Making use of time-in, rather than time -out, is a useful part of a relational approach to parenting for all children, but especially those with relational trauma.
These children find it very hard to manage their emotions; understand cause & effect, or to take responsibility for their actions. They very easily go to a place of shame. They can’t be expected to make use of time-out in a constructive way – they haven’t got the internal resources to do so.
Time-in is used to help a child feel connected with us.This in turn builds trust & security. When we connect before we correct, & co-regulate our child, we’re thinking about what is going on inside that led to the behaviour. Unless they’re supported to understand the reason for the behaviour, they’re going to do the same thing again & consequences won’t work.
Time-in is not a strategy that is permissive of bad behaviour, rather it is one that aims to help our child feel safer, regulate their arousal level better & think more clearly. Only then can they effectively learn from mistakes & feel motivated to make amends. The unhelpful behaviour needs a response, otherwise we’re agreeing its ok to behave this way. But if we only respond to behaviour then we’ll be putting out fires forever.
When we offer empathy & acceptance for thoughts & feelings, our child feels understood & is more likely to become receptive to thinking about what they could do differently next time. When we are in attuned relationships, our child is more likely to want to be like us & more motivated to make amends.