk to you again after I get myself quiet.” This
kind of modeling is perhaps the most important tool for
teaching emotional self-regulation.
Dos and Do Nots:
1. When the time-in is over, avoid a big dramatic
scene involving joyful embraces and hugs. This can be
perceived as a “payoff,” or reward for misbehaving and
2. This normalizes the process of emotional self-regulation.
Bob’s mother had postpartum depression just after his birth. His older siblings and the mother’s sisters helped care for him during her convalescence. Bob’s mother was never able to meet many of his emotional needs, and he described his most common feeling as feeling “lost.” He developed anxious behaviors when his older siblings began to leave home to attend college, and he suffered a major episode of post-traumatic stress at the age of 12 when his dog died.
At some point, Bob decided that his birth trauma was the cause of his mother’s inability to connect with him and began to expect to be abandoned by someone close to him. He developed a strong sense of self-blaming related to his abandonment experiences that left him with lowered self-esteem. As an adult, Bob found himself drawn to women who symbolically represented mother figures and who suddenly left him.
When his wife decided to enroll in graduate school, it created an intense conflict inside Bob and he fell into a depression that he could not shake. It created a serious conflict that threatened to end the relationship. He finally sought therapy with the hope of getting support to convince his wife to reverse her decision about beginning graduate school. Through his therapy, Bob came to see that his over-reaction to his wife’s decision to go to graduate school was connected to an early abandonment he experienced with his mother in the first year of his life (you are never upset for the reason you think you are). Bob was finally able resolve his conflict, and was able to accept his wife’s decision and to support her emotionally and financially in this decision.