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Dr. Maureen Maiocco, SUNY Canton - Thinking Time


Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Maureen Maiocco of SUNY Canton explains why children often benefit from thinking time, and why using time outs can be counterproductive.

Dr. Maureen Maiocco is director of the Early Childhood AS Degree Program at SUNY Canton. She holds an Ed.D. in Child and Youth Studies from Nova Southeastern University.

About Dr. Maiocco

Dr. Maureen Maiocco - Thinking Time

I never utilized the term "time out" in my teaching practice. I referred to it as "thinking time" and it could be any place in the classroom that would meet the child's need(s) at that given moment. For example, if I had a child that was striking out at others, it would clearly indicate to me that the child was feeling frustrated. So, the child would be redirected to a center in the classroom that could calm and soothe. It could involve exploring in water play, sand, shaving cream or play dough, where it is perfectly fine to pound, pinch, squeeze and hit the dough. Tactile experiences can work magic to a child that is feeling out of sorts. You can even make homemade stress balls for children using deflated balloons and sand.

I had the following rules in my classroom: respect yourself, others, and the classroom. If these rules were not being followed, it was my job to help identify the source of the reaction. Closely observing what happened before during and after altercations, and then removing and providing for the child an acceptable alternative.

Young children do not have the self-regulation or often the words to acknowledge and diffuse situations independently. It is the teacher's responsibility to provide to children what they need, no matter how difficult. I made a point to speak to children at their level, then remove them from the situation, gave all of my attention to the victim (if another child was involved), and then addressed the issue with the child who was causing the problem.

Time out in the traditional sense is humiliating. Think of being pulled over by a police officer, everyone stops and slows down and looks, that is the feeling a child has when they are sent to "time out." When we are trying to build social skills, it seems contradictory to utilize a method that isolates and blatantly calls out a child. In addition time out gives the child exactly what they want, attention.

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